Obsolete Recruiting Processes Contributes to High Employee Turnover at Auto Dealerships

How High is Auto Dealership Employee Turnover?

All too often, we hear dealership managers lament the costs of turnover from bad hires that should have never made it through the hiring process. Hiring without an effective selection process in place can feel like buying a car without test-driving it first, and, unfortunately, there is no lemon law to protect against a bad hire.

Auto dealership employee turnover has long been an issue. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s (NADA) most recent Dealership Workforce Study, the annual turnover rate for all dealership positions is 39.4 percent. The automotive retailer position with the highest turnover rate is the sales consultant, with an annual turnover rate of 71.9 percent, and a three-year retention rate of only 32.8 percent.

NADA Chief Economist Steven Szakaly says the high turnover rate of sales consultants can be attributed to two factors: “First, this represents many entry-level workers who decided to try sales but then realized they did not like it. Second, automotive retailing is going through major industry changes, which is putting pressure on sales staff earnings.” Consumer expectations are evolving and new technologies are dramatically changing vehicles, creating different requirements from sales consultants.

As many dealership managers already know, the costs of employee turnover are high and broad-reaching. Workload piles up on steadfast employees, stress builds, quality of work falters, customer service suffers –diminishing the public image of the dealership, productivity decreases, and more employees start looking for other jobs. Not to mention the most visible costs of employee turnover, the recruitment costs: advertising for new positions, time spent interviewing candidates, money spent on background checks, drug screens, and any other due diligence.

Why is Dealership Hiring so Inefficient?

Based on our research of the top automotive groups in the United States, nearly 35 percent of them do not use an applicant tracking system. An even larger percentage of these dealerships are using an ATS that is not optimized for mobile, does not have the option for prescreen questions, and does not offer sales assessments for applicants. Either due to clunkiness of the software or the lack of alignment with dealership hiring goals, these dealerships are not able to fully realize the benefits of an ATS, which may be one of the reasons that dealerships across the industry continue to struggle to retain long-term sales, service, and F&I talent. Without the ability to identify the right candidates across departments, dealerships are more likely to hire an unqualified dealership workforce, and continue to waste time and money doing it.

What Can Dealerships Do to Address Auto Dealership Turnover?

An industry-leading, mobile optimized applicant tracking system, like CareerPlug, empowers auto dealerships to develop an efficient and effective hiring process to attract, identify, interview, and onboard quality candidates. We go the extra mile in helping our clients identify top sales talent with unlimited access to candidate assessments, and we distill our years of hiring expertise into hiring tools that virtually any owner, manager, or team member can use to hire effectively. At CareerPlug, we understand that effective hiring can drastically improve the most widespread, deep-seated dealership operations challenges.

What’s Next?

Start making better hires at your dealership. Check out more of our hiring advice and how-to guides on our Resources page.

Monica Escobedo is a Marketing Intern with CareerPlug.


[1] National Automobile Dealers Association. New Report: Employee Salaries at New-Car Dealerships Rise. Oct. 27, 2015.

[2] Driving Sales News. NADA Study Reveals 71 Percent Turnover for Dealership Sales Positions. Oct. 27, 2015

[3] Nolinske, Terrie. National Business Research Institute. Survey Research Yields Data on Employee Turnover.

Recent Posts

Steve Fowler

Manager of Partner Growth

Christina Waite

Platform Engineering Manager

Taylor Coleman

Tier 2 Manager

Al Foote

Consultant Manager

Sydney Kidd

Tier 1 Manager

Nicolle Gatlin

Manager of Partner Success

Aiden Kinney

Consultant Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager


Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.


Brandy Lee

Business Intelligence Manager

Eric Morales

Manager of Account Executives

Kirsten Penaloza

Director of Client Experience

Zach Garcia

Senior Manager of Operations

Tulay Solak

HR Manager

Tyler Berndsen

Manager of Partnership Account Executives

Ashley Johnson

Senior Manager of Partner Services

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Kate Sensmeier

VP Marketing

Ashley Garia

Director of Product Marketing

Canaan Davis

Director of Engineering

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Brad Pilot

Senior Director of Sales

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Chris Igou

VP of Business Development

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.