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Why Individualized Attention for Every Vehicle is Critical for Dealership Success with Jacci Grillo Noto

  • March 6, 2024
23 min read
Why Individualized Attention for Every Vehicle is Critical for Dealership Success with Jacci Grillo Noto

Ilana Shabtay
VP of Marketing, Fullpath

Jacci Grillo Noto
Director of Sales Northeast, Kelley Blue Book/Cox Automotive

As Director of Sales Northeast for Kelley Blue Book/Cox Automotive, Jacci Grillo Noto is responsible for coaching a team of Regional Sales Managers who serve Kelley Blue Book customers spanning thirteen states. In this role, she collaborates with key Cox Automotive business unit partners to help dealers acquire inventory and achieve their automotive industry growth goals. Before joining Cox Automotive, Jacci served in roles at Walt Disney Corporation and Entercom New England.  Jacci is former co-owner of Noto Garlic Farm with her son, Ethan, currently a co-owner Noto Apartment Properties and is a part shared owner/investor in Hudson Valley Distillers with husband, Kris. 

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

  • The split decisions dealers are facing on inventory management 
  • Why it is critical to treat every used vehicle individually in the current market
  • How consumer awareness and savviness is impacting the sales process
  • Why efficiency and customization are crucial in inventory management
  • How dealers can leverage technology and data to optimize their strategies.
  • Jacci’s predictions for the next year in automotive

In this episode…

Inventory management in 2024 is an entirely different animal. 

The reality is, in 2024, there are so many things impacting the automotive industry – from politics, to interest rates, to increased customer savviness, and the deteriorating state of used vehicles, that it has become critical for dealers to treat every vehicle brought onto the lot with individualized attention in order to get the most out the the best ROI rather than just trying to get inventory moved quickly. 

In this episode of the Inside Auto Podcast, Ilana Shabtay speaks with Jacci Grillo Noto, Director of Sales Kelley Blue Book ICO & vAuto at Cox Automotive Inc., about the shifting automotive market and the challenges dealers are facing in their inventory management, and why customization, increasing efficiency, and maximizing ROI should be the central focus for dealers looking to thrive in this period of economic uncertainty. 

 Resources Mentioned: 

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Fullpath (formerly AutoLeadStar).

 Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform (CDXP).

Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first-party data into lifelong customers by unifying siloed data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences.

To learn more, visit

Episode Transcript:

Ilana Shabtay (00:01.682)

Ilana Shabtay here, host of Inside Auto 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 Fullpath is the automotive industry’s leading customer data and experience platform, CDXP. Fullpath enables dealers to turn their first party data into lifelong customers by unifying silo data sources and leveraging that data to create exceptional, hyper-personalized customer experiences.

To learn more, visit Today’s guest is a long-term automotive friend, Jackie Grillo Noto. How are you?

Jacci Grillo Noto (00:42.231)

I’m wonderful. It’s so good to see you.

Ilana Shabtay (00:44.614)

Yes, you too. I missed you at NADA. I know there was a lot of FOMO. Happy to talk a little bit about it, but I hope I get to see you at the next industry event.

Jacci Grillo Noto (00:47.926)

Missed you as well, missed everyone.

Jacci Grillo Noto (00:57.038)

Absolutely, I’ll be there.

Ilana Shabtay (00:59.246)

Yes, sounds great. And before we jump in today’s conversation, I will quickly introduce Jackie. Jackie is the Director of Sales Northeast Inventory Management Services for two different teams at Cox Automotive, that correct? V-Auto and KBB ICO. So two different teams doing a lot of stuff. I can’t wait to get into it. Jackie joined Cox Automotive in 2012 as an auto trader account executive and then was quickly promoted and promoted again and promoted again and again and again because she just, she just rocks at what she does. And before joining Cox Automotive, Jackie served in roles at Walt Disney, Entercom, just was doing amazing things. She’s also a former co-owner of Noto Garlic Farm, which is pretty cool with her son, and currently co-owner of Noto Apartment Properties, which is really cool, and part-shared owner, investor in Hudson Valley Distillers. So there’s a lot of things that you’re doing and you’re just kicking ass at life, in work, in auto. Thanks for joining us.

