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From Selling Vacuums To Owning a Dealership – Dave Warren Shares His Story

  • January 9, 2023
21 min read
From Selling Vacuums To Owning a Dealership – Dave Warren Shares His Story

Ilana Shabtay, Fullpath
VP of Marketing

Dave Warren, Dave Warren Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
Owner and Managing Partner

Dave Warren is the Owner and Managing Partner at Dave Warren Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in New York. He has 30 years of experience in the retail automotive space specializing in advertising, budgeting, inventory management, leadership, and marketing. Dave is also the Owner of Argo of Westfield, which offers ATVs, XTVs, and UTVs, Bintelli of Westfield, selling street legal electric vehicles, and Krown of Westfield, providing vehicle rust protection services.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Dave Warren’s journey into the automotive space
  • How Dave expands his dealership regularly
  • Dave’s sales and marketing strategies — and his projections for 2023
  • Should car salespeople be re-trained?

In this episode…

What can car dealerships expect from the market in 2023? How can you adapt to changing market conditions?

The used car market has experienced many changes over the last couple of years. There has been an increase in competition, a shortage of inventory, and changing consumer preferences. To stay ahead of the curve and drive sales, it’s essential that dealerships implement more efficient marketing strategies, remain agile, and provide valuable customer experiences.

In this episode of the InsideAuto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay is joined by Dave Warren, the Owner and Managing Partner at Dave Warren Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, to talk about how he adapts his dealership to the fluctuating market. They also discuss future projections for the used car market and how to get salespeople more engaged in driving used car sales.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by AutoLeadStar, a company that helps car dealerships engage quality customers on the web and convert them into car buyers.

Co-founded by Aharon Horwitz, Yishai Goldstein, and Eliav Moshe, AutoLeadStar’s state-of-the-art software automates a dealership’s entire marketing funnel and provides around-the-clock service for dealers.

AutoLeadStar’s innovative technology helps dealerships automate ads, connect with customers, and discover ROI and performance metrics.

Visit their website at to learn more about their around-the-clock marketing service.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:03

Welcome to InsideAuto Podcast where we feature everyone and anyone you’d want to talk to you in and out of the automotive industry.

Ilana Shabtay 0:14

Ilana Shabtay here, host of InsideAuto Podcast where we interview top dealers, GMs, marketers, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in and out of the automotive industry. And before we introduce today’s guest, this episode is sponsored by AutoLeadStar is automotive’s first and leading customer data and experience platform, CDXP. Top dealers invest in CDXPs to unify dealership data sources, automatically create one-to-one customized journeys, and execute omni-channel shopping experiences. Today we have Dave Warren coming to the podcast. Dave, welcome.

Dave Warren 0:47

Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Ilana Shabtay 0:49

Yeah, I’m excited. This is actually the first time that we get to connect. So I’m looking forward to learning about you in the dealership. Dave is the Owner of Dave Warren CDJR in New York. He has years of experience in the retail automotive space and is determined to make the world a better place. He specializes in advertising, budgeting, inventory management, leadership, marketing, and so much more. So we look forward to hearing all about your expertise on today’s episode.

Dave Warren 1:14

Great, can’t wait to get started.

Ilana Shabtay 1:17

Yeah, um, so before we do jump into some of the nitty gritty and how your dealerships been doing, I’d love to get some insight into how you ended up in automotive. Everyone has a really interesting story. I’ve heard like, a very basic like, Oh, my father tell some really crazy stories. I’d love to hear your.

Dave Warren 1:35

Well, that’s funny, because it is a crazy story. So let’s see, I graduated high school in 1993. Not really sure what I wanted to do. So school was never really my favorite thing. So I figured out I’ll take a year off and see what happens. So I found an ad in the newspaper for a sales job. So I went to it and got hired on the spot. And long story short, it was actually a sales job going door to door selling rainbow vacuum cleaners. And so I did that for a month and actually had some really good success at doing that. And I’ll never forget, my my dad walked into my room the one night and he said, listen, he says I know you’re having success at this and and I know you’re doing well and I’m proud of you. But at the same token one day, you’re gonna get married and have grandbabies. And I just cannot see you supporting my grandbaby selling vacuum cleaners door to door. So he has some relationships. He used to run a Professional Bowlers tour stop in our hometown. And one of the sponsors for that event was a car dealership. And so he had that connection, you know, told him what I was doing. And they gave me a used car sales job that day. So you know, the rest is kind of history from there. So I started there sold cars for about four years. And then I got an opportunity to start going to the auction and buying cars and then doing backup f&i. And once I was doing that, I got noticed that the auction buying cars, and then that turned into a full time job, being a wholesaler buying cars for a big Auto Group. And then from there, they promoted me to us car manager. And then I got married, had kids at twin daughters, and then came back to my hometown of Erie PA and worked my way up from a new car manager to GSM to GM. And multiple times at that store where I was GM for 10 years, I tried to buy that store and the owner just wouldn’t never let go of or give me the opportunity to do that. And through a friend the knew of the store that was for sale, which is the store that I have now. And and I’m mutual connection with a guy that was looking to buy more stores that was looking for somebody like me, that didn’t have all the capital because it takes so much capital to own one of these things. And so basically that was his business model. His business model was to find young guys that were talented and give them the opportunity. And obviously there was a buy in on my part. And eight years later, here we are.

