“Auto Dealer Live”: How David Villa’s Savvy Podcast Promotes Positive Industry Change

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On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome back David Villa, host of the “Auto Dealer Live” podcast and CEO if iPD. With over 20 years of Auto Industry experience, David decided to share his expertise with others by starting “Auto Dealer Live” 7 years ago. The show facilitates productive discussions about topics like industry standards, sales training, and company culture just to name a few. David and his co-hosts work to bring together auto retail’s leading industry players in an effort to inspire positive change.

auto dealer liveVIDEO TRANSCRIPT: 
Jim Fitzpatrick:
David, I want to welcome you into CBT news for a nice talk we’ll have today.

David Villa:
Hey Jim, thank you so much, man. It’s my pleasure. Thank you for the invite and I really do appreciate the opportunity to sit down with you.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure. So talk to us about, seven year anniversary, right? For the podcast.

David Villa:
Yeah. This past May, we celebrated it for the entire month. It was something that we looked at and said, wow, we’ve been doing this for seven years.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s great.

David Villa:
Thank you. And so we said, let’s do something to celebrate our audience. It was really less about us and really about the industry and the audience and just having fun. And it was a it was a blast. We developed the concept of OGs in automotive podcasts. That was some of the younger millennials here on our staff. And so we just came up with that concept, ran with it, just had a blast, in May. And it was just one of these things where, we brought on some guests, Matt Lasco, which is a friend. I know you know Matt, you’ve had him on, but Matt is the owner of Lasco Ford and Grand Blanc Mitsubishi, in Fenton, Michigan.

David Villa:
And for the first year of our podcast, he’s a client and a friend of mine. And for the first year of our podcast, he was on 52 weeks in a row. He said to me, he goes, “I believe in what you’re doing. I will be on every week.” And we talked about subprime finance 52 times and…

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s a lot of subprime finance content.

David Villa:
[inaudible 00:02:06], man. But we had Matt come on, and some others from the past, just to kind of reminisce a little bit, but it was really cool. And, seven years. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity to just-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Talk to us about the cohost that you have on, because you’ve got an ensemble of guys that I think make all the difference.

David Villa:
Yeah, they carry it for sure. I would certainly not want to do it by myself, and it’s changed over the years a little bit. The gentleman Chris Richer, that’s sitting next to me now, that’s back, has been back on for a few months. He was the original VP of sales and marketing. He came from AutoNation before he came to our company and sold for us for a year and then became our marketing director and then our vice president of marketing and sales. And he came up with the concept, and so it was his idea. And so we started doing that and so we brought him back. He’s always worked with us. He worked with us for four or five years as an employee, then he started a marketing company, serving [inaudible 00:03:12] industries, and we use him for some products.

David Villa:
Well he actually came back a few months ago to host the show with me. And then, when he left originally, I did do it by myself, and it was not fun. And David Cribbs, who most of our listeners… Because during the growth period he was the cohost with me, became an employee here. He was our training director for iPD. And, from the get go, within a month, he was co-hosting the show with me. It was a shoe-in, he and I hit it off well, and then so he’s on. And then, Joe Calla, which Joe is our vice president of sales and operations for our auto dealer university platform. We brought Joe on because Joe has been in the car business since 1994 and just really great guy.

David Villa:
And so there’s your ensemble. We did have one other cohost, Tommy Elwell, who was in for an interim period, and brought some comic relief and you’ll see some more Tommy here soon. But that’s our coho… I mean, I think it’s a group of characters that definitely makes it hard to get a moment to speak. But, it’s good.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Kind of take us back a little bit, and talk to us about your marketing company.

David Villa:
Regarding our marketing company, we’ve been in business for a long time. I started as a kind of a boutique agency, calling local dealers myself in Florida, throughout the mid nineties to early two thousands, and selling direct mail, going into dealerships as a young guy, having a couple of sales reps with me, getting my teeth kicked in by desk managers and GMs, that had been in the business a long time and looked at me as a, how can you help me, boy.

David Villa:
And developed tough skin. Just developed a love for this industry. Loving the process. I saw some of the best salespeople that I’d ever seen in my life, and just really developed a passion for this industry and the people of it. And as far as marketing, our company, we went national in 2004, started an inside sales team. I’d only done outside sales and so I took that concept, developed a training for it, and really started training salespeople to call on dealerships. And what we were doing face to face, going in and saying, “Hey, Mr. Smith, can I get a few minutes of your time? I’m going to be in Miami,” and spending 30 minutes in front of them, we started doing that over the phone.

David Villa:
And the company’s grown exponentially over the years. And then of course we’ve added a training platform about two years ago called Auto Dealer University, which has been a huge passion of mine.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah. Talk to us-

David Villa:
And it’s interesting, because-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
… about that, because that’s something that the auto industry certainly is lacking, is the proper sales training and such.

