How to Climb the Automotive Corporate Ladder

corporate ladder

Climbing the ladder in the auto industry can be easy if you know what you are doing. While it is not recommended that you stab someone in the back to get ahead, it is advisable to pay attention to politics within your dealership. In many organizations, managers tend to move around often, and changes happen frequently. This can create fast opportunities for the right candidates.

Here are a few suggestions to follow that will set you up to be in the right place at the right time when opportunities for promotion arise.

Show Accountability

The first step in getting promoted in the car business is to show accountability. Show that you are a self-starter. Show that you have the ability to set your own schedule, make your own appointments, and plan your time efficiently. This type of behavior will get you noticed.

Equally important is your ability to own your mistakes. We all make mistakes, but don’t blame others for things that you can control. In fact, don’t blame others even for the things you can’t control either. Good leaders don’t find fault, they find solutions. It was President Harry Truman who made popular the phrase: “the buck stops here”. Make a practice of stopping the buck by taking ownership of any problem that comes your way, and you will get noticed by those above you.

Aptitude for Learning

If you want to get promoted, you have to show the ability to learn new things. You have to show you can adapt and change as you grow and learn. We live and work in a fast-paced, ever-changing world. As new technologies and techniques develop, you need to show the ability to grow and learn and adapt.


When looking to move up, creativity can be a huge competitive advantage. If you can demonstrate the ability to solve problems and come up with creative solutions, you will get the nod over other, less creative candidates.

A word of caution, however. Creativity can be a two-edged sword. Don’t let your creativity evolve into unmanageable behavior. If those above you sense that your creativity gets in the way of your ability to follow directions, you will be tagged as a risk and will be looked over for promotion opportunities.

Ability to Close Deals

Wherever you work in the dealership, your job depends somebody’s ability to exchange of merchandise for money. At its root, this process is the simple psychology of understanding needs, matching needs to your products or services, overcoming objections, and asking for the sale.

If your desire is to someday manage a department, or manage a dealership, you need to demonstrate that you understand this process thoroughly and that you have the ability to close deals. If your background is in sales, this is easy to prove. Show steady, consistent sales performance and you will get noticed.

Earn Trust

Earning the trust of your supervisors and managers is a crucial step to getting promoted. While earning trust is closely related to the topic of accountability that has already been addressed, it is more than just being accountable. Earning trust means showing you can be relied upon to look after the best interest of the dealership, and the best interest of those over you. Managers want to see that you have their back.

Unfortunately, earning trust can also involve a bit of sucking-up to superiors. While most managers do not like an outright brown-noser, you still need to make extra effort to do things the way that your manager likes them done. Of course, this does not mean compromising your morals, or breaking the law. If these types of situations come up, you should bring it up the appropriate authorities. A promotion will require that those above you can trust you, so listen up and do as they say.