Ilana Shabtay 4:30

That’s awesome. It’s really cool. How you basically did you had so much exposure to the dealership before and you knew exactly that. That’s what you wanted to do. I like that story a lot. And I’m sure you can attribute some of the success to the vacuums No.

Dave Warren 4:44

Oh yeah, I mean, I still remember the pitch to this day. You know, the you know, you take the air that you breathe in you put it through the dirtiest place in your home and right back out in the air you breathe. Why would you want to do that? That’s awesome. That was the pitch

Ilana Shabtay 5:00

I’m no but I also think there’s a lot. I mean, you have to be, in order to understand car sales you really I feel like any sales position where you’re really hustling is a good way to get in. I actually just had a podcast with another dealer of Mercedes Benz of Easton. And he also came out, he came from Israel. He finished the IDF. He was like, I don’t want to go to school. That’s not my thing. I know, I can hustle. I know, I can sell. He saw an ad. He started at a dealership. And it was just like, you know, that was that’s how he started his career. So that’s what I love about automotive.

Dave Warren 5:37

You know, and I tell I tell a lot of people that once you get into it, it’s like a fraternity. It’s tough to get out. You know, I mean, it’s hard to believe that, um, you know, coming up this year will be 30 years for me.

Ilana Shabtay 5:49

Wow. Yeah. Yeah. It’s kind of I mean, I know also so many people who tried to get out and then they just boomerang right back into the industry. They go, Oh, I went to healthcare for a few years. And but I couldn’t, I couldn’t leave. They all come back. It’s a simple industry. And now you are opening up a new LSV and powersport. dealership at point right into

Dave Warren 6:13

you. Yeah. So we thank you. Thank you. We’re looking to widen our footprint. And part of that footprint was a separate use car dealership. So I found that actually, it used to be an old Pontiac Buick GMC dealership. That was available. So it’s sitting as an empty, empty lot. And so it excuse me, my dog just walked in here. Okay, he’s invited. She, she wants to know what’s going on here. You want to be on the podcast? So here she is. You can see her. What’s her name? Her name’s Goldie. nosey. Beautiful. Okay, you ever get that? So anyways, so anyway, we, you know, as we were standing there, and I said to myself, Man, I’m just don’t know if this thing alone us, Carolina is going to make it and today with how tough things are right now. And obviously, we can get into that a little bit. But so yeah, I stumbled across, well, I really started going down the path of maybe, hey, let’s open this with a power sports lot in a used car location. So, you know, the problem with you know, trying to give them the power sports business is you’re in a situation where the, the, you know, it’s kind of like the car market, you know, if you’re with when the any of the big brand names now becomes a race to the bottom of trying to sell it so. So I stumbled across this company called Bintelli, and Bintelli, make street legal golf carts, which are lsvs. They’re low speed vehicles. So these are vehicles that you can actually drive on the road. Every state has their different policy, but I’m in New York state, it can be driven on any road that’s 35 miles an hour or less, and you put an actual plate on it and everything so so we’re excited about that. They also do the E bikes, which is a very big thing that is, you know, popular today. So we’ll have that there. And then we are teaming up with a brand called Argo, which, if you’re a big hunter fisherman, you know that brand, they make six Wheeler eight wheelers that they’re amphibious vehicles. And now they’ve also gotten into the four wheeler and the side by side game as well. So really excited about that. It’s kind of a fresh thing for me, I guess, something new, something different. Plus, you know, we’ll still have the automotive side there as well. So,

Ilana Shabtay 8:39

yeah, I know, it’d be interesting to see like the the marketing strategies and the different audiences and how you roll something like that out. You’ll come back on and tell us how that will go. When do you have estimated date of when that should open?

