5 Habits of Successful Dealer Principals

September 25, 2023

Team ACV




5 Habits of Successful Dealer Principals

ACV facts & figures

No items found.
5 Habits of Successful Dealer Principals

Dealer principals constantly look for ways to improve top- and bottom-line performance through various sales, marketing, and operational techniques. However, it can sometimes help to focus on management and leadership skills and the adoption of new habits. Here are five ways that you may be able to improve your company operations by addressing new practices.

5 Steps for Successful Dealer Principals

1. Make More of Your Unique Selling Proposition

Car Dealerships need to identify their unique selling proposition (USP) in a crowded marketplace. A dealer principal can improve performance by capitalizing on their own USP rather than simply taking it for granted. First, identify your USPs.

  • Transparent Pricing: Make it clear that you offer upfront and clear pricing across your entire inventory. Your approach will eliminate any surprises or hidden fees, and as other dealers may not be so transparent, you can develop a strong USP.
  • Complimentary Services: You may have decided to offer loaner cars during a service visit or provide a complimentary car wash service for regular customers. These extra touches could create a compelling USP for your company. 
  • Nationwide Shipping: When you offer nationwide shipping, you may not only extend your selling area, but also offer something that other dealers do not. You could broaden your customer base with this USP.

Once you've identified your USP, you can follow this four-step process:

  • Identify the USP and why those propositions appeal to the target market. For example, focus on your sale of a wide variety of used cars in a specific sector, an exceptional customer service record, or cutting-edge finance solutions.
  • When you've clearly identified the USP, ensure that your staff fully understands it and is ready to communicate it to the customer base through various sales and marketing channels. This effort may require some form of training and top-up from time to time to reinforce the USP and ensure consistency.
  • Take a close look at your marketing efforts to ensure that everything reflects the USP, including social media platforms, print or online ads, the website, and external signage. Clarity and consistency are important.
  • Finally, encourage staff to provide feedback around the USP through open communication channels. This tactic can help breed a culture of innovation and improvement to differentiate your operation from your competitors.

2. Set Goals and Look at the Data

It's crucial for a dealer principal to establish benchmarks and monitor performance. You need to set clear goals that are achievable, measurable, and time bound. Then, you’ll need to monitor the data provided and make informed decisions.

Various tools cater specifically to the automotive industry and have several key features. For example, they could help to maximize vehicle and service merchandising opportunities or monitor sales and finance against given benchmarks. These tools can even provide highly specific data, such as negative parts on hand.Once you have entered the appropriate criteria, you'll be able to increase reliability and efficiency by relying on customizable reports.

3. Turn Over Some Decision-Making to Staff

You can also empower your staff to become more effective by tapping into their skillset. What kind of decisions could you delegate?

  • Pricing Strategy: Once you've set your overall pricing strategy, give salespeople discretion to negotiate prices within a certain range. This could speed up the process when they don't have to consult with other members of the management team for permissions.
  • Work Schedule: Try to give your employees more flexibility when it comes to deciding their work schedules. So long as you have taken care of overall business needs, this  type of delegation could lead to an increase in job satisfaction and staff retention rates.
  • Inventory Management: You may be able to get your sales staff involved in inventory management. After all, they're often at the "sharp end" when interacting with customers, and they may get a better understanding of market trends as they happen.

4. Focus On and Understand the Customer

When the dealer focuses on the customer's needs and understands their preferences, it can help create a better shopping experience and build long-lasting relationships. Here are some suggestions:

  • Surveys: Conduct short surveys to gather insights into the client’s needs and preferences. You can run these in person, on the website, or through email. You can ask the customer for feedback about their previous experience with the dealer.
  • Data Collection: The business can also collect data using customer relationship management (CRM) software to build knowledge about customer behavior and preferences over time. You could gather this data from general enquiries, test drives, or previous purchases.
  • Data Analysis: Analysts can mine the data to identify patterns and trends relating to the types of cars the customer may be interested in, preferred features they search for, or budget ranges. In turn, this data can help predict future trends.
  • Personalized Communication: The dealership can use the results of this data mining to craft personalized communications. This can also help tailor promotions and advertising to match the target audience's needs.
  • Listening Techniques: Train customer service teams and salespeople so they actively listen to customers. One effective tactic is asking open-ended questions that can often give a more detailed answer.

5. Constantly Evolve

Monitor performance using a variety of metrics and strategies so you can look for areas of improvement and implement them. This idea will help you develop the business using active data. You can adjust individual vehicle prices when you look closely at your KPIs (sales, conversions, and gross profit). Monitoring demand and inventory keeps stock of the correct vehicles for your market.

If you have several stores within your dealership group, consider some new software tools3. This strategy will help you appraise inventory with all stores in mind to try to perfect each store's product mix and give every appraisal a better opportunity.

Work With ACV Auctions

You can also work with the country's leading online car auction for dealers, so you never miss the inventory you need. ACV will help you to source your vehicles nationwide with confidence, using trust and transparency, and we offer the best condition report on the market. We also offer straightforward and flexible financial solutions with no hidden fees.

On average, you can save up to 20 hours per month using our wholesale solutions, so why not register today for further information?


1. Want More Productive Employees – Tell Them to Take a Break. Retrieved on 29 August 2023 from: https://www.staples.com/sbd/cre/tech-services/explore-tips-and-advice/infographs/breakroom-2014-infographic.html

2. Four Ways to Be a Better Listener in Sales Conversations. Retrieved on 29 August 2023 from: https://www.richardson.com/blog/improve-listening-skills-sales/

3. Every Store Performs Better When You Grow Together. Retrieved from: on 29 August 2023 from https://www.vauto.com/products/provision/enterprise/

4. Vehicle Inventory Management from VIN Solutions. Retrieved on September 7, 2023 from: https://www.vinsolutions.com/dealership-software/inventory-management/

5. AutoRaptor – the only wingman that's always selling. Retrieved on September 7, 2023 from: https://www.autoraptor.com/

6. AutoMate. Get the DMS Functionality and Value You Deserve. Retrieved on 7 September 2023 from: https://dealersocket.com/automate-c/`