Is car sales a good career? Yes, and I’ll explain why.
Why do I believe that? In car sales, there is the real possibility of incredible income with a relatively low barrier of entry.
I made a $1,000,000 US (before tax) in my first six years selling cars, doing what I teach on this blog.
The real question is not if this is a good career, it’s only “if it’s a good career for you!”
In this article, we will address the question, “Is car sales a good career?” and “what personal qualities are non-negotiable.”
We will end with some “left field” thoughts on charity to mix things up.
We will start with the first section, “the math of success.” Here I will show you the under-appreciated power of a career with a low barrier of entry coupled with a robust early income.
The Math Of Success: College vs. Car Sales
Let’s take a pretty common situation and do a little math. Let’s say you are 18 years old, and you are deciding between going straight to college or working for a few years. You are driven… but perhaps not in love with the prospect of more school. You like people. Let’s say that you can decide on two options:
Option 1: Go to College
The school is nearby, and you can live at home for the four full years. You don’t have any academic passions, but everyone is doing it, so hey, why not. Plus you might meet some attractive people. Who knows!
Option 2: Join a Car Dealership and Make Money
Your friend knows this guy, “Mr. Car Sales Story” that can hook you up with a car sales job. You will still be able to live at home for free, but instead of school, you choose to make money and build skills for a few years. I’ll assume that you are in California, and you hustle and learn quickly. Let’s say you make $60k, $80k, $100k, $110k your first four years (before tax). Since you are living at home, you can save 100% of your income, and you invest it with an average return of 7% (if you want more details of how I’m doing these estimates, check out this site).
In this table below, you will see three columns. The first is your predicted income, annually before tax. The second column is the total after-tax money that you will take home monthly. In this thought experiment, we are going to invest all of your money that you make (read assumptions about room and board above- this is to allow us to compare it against a four-year college degree in which room and board are paid for). The third column, therefore, is the end of year net worth after the monthly savings. This math is elementary to replicate with a compound interest calculator.
Here are the results:
Holy… at the end of the 4th year you would have, on average, over a quarter million dollars. According to this site, the average Californian college graduate starts their working life with ~$21k of debt. That means that our college kid graduates with a net worth that is almost $300k less than our car sales guy.
What Are The Long Term Implications Of That Early Start?
Let’s take this one step further. Let’s say that at the start of the 5th year your parents kick you out of their house (it’s about time!) and then everything in your two alternate universes becomes the same. “College Graduate You” and “Car Sales You” both begin living identical lives with the same income and living expenses.
What about the nest egg from those first four years? Let’s say you never add anything, and you never take anything out. Here is that money over the next 40 years (again compounded at 7%):
Yup. I’ll let that sink in. When people say “college is expensive”… they don’t know the half of it.
So, that’s why I believe that car sales career is fantastic. The power of early income (you can start selling cars the day you turn 18 in California) is incredible when you use the power of compound interest. You can do this life-changing job with high school education, some people skills, and a few ounces of hustle.
Let’s Start With Non-Negotiables
If you want to sell cars, you are going to need to be comfortable with talking to strangers every day, day in, day out. Talking with strangers, making them feel comfortable and welcome, making them like you… that’s the bulk of the job. Winning relationships. Creating conversation. You need to like it! If you don’t like talking to people, then every day at the car dealer is going to be an emotional struggle.
The speed at which you can build strong relationships is going to dictate much of your success in car sales. It’s challenging to do something day in day out that you don’t like in the first place, let alone do it for long enough to get to the repeat/referral late game.
Is Car Sales A Good Career? Yes, If You Have Hustle
Hustle, motivation, determination, discipline, whatever you want to call it, you need it. To stand out in sales, you need to be willing to put in long hours (especially in the first 2-3 years), survive constant rejection, and keep the right attitude.
The beauty in 2018 is that you don’t need to look far (or pay much) to find guidance to build your hustle skills. You can Youtube search “Motivation” and never run out of free material to get your engines going.
If you want higher quality content, look to Joe Rogan, the Tim Ferris, and a thousand other content producers that teach their keys to success for free. My role models have helped tremendously in my work life.
Is Car Sales A Good Career? Yes, If You Have Strong Role Models
My parents are both incredibly hard working people, my mother especially. Her work ethic has already been the topic of one of my Linkedin articles, linked here. My Mum is an absolute superstar, a fellow of the Royal Academy, and a Macarthur Genius. When that is your Mum, well, you better succeed!
My dealership has several managers to whom I owe a considerable amount of my success. My General Manager and my Sales Managers (a few over the years) have all been instrumental. I encourage you to seek out people you look up to and make them care about you if you want to succeed in this career. If there is no one at your dealership that you can look up to… you either need to look harder or find a new dealer!
Is Car Sales A Good Career? Yes, If You Have a Clear Goal
My goal, since day 1 in this career, was to reach financial independence. The promise laid out by bloggers like Mr. Money Mustache was the germinated seed in my mind that has grown like crazy over the last six years. I’ve never been particularly greedy, so the promise of freedom from work has always been the highest goal of my financials. The freedom that kind of money could afford me was, and still is, intoxicating. The freedom to work on passion projects (like this website) is the ultimate tool of my money.
Other than academia and medicine, I struggle to think of any career that is worth doing for more than ten years. The beauty of car sales is that this is a career that you can do when you are young to set yourself up financially. After your car sales career, the world is your oyster. You will have money saved in the bank and extremely polished people skills.
Goal Addendum – Charity
The pursuit of financial independence does feel, at times, self-gratifying. It can feel like you are just looking to leverage capitalism to eliminate the need for your work. It’s not fulfilling in a community sense. At least not yet.
To fill that hole that I have, I read the book The Life You Can Save. I found that Peter Singer’s vision, for those of us making substantial incomes to pledge a percentage of our profit to help alleviate extreme poverty, to be the antidote to my foibles with my significant income.
I’ve found a way to share that passion that I have sneakily at my desk.
I placed this evocative and straightforward paper under the glass on my desk. This is the conversation that often transpires:
CUSTOMER: Uh *points at paper* can you tell me about the 5%? Is that an additional discount?
MR.CSS: No, not an additional discount, but definitely something that I would love to tell you about. For the last 5 months, I have been giving 5% of my before-tax income to charity. I know that there are many places where you can buy your next car, but it may be nice for you to know that if you purchase with me, some of your luxury purchase goes towards those in the greatest need.
At this point, almost universally, an exciting discussion develops. The ultimate opportunity to build a relationship. Often customers will espouse their desire to do the same, asking for pointers on how to find the right charities that “they can trust.” Many customers will mention their giving and the charities they support. As of today, every conversation has been positive. Not only have I possibly inspired others to do the same, but I have also made myself different. How many millions do marketers spend to convince customers that their clients are different, unique, and worth doing business with?
When people ask me, “is car sales a good career?” now I can think of the good that my charity can do when I say yes.
Is Car Sales A Good Career? Yes.
So we come back to the original question, is car sales a good career? Car sales is a career that you are in charge of a job where you control many of the variables. Your income is a commission from the profit of your hard work. That said, many people sell cars. Those who lack the internal self-drive to push themselves will squander their time socializing. Those who lack strong role models will have difficulty developing the mental tools to succeed. And finally, those who lack a clear goal (even if it is just financial survival!) will not be able to muster the discipline to put in the work during the difficult initial years when you must carve out your book of business.
Now that you have an idea of my opinion of car sales as a career, what are you going to do? I’d love for you to send me a message with your thoughts. If you want to get started, see the car sales career mega post here!