Jacci Grillo Noto (01:59.478)

Thank you. It’s so nice to be here and to talk to you. And I love just talking about more so the industry than about me. So thank you for that.

Ilana Shabtay (02:08.318)

Well, we’ll make it, we’ll do it both. We’ll do it, we’ll definitely do it both. But I had to give your, I mean, do your intro justice. I mean, come on.

Jacci Grillo Noto (02:13.71)

Thank you.

Ilana Shabtay (02:16.294)

So let’s talk a little bit about, I mean you’ve been at Cox for a really long time, you’ve probably seen tremendous change in the industry and at Cox Automotive. Tell us a little bit about what’s been going on specifically with your teams, where is innovation at this year, whether it’s V-Auto, KBB, both, I’d love to hear a little bit about that.

Jacci Grillo Noto (02:38.198)

So probably what a lot of people don’t know about me is that I love studying economics and the marketplace and globally how everything kind of impacts our industry. I love focusing on automotive, but I have a diverse background and I did multi marketing for different companies and worked in finance for a while. So I just love bubbling up the view to 30,000 feet and then honing back in on our.

domestic auto industry. So I love being here to talk about the innovation because Ascot’s Automotive.

What we can do is see a ton of data touch points. We have a ton of great client partners that give us feedback constantly about what they’re looking to do. And what I’m noticing right now, and what we’re working on innovation-wise, is we have a very, usually you can generalize and say, this is what’s going on in the marketplace and this is how it’s impacting most dealers. And maybe it’s franchise versus independence, but it’s generally kind of the same situation

What I’m seeing working in these inventory management solutions properties for one of the first times in my 22-year career here and really honing in on auto, I am shocked to see that it’s kind of a split.

Decision from dealers whether they want to buy more inventory and buy it right and be aggressive They need inventory and they’re turning inventory or they say wait right now. I have enough inventory I need to really manage the inventory I have and get out of the cars And I feel stuck in or I feel like I’m not gonna make a profit in and I need a roadmap So my day today has been kind of all over the place in trying to really customize

Jacci Grillo Noto (04:32.976)

the theme of innovation this year is customizing solutions. There’s no rules. There’s no way that it worked for you before. You’ve been doing this for 50 years. A lot of my dealers, you know, I heard a dealer last week say, I’m, you know, they basically dropped their entire ego and admitted that they know nothing about their inventory right now and they need to make changes. And it was a wow moment because they said it in front of all of their group leaders at their dealerships. Was completely a humble approach and somebody who’s investing in their employees and their success. And I’m not saying that.

Ilana Shabtay (05:04.458)

That’s amazing, first of all. I’m very happy to hear that. Yeah. Yes.

Jacci Grillo Noto (05:16.65)

Nobody knows what they’re doing. It’s just there’s so many things impacting the industry right now that have to do with automotive, that don’t have to do with automotive. We see real estate markets slowly crashing right now just because of the weirdness of so much inventory overpriced. All of these.

Ilana Shabtay (05:33.871)

and interest rates. Yeah.

Jacci Grillo Noto (05:35.342)

Yeah, interest rates and the upcoming political landscape and the election year and what’s going to change. We have so many things that happened to us out of our control through COVID.

Ilana Shabtay (05:39.637)


Jacci Grillo Noto (05:47.926)

And a lot of things are impacting us now. And I think the biggest thing impacting inventory is the situation where everything was so cyclical in certain markets that were lease markets. So in lease markets, it was two to three years and you had your used inventory and there was this nice flow and you kind of knew and you could price things on a scale of predictability. And now you have to treat.

vehicles, used vehicles like they are your children. Everyone’s individual. They can’t have the same care. You have to really value them all the same but apply pricing and inventory strategies to each car differently. And those are some of the innovations that we’re trying to apply at Vauto and KBB-ICL. How can dealers acquire cars, acquire quality cars, because I’m getting a lot of concerns that

every inventory acquisition tool, whether it’s ours or somebody else’s, oh, the quality is so much worse. This is not the quality of the leads that are worse. We’re doing the same things. It’s the quality of the used car market. People are holding on. Yeah. But now, I’m going to tear up and he’s like in shock. And I’m like, no, this is…

Ilana Shabtay (06:52.498)

It’s the quality of the cars.

