Although the field of car sales has long been dominated by men, the winds of change are shifting and women car sales consultants, or salespersons, are entering this career like never before. Becoming a car sales consultant is a good fit for you if you're a gregarious, charismatic self-starter, who is unafraid to learn her craft while on the job. The flexible hours are well-suited to a woman who is looking forward to starting a family. Although the base salary is modest, many consultants make a good living on sales commissions and bonuses.
Average Base Salary
The national average base salary for car sales consultants, according to the website Salary Expert, is $26,368. There are geographic differences noted among 10 randomly selected cities: Augusta, Maine, $17,422; Pierre, S.D., $20,491; Washington, D.C., $22,968; Walla Walla, Wash., $24,987; Miami, $25,378; Houston, $25,603; New York, $26,278; Baltimore, $27,211; Chicago, $27,461 and Philadelphia, $31,072. The range in salaries among these 10 cities is $13,650.
The more money a sales consultant makes for her dealership, the more commission goes into her pocket. While some sales consultants work on a commission-only basis, some offer base salary plus commission. Although commissions vary by dealership, a traditional arrangement is 20 to 25 percent of the amount over the invoice cost, according to the website Aol Autos. The average commission for car sales consultants in 2009 was $250 per vehicle sold, according to consumer advocate and former car salesperson Michael Royce, and most sales consultants sell about 9 cars a month. Based on these figures, you could add about $27,000 to your base salary with commissions.
Bonuses are also an important part of your overall salary as a car sales consultant. For example, Internet sales consultants may work on a base salary plus volume basis, meaning the more they sell, the more they earn. Bonuses are called "spiffs" in this business, and they vary by dealership. Examples include meeting profit targets such as selling a car $1,000 over invoice, selling extras such as fabric protection and extended warranties or selling a vehicle that is hard to move.
Jobs for all retail sales positions, including car sales consultants, will increase by 17 percent between 2010 and 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This figure is a little higher than the projected 14 percent cited by the BLS for all occupations. Car sales consultants selling parts and service in addition to new and used cars will fare best, as people tend to keep their cars longer in a sluggish economy. Traditionally selling used cars are more profitable than selling new cars, and selling extra and meeting volume targets is more profitable than straight commission, according to Aol Autos and Edmunds.
2016 Salary Information for Retail Sales Workers
Retail sales workers earned a median annual salary of $23,040 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, retail sales workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $19,570, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $30,020, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 4,854,400 people were employed in the U.S. as retail sales workers.
- Job Awareness: Top Five Duties of New/Used Car Sales Consultant
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Retail Sales Workers
- Salary Expert: Car Salesman
- Car Sales Professional: The Car Sales Woman – It’s Your Time
- Edmunds: Where Does the Car Dealer Make Money?
- AOL Autos: How Much Do Car Salesman Earn?
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Retail Sales Workers
- Career Trend: Retail Sales Workers
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images