Dave Warren 8:52

So actually, we did a soft opening here in the month of December. And from there, we are going to do a grand opening coming February, March. We had some big auto shows planned. You know, the governor of New York is real big. In this whole Evie push. So we are going to have a separate booth up at the buffalo auto show where we’re going to be pushing you know this introducing a lot of this stuff to the public.

Ilana Shabtay 9:19

When it comes to the the marketing strategy this past year. How did you Was there anything specific that you implemented it doesn’t even have to be marketing, let’s say marketing and sales just because there’s so many things in the market that was changing the market was so dynamic that dealers had to be very quick and and flexible when it came to you know, implementing different strategies or maybe you had the right strategies in place that could are already be dynamic based on the market. But was there anything that you feel like you did, that really helped you react to, for example, inventory changes or use car market prices? and things like that.

Dave Warren 10:02

Well, you know, I think there for a while, um, you know, it was a dream come true for most car dealers, you know, you couldn’t do anything wrong, you know, you buy a car at the auction, or you take something in on trade, and then two weeks, it’s worth more money, you know. So, you know, we are all living in a time where like, you know, mistakes can be made. And so now, I’ve seen here in the last probably 90 days, even maybe a little bit more than that, that we’re getting back to the reality of what, you know, our industry was per COVID. So, you know, to touch on marketing stuff, we didn’t do a ton during that period, because obviously, I hate to say this, but you didn’t really have to, you know, the demand was so high and, and in that. So now going into 2023, we have teamed up with a gentleman by the name of David Pritchard, he owns iPitCrew. And we’re really putting, I guess, all of our eggs in one basket with him and auto lead star. Just because, you know, I felt like I’ve always been very good in marketing. But any more now, this market in the Internet and the way things are being done, and how things are changing, it’s almost impossible to keep up on it feel like it’s changing every day. So

Ilana Shabtay 11:22

possibly keep up with that type of feed. So

Dave Warren 11:27

correct. So that’s what really impresses me with, you know, the AI technology that our elite star has, you know, we’ve been able to use them here the last, you know, we’ve put all of our eggs in their basket, like I said, within the last 60 days, and I’ve seen huge, huge returns on that investment and can’t wait to see what happens going into 2023. But I think that, you know, my forecast for 2023 is that it’s going to be an even stronger use car market. And I know when people, people, when I say that to people, they look at me, like I have three heads. But I think that, you know, the manufacturers are slower, at least our brands are slower to react to what is going on in the marketplace, then maybe what US car dealers are and what I mean by that is, you know, I’m still looking at incentives, or lack of incentives on new vehicles, even though inventory levels are starting to get back to the, to the levels that we once had prior to COVID. And there’s no incentives. Well, with the feds continuing to increase interest rates, and no help sort of speak from the manufacturers, you know, it still comes down to what people can afford, right. And so that’s why I think the US market use car market is going to be strong, again, it’s only 23. Because I just don’t think a lot of people are going to be able to afford with interest rates being higher. You know, obviously, new car prices have continued to climb. You know, we’re in a very large leasing market. And, you know, I’ve got people that are coming out of Grand Cherokee leases that are used to paying 450 a month and now recording them 750 A month, well, you know, it’s just not going to happen. So I think a lot of those people are either gonna buy their leases out, or, which is then is going to hold back, you know, there’s going to be less inventory hitting the market as usual. And then I think what you’re gonna run into is that a lot of people are going to be buying one year old two year old cars, because that’s what they’re going to be able to afford the interest rate. So, I mean, I know we’ve had a huge drop in the used car market here in the last, you know, 90 to 120 days, but I think once we get into 2023 I think you’re gonna see that rebound.

Ilana Shabtay 13:36

Yeah, oh, that’s really interesting. Now going back to what you said about it was kind of a car dealers dream come true, meaning there was nothing that you could do wrong, right? Because the supply was low demand was high people you were selling cars probably before they even hit your lot. Do you feel like the the training or do you feel like your see your staff will kind of be need to be retrained in the sense of like, Okay, we’re back to reality. What does it mean to negotiate? What does it mean that when we no longer have the upper hand? How do you how do you think you’re going to deal with that as a dealer coming back to reality with, you know, a whole new perspective for the sales team?