Ilana Shabtay (06:57.194)

But you know what? We knew that was gonna happen. Exactly. That was predicted. Yeah.

Jacci Grillo Noto (07:04.45)

This is what would happen after the chip shortage, after new car shortage, and now new cars are back with us. And now we have used cars that people are hanging on to. Like if you leased a car right before or during COVID, right?

Ilana Shabtay (07:18.406)

Right. You bought that lease and extended because you could not get into a new lease. Either it wasn’t available or the monthly payment wasn’t worth it, right?

Jacci Grillo Noto (07:32.142)

Absolutely. And another thing that we’re seeing that’s a huge consumer.

feeling, I don’t want to call it an epidemic, but it kind of is. For the first time ever, people are saying, wow, I leased this car, but I didn’t put a lot of miles on it. And now I have all of this valuation tools at my disposal. The savvy consumers are going online and researching the value of their car coming off lease with those miles on it and the great condition that they’re in from not seeing the road as much. And they’re saying, and I’m guilty of this too, but they’re saying, I’m

Ilana Shabtay (08:05.666)

Of course, everyone wants the, you know, the most out of their…yeah.

Jacci Grillo Noto (08:07.926)

Right, I want to buy this car out. I don’t want a new lease or a new, I know that this car is worth $10,000 more than my initial paperwork says I have to buy it for. They’re savvy, they have a lot of that information and sometimes dealers are coming forward and offering them and stepping up on the, just like they would on a trade on an off lease and sometimes dealers are insulting their intelligence and saying, you know what, I’ll give you $4,000 for that car. And people are like,

I have the paperwork, it’s worth 10. You know? So there’s a lot of broken trust, there’s a lot of mishandling of values. And what we want to do is we can’t really control those parts of it, right? The way the consumer is going to act, how much research they’re going to do. But what I like that we can do is we can kind of use connected solutions through V-Auto. We can talk about.

Ilana Shabtay (08:41.464)


Jacci Grillo Noto (09:03.694)

how merchandising and acquisition and pricing cars the right way are through our tools are, and there are many companies that offer these tools, not a commercial for V-Auto and for KBB-ICO, but you should be using some kind of software to be able to…

treat those cars individually and say, how long should I keep them for? What should I sell them for? And what we’re finding out through, you know, I have great resources. I have Dale Pollock. I interact with something to do with him every week. I have Jonathan Smoke, our chief economist, and a huge special thank you I want to give before I forget or we run out of time to product consultant Ramsey Habib, who went over kind of some of the exciting points that he took away from NADA with me while I was prepping

Ilana Shabtay (09:34.446)

I mean, yeah, it’s amazing. Yeah.

Jacci Grillo Noto (09:53.072)

interview, but I really truly believe that there’s a lot of misnomers out there right now and we’re kind of scrambling in the industry to figure out how to track and adjust.

And we need to be doing that based on what’s happening right now in the moment. And if you change your strategy down the road, don’t be scared to change your strategy down the road. But right now we need to treat individual cars differently. Things like profit time GPS that have come into the marketplace where you can actually categorize your cars with different metal buckets and figure out what should move or what we’re leaving money on the table with. Let’s make up for some of the clunkers with.

Ilana Shabtay (10:06.624)


Jacci Grillo Noto (10:35.15)

creating the gold cars and platinum cars, like what there were. Yeah, you get an exciting piece of inventory in the marketplace and every salesperson wants to go sell it. Wait, you don’t have to let that go out the door, you know, for a lower price. You know, you can actually hold onto that car and get what it’s worth. 

Ilana Shabtay (10:54.034)

Yeah, and it’s actually interesting you’re mentioning that because we just put out some data or Fullpath just put out some data in partnership with Car Dealership Guy about the percentage below MSRP by OEM and almost every single OEM was under MSRP. So I think what you’re saying is so accurate, meaning, okay, get the clunkers out for whatever price but then make sure you combat that with a proper price on what’s real gold in your inventory. And then just to go back to something you said earlier, which I think is really important, I want to flesh it out a bit more.

