The Best Way to Ask for a Raise in Car Sales


If your paychecks are disappointing week after week and you want to do something about it, here’s the best way to ask for a raise at your auto dealership

Why did you get into the field of auto sales? Did you have an image in your mind of those snazzy-looking car salespeople who pull in six figures a year? Don’t worry — you’re not alone.

The six-figure dream is not impossible at all, but the average car salesperson made a little over $45,000 in 2015. Individual salaries and minimum commissions, though, can vary widely depending on where you live and what type of vehicles you’re selling. If you feel you’ve put in the time and want a pay boost, stop thinking about the best way to ask for a raise and make it happen.

Reflect on how you’re getting paid now, and what kind of raise you want

01-the-best-way-to-ask-for-a-raise-in-car-sales-01Pay structures are different in every dealership, but most abide by one of two methods: commission and salary.

If you’re paid on strict commission, you’re probably getting about 25 percent of the gross profit of each sale and anywhere from $50-$200 per mini. Dealerships that favor the commission model feel that working on commission gives salespeople an added push to get out there and do their absolute best every day (because if they don’t sell cars, they don’t get paid).

Commission-based sales have been the foundation of the auto industry, but many dealerships are beginning to dish out traditional salaries for their salespeople. Edmunds reports that in these situations, salespeople get a base salary, fixed payments per sale, and bonuses tied to the total number of cars sold. Proponents of the salary model feel that by providing more financial stability, salespeople are more inclined to help customers find cars that truly fit their needs. And, with 40 percent of newly hired salespeople jumping ship within 90 days, dealership owners hope salary will help with employee retention.

Consider how you’re paid — commission or salary — and what kind of raise would be a) reasonable to ask for and b) fair for both parties. For example, a request that could make sense would be asking for 30 percent commission instead of 25, or a 3 percent increase in annual salary.

02-the-best-way-to-ask-for-a-raise-in-car-sales-01You want to know the best way to ask for a raise…but do you deserve a raise?

Everyone would love a raise, so before you put your professional reputation on the line, make sure it’s the right point in your career to ask for one. The general rule is that you should wait at least a year after you’re hired to ask for a raise. With a year of sales under your belt, you’ll be able to prove your impact over a 12-month period.

If you’re asking for a raise, you obviously would like to be paid more money — but what have you done to earn it? If you’re only meeting your quota every month, then you’ve shown your boss that you’re worth the amount you’re currently making. Employees that consistently go above and beyond and crush their quotas are the ones who get raises. A good rule of thumb? Don’t ask for a raise until you’re exceeding your quota by 20 percent or more. Make yourself invaluable and widely respected before you ask for a raise — that will have the biggest impact on whether or not it’s approved.

03-the-best-way-to-ask-for-a-raise-in-car-salesWhat’s the best way to ask for a raise?

Once you’ve decided you deserve a raise, and you know what kind of realistic boost you’d be happy with, reach out to your boss (usually the sales manager) in person or via e-mail. In this initial contact, do not ask for the raise — just tell them you’re hoping to discuss your performance and would like to schedule a good time to talk.

If you’re serious about getting a raise, it needs to be done in person, face-to-face. It’s a good idea, however, to also write a letter that you can leave with your boss at the end of the discussion if they ask for time to think about it (and that’s usually what will happen). That letter should have bullet points that detail exact milestones you have achieved over the last year and the ways you have gone above and beyond in your position. Saying, “I’ve been here a year now, and I’d like a raise” is just not enough.

You should also discuss each of those bullet points in person. Walk your boss through what you’ve achieved, and also tell them what goals you’ve set for yourself over the next year or six months. Talking about the future shows them that you’re committed to continually improving.

During your discussion, the best way to ask for a raise is not just in the words that you’re saying, but how you say them. Your tone of voice should be friendly and straightforward, but not aggressive or accusatory. It’s your time to shine and show your boss what you’re made of — so if you feel you actually deserve that raise, go out there and get it.

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Patrick H.
Patrick H.