Dave Warren 14:15

Well, it’s funny that you brought that up. So you know, we had a my last 20 group meeting was in I think I played October, November, and we came back and that was the first meeting I had with my staff. I brought everybody in I said, Hey, listen, this wave is crashed, you know, in my opinion, so you know, the, the luxury that you all have had of somebody walking in and saying, hey, I want the black one. Okay, here. Yeah, exactly. is gone. I said. So now it gets back to, you’re gonna have to turn over every stone until you find any car deal that you possibly can and, you know, you’re gonna have to get back to selling and building value and building trust with the customer. Not just being an order taker, which is pretty much what a lot of us had the luxury of doing. For the past two years, so now it’s back to, you know, what makes us different as a dealership, what makes you different as a salesperson, what makes our product different, and then giving the customer good experience because at the end of the day, nobody really makes a bad product anymore. People just want to buy from people that they like and trust. And I don’t think that will ever change whether you’re selling vacuum cleaners, or you’re selling, you know, automobile. So, yeah,

Ilana Shabtay 15:23

no, I totally agree. I think that, and I tried to talk about this in the podcast a bit, just because I know, a lot of dealers were sitting back, which is fine, you know, but especially for new salespeople come into the industry for the first time and thinking, Oh, this is how we sell cars and automotive in phobia. A nice, you know, slap in the face when when we get back to normal levels of inventory. And then of course, there’s obviously the what happens when we go back to having cars in my lap for too long, a lot, right, etc? What is my strategy going to be for pushing those cars off? My lot? You know, from marketing and sales perspective.

Dave Warren 16:02

Yeah. And I think that’s what we’re doing right now is we’re trying to look at every, every aspect of the business. And what I mean by that is, you know, first, obviously, we’ve got to retrain everybody. So that’s the first and foremost, but we’re even looking at like, vehicles that we would normally wholesale, well, we’re trying to look at a different perspective of that. And when somebody is buying that car, whether it’s at an auction, an online auction, wherever it may be, so why not allow us to be that same person that sells that, and having a different way of doing that, where we explain to the customer, hey, this is a special price, you know, this car is just state inspected? You know, that’s all it is, you know, so you know, you know, but just looking at every app and trying to basically pick every apple that we possibly can off the tree to make sure that we’re successful. Because the problem is, is my biggest fear right now is all of my employees had for the last two years, their best income year ever. And I think that’s a big thing that a lot of us are not talking about is, you know, you’re gonna have quality people want to jump ship, because they’re not making the money that they made over the last two years, even though they’re not contributing the same to the pot, so to speak. So. So what I’m trying to do is get everybody more involved in looking at that big picture as well. So we’re trying to basically, like I said, Look at every, every stone that we possibly can have the opportunities to continue to make that profit.

Ilana Shabtay 17:27

Yeah, that’s smart. And I think other dealers should follow that and make sure that their team is also just well equipped for whatever will come in 2023 Thank you so much. This is super informative. I specifically liked your perspective on use car, because I usually hear the opposite. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens. 23 Three?

Dave Warren 17:47

Yeah, you know, it’s a very volatile market, you know, so we’ll see what happens, but I’m hoping that, you know, we get some type of normalcy, and, you know, we don’t have this, this, this wave going on as much as we’ve had over the last 90 days. But, you know, one thing about car dealers in our industry, you know, we always adapt, and, you know, we always figure it out. So that’s the one thing that I absolutely love about this business, and that, for the most part, everybody’s willing to help out, you know, whether it’s a podcast or a meeting, or whatever it may be, you know, it usually seems like most people in this industry want to see other people succeed. So that’s one beautiful thing about it.

Ilana Shabtay 18:25

Yeah, I agree with that. And I think that the nature of the industry which what we opened up with meaning, you don’t have to necessarily have any kind of education to come into the automotive industry. It’s about hustle motivation, which is really all that matters company you know, good company culture. So that’s what I love about the industry. It seems like that’s what you love about the industry. Thank you so much for sharing with us today. This is inside auto podcast. Sorry you won’t be at nada Dave but hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to meet you another time.

Dave Warren 18:52

Yeah, hopefully soon. And anytime you need me to come on I’d be more than happy to come back up.

Ilana Shabtay 18:56

Yeah, you’re gonna have to come back in a year we’re gonna have to look at your prediction.

Dave Warren 19:00

Yeah, see if I’m no sir Dominus are a big failure.

Ilana Shabtay 19:04

Thank you so much. Thank you.

Outro 19:10

Thanks for listening to InsideAuto Podcast. Check out our other episodes with top entrepreneurs and industry leaders.

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