This is a great bit of career advice I’m seeking, and I would love it if you could make it anonymous. I’ve been with my dealership for nine years. Should I get a vendor job? I know I’ve accomplished a lot. As you know, without trying to toot my own horn, I believe I’m fairly well-known and well-regarded in the industry as someone who knows what he is talking about, especially about being an automotive vendor.
While I really enjoy my dealership job, I’ll admit, sometimes the grind gets to me. I’m still not above getting brain damage from management and ownership. I know that ownership realizes I’m doing a very good job, but sometimes I think they don’t give me as much credit as I deserve. It seems I’ve built a good enough reputation to receive a pretty good job offer with (dealer vendor name hidden) as a (role hidden) and think it may be too good to pass up. It is less money, but I’d get my weekends back. 🙂
Since you made the jump from your retail car dealership job to a dealer vendor, I’d love to hear your opinion. Is the grass greener on the other side? Should I go for it?
Big differences between an automotive job and a dealership job
First off, congratulations on your continued success. You certainly are doing something right if automotive vendors are knocking at your door. I figure they would be. On the other side of the coin, “don’t you put this on me, Ricky Bobby.” This is too big of a decision for me to help decide. All I can do is tell you what I’ve seen over the years as I watch other people make the jump from dealership to vendor. I’ll do my best to share my knowledge on the differences between vendors and dealers.
To start, yes, you’re right. You will get your weekends back (usually). At least with (auto vendor name hidden), it will be the type of work schedule that makes a wife and kids happy. Hard to put a price tag on that. But I realize you do have to put a price tag on that, and, typically, dealers (when you’re doing as well as you are) pay considerably better than when you first enter the vendor space. You’ll catch up eventually to what you are at, but it may take a while, so be prepared. You’d likely need to jump up to another role in that organization to match your current pay.
One thing many that leave retail in your role don’t realize when they take a vendor job (at least the type of auto vendor you’re going to), is that they have their wings proverbially clipped. You’re known for sharing wisdom and hitting all the conferences, after all. And the company you are considering going to sends employees in that role to attend the automotive conferences, let alone speak at them. I know growing your name recognition, and “brand” seems to have fueled you over the years, but you may want to have a long talk with (hidden vendor name) first. Big vendors like stealing thoroughbreds from dealerships but rarely let them be show ponies.
In the end, I’m a family man, and while I know it took me a while before I made the money I was making at the dealer level with my own company, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The time I spend with my wife and kids is worth a fortune. Then again, I chose to start my own company and not take one of the vendor jobs offered. This is mainly because I’m arrogant and grew weary of answering to anyone other than myself. And I, too, liked the dealer group where I worked. For me, it was just time to do my own thing.
Granted, I gave four weeks’ notice to my dealer and started DealerKnows officially in October of 2008 – about a month before the bottom dropped out of the industry. It was tough times for a while; I will not lie to you.
Dealerships feel like a home. Sure, there are squabbles and headaches at home, but in the end, you’re a part of a family. (At least for you and I as we both worked/work at family-owned groups). I’ve always imagined automotive vendor jobs at a big company would feel less like family and more like being a part of a sports team. You won’t see the field much, but you can be a fan of the team. As a part of the team, you celebrate when they win, but you are benched more often than not. You won’t receive the same amount of accolades as the primary players (“starters”) with the company get.
Making the switch to a vendor job
Either way, it’s a BIG step – and one that I hope works out for you if you choose to go the vendor route. I’ve seen many high-profile dealership managers make the leap to a vendor job, and they seem to bounce around from vendor to vendor for the next few years before settling back down at a dealership. I watch their LinkedIn profiles have job change after job change like they contracted Restless Job Syndrome or something. So if you leave a cushy spot that pays well with tremendous job security like you have now, make sure it is the right fit.
Everyone feels different about making the switch. Some are thankful. Some regret it. I think you’d be great as an (undisclosed vendor job), but will you be fulfilled? Will repping that company’s goods or services allow you the freedom to do what you love doing on social media and at automotive conferences? While I can’t answer the question for you or tell you what to do, I can certainly wish you the best.
I think you are in a great spot where you’re at, but I don’t know the inner workings of your dealer group. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine and rainbows it looks to be. I guess what I am trying to say is that the grass is not always greener, but it depends on what you want your lawn to look like.
Are YOU considering jumping ship too? If so, almost a decade ago, I wrote a blog (that still holds up) helping you determine if it is time to Get Out of Dodge.