David Villa:
Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, I agree with you. And that was grown organically as well. As a trainer, and somebody who… I was always told this. I’m sure, again, because we have a lot of similarities in some of the companies that we’re part of. I’m sure you’ve been told this, you brought in people that did not have an automotive background to come into your organization, to solicit dealerships, and fail and say, I sold stocks or I sold insurance and this is by far the hardest sale I’ve ever done in my entire life. And they quit. They can’t do it.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s right.

David Villa:
And then I’ve had people come in and do okay, and go somewhere else and become the president of a company. And say, “Your sales training and what I learned selling dealerships, that’s why I can do what I do today.” So I thought, maybe we have something. And we started training sales people a few years ago, and then, of course, non automotive and then automotive. And so that’s been something I’m very passionate about. And I think the dealerships training is an expense, primarily, rather than an investment. And I think that if that changes, that they’ll see success.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
And with Auto Dealer University, will it be online training? Will it be in store? Classroom? In Florida? Walk me through that.

David Villa:
Absolutely. It’s online, and there are 29 trainers and about 1,250 courses currently.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Wow.

David Villa:
And kind of the premise… Yes sir. Kind of the premise of… And by the way, we try to turn down, and we have actually, walked away from on-site training deals, because that’s what dealers default to. Because that’s the way they’ve done it. Now, I can look at it this way, that an on-site training, it might be affective for a day, but a month from now, you’re going to forget about that. And it’s not going to be something that lasts. And so, online training is really where it’s at, because you can do it daily, where a trainer can’t be in your dealership every day. And it’s the expense versus investment, I think is really getting the sales people to use it. And that’s some of the things that we’ve been focused on. But, one of the cool things, Jim, and you’ll like this, half of the trainers in our platform are currently employed or run dealerships.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Oh wow.

David Villa:
So they’re actual dealers.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Yeah, they know the real world out there for sure. Hey, talk to us… Let me switch gears a little bit. You are the president and owner of a progressive marketing company. Obviously, everything is digital, we live in a digital world now. What do you say to the dealer out there that… You guys sell a lot of direct mail. What do you say to the dealer that says direct mail? Everything’s digital. Why would I do any direct mail on my dealership?

David Villa:
Yeah. Every day. Every day. Well, number one, as you guys know and as you do and you have to do, and I don’t think as many direct mail companies do, as like us, but I think you have to connect. I think you have to have the digital with the traditional. I personally am a believer in direct mail by itself is not effective. And I am a direct mail guy. I didn’t say it wouldn’t generate a response. I just don’t think it’s effective. I don’t think that the average consumer today believes some of the giant flyer type, huge blanket type mailers that go out-

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Scratch offs, or whatever.

David Villa:
And push [inaudible 00:09:20]. Yeah. I mean, I think in certain markets, maybe in the US, it still generates some response. But for the most part, I don’t think that the average consumer believes that. And buys into it. So I think direct mail by itself is dead. I think that… But I also think that digital, and this is what I think makes you and I, and the companies, I think our product’s good and necessary, because I don’t know a dealer that’s not scared to death. And I mean personal dealers that share conversation with me that aren’t scared to death on what their ROI really is for digital. They don’t know. And so I think connected is a very good word. And I think that, because you need something to put teeth into to perform an ROI, because my experience is dealers will cancel anything eventually that they do not know what they… How many cars they sold.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
That’s a very good… No truer words have been stated.

David Villa:
So, I think that digital is an obvious thing, that we’re in a digital world. I think everyone knows that. The dealers know that. And I think they know they have to be there. I don’t think that they are aware of how they need to be there, and what’s effective. And I think that it puts us in a really good place, because if we can present a solution, then I believe then that puts us… That gives us opportunity, because they’re looking for a solution. They’re looking for somebody to say, “Hey, I have a solution for you.”

David Villa:
And so I think that that puts us in a great position. But I think that if you’re doing traditional without digital, you’re a dinosaur. But I think if you don’t have something that’s going to ground it, I don’t think that you’re going to possibly retain that business as long as you’d like to. And so I think that that’s my opinion of the matter.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Sure, sure. Well, I don’t want to take up too much more of your time. I know you are extremely busy guy, running three different companies there, between the training and you’re auto dealer live, which is a podcast that I think every dealer needs to try and tune into. For those of you that watch CBT, and have not heard about auto dealer live, check it out. It’s Thursdays. In my estimation, it’s a must see, tune into it and not only that, but subscribe to it, because it’s phenomenal. If you’re in the car business, there’s a couple of things that you need to tune into. CBT is with that list, but a but ADP, or that’s to say, Auto Dealer Live rather, is right at the top of the list.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
So I want to thank you very much, David Villa, for joining us here today on CBT news. We’d love to have you back, talk more about these issues if time allows. And, until next time, I appreciate it.

David Villa:
Absolutely. Hey Jim, thank you so much, man. Hope you have a great week, and talk to you soon, sir.

Jim Fitzpatrick:
Thank you. You too.

Speaker 1:
CBT Automotive Network, the number one most watched network in retail automotive. This has been a JBF Business Media production.

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