Whether you’re researching possible careers in the motor trade or simply want to find out who does what at your local dealership before buying your next car, you’ll almost certainly come across the term “dealer principal”. So, what does a dealer principal’s role involve, and what experience and qualifications do you need in order to become one?
What Does the Dealer Principal Do?
The dealer principal at a car dealership is essentially a Head of Business or a General Manager. Sometimes, the owner of a smaller, independent dealership will also hold the dealer principal position. The main role of the dealer principal is to oversee the business’s operations. He or she is usually based on-site, although may sometimes need to travel. The job is extremely varied and comes with a great deal of responsibility. Dealer principals can earn anything from £40,000 to £100,000 and work full-time. Weekend work is usually required.
Here are examples of the types of task that a dealer principal might need to carry out:
- Creating and managing the delivery of the dealership’s business plan
- Directly manging senior staff within the business
- Overseeing the staff recruitment, performance and disciplinary processes
- Taking charge of the inventories for new and used vehicles
- Developing marketing strategies and promotions
- Building relationships with corporate clients and other organisations
- Resolving customer complaints and complex queries
- Financial management, including controlling the cash flow
- Ensuring that all regulatory requirements are met, including arranging for the dealership to be covered by an appropriate motor trade insurance policy.
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There are a range of different routes you can take to become a dealer principal, so it’s worth taking advice from a professional careers advisor so you can discover the most appropriate option for you. The role requires you to have a broad skill set, including the ability to carry out high-level marketing, financial and staff management tasks with ease. You’ll also probably need to have at least five years of management experience. Car sales experience and exceptional customer service skills are also essential requirements.
If you’re a young person hoping to take your first step on the motor industry career ladder, you could become an apprentice within a local dealership. You can then work your way up the ranks, gaining additional qualifications as you go. Graduates, particularly those with business or automotive management degrees, may be able to enter the industry at higher grades.