I love when my guests come up with, like, this grand statement and then we go with it. No, but it’s so…it’s true. I mean, I heard… Yeah, it’s great. I interviewed April Simmons, and this episode will come out soon, at NADA, and she said it’s going to be the year of efficiencies. So I love it. I think it’s great. Yeah. Yes. Brilliant.

Jacci Grillo Noto (11:30.883)

That could be my motto for the year.

Jacci Grillo Noto (11:41.609)

She’s absolutely one of my favorite people in the industry to use as a dealership resource, and I love her so much. And it’s funny because every dealership should have two goals, that is to increase efficiency and to increase ROI or maximize their ROI. No matter who you talk to, it doesn’t matter if they do or don’t have service, things like that, they actually should have those two goals in mind, increase efficiency and maximize ROI. Bottom line, right? Like at the end of the day.

Ilana Shabtay (12:12.306)

Yes. Bottom line. And I’m all about…yeah, sorry, go ahead.

Jacci Grillo Noto (12:16.562)

No, I was just gonna say through every department too. So I think that’s one of the things people are sometimes nervous to talk to salespeople because they’re not enough of a consultant. I want to recognize all the importance of how all the departments tie in together. And I think service and fixed ops are key. And it’s such a huge part of a dealership’s P&L and being successful.

Ilana Shabtay (12:38.55)


Jacci Grillo Noto (12:41.718)

But I don’t think that everybody recognizes the importance of everything and how it works together. And I truly feel like sales should depend a lot on the service department for acquisition of inventory and mining quality inventory. So you’re buying cars and you’re like, oh, the source isn’t that great or leads aren’t great. Guess what? That’s what’s out there in the marketplace. If you’re working with a company like KBB-ICO, customers come to us to value their cars and give us the data for the trade-ins that we then partner with dealers on. So this is a snapshot of the true what’s out there and available in the marketplace, marketing to different customer base or low end vehicles for trade, this is what’s out there. So if you can really incentivize your service writers to make appointments with your acquisition folks to buy these cars, I think a lot of times the misstep is they pay on acquisition, pay on the show, pay on the appointment, pay on the show, pay on different bonus structures, right? Because those people are so overworked in that department, stretched thin, hard workers show up every day, clock in, clock out, right? You need to make it worth their effort, but that’s where your gold lies and your platinum cars lie in your dealership because you can pick who you want to market to. And then take your acquisition tools like a Kelley Blue Book ICO and actually use the added value suites. We have a whole suite for service drive that a lot of dealers don’t even activate, even when they’re asked if they want to activate.

Ilana Shabtay (14:23.87)

That’s through KBB, ICO.

Jacci Grillo Noto (14:26.35)

KBB ICO even on the lowest level of KBB ICO, which is under a thousand dollars a month. So not the grand buying centers that you hear of that get external leads, but even the internal trade products. You get a whole suite of products for the acquisition like hang tags, QR codes, email blasts that you can just send to your database of cars you want to buy that we create the templates for. There’s all these different tools and they come with trainers and live people to help you. And a lot of dealers can’t find the time to just program what they want to do or give us direction and say, let’s activate this. Show me what you got. You know, so. All right. Yeah, custom.

Ilana Shabtay (15:03.926)

See, and that’s where the customization comes in again, which I love that this is the theme. No, but it really does make sense. But the reason why I love that is because there’s so much technology out there, so many softwares, and I think at the end of the day, dealers need to get their data in place, understand their people and their processes, and then just customize based on that. And like you said, you can change it, but once you have those things in line, it’s easy to switch strategy because you have a hold on your baseline, and then you can customize

based on what your strategy is. And I wouldn’t necessarily customize every single week or every single month because you wanna kind of see a strategy play its course, but I love that. So efficiencies and customizations, data, I’m gonna have to do a roundup episode at the end for all the themes of 2024.

Jacci Grillo Noto (15:50.09)

I think I’m gonna write an extensive article on this because when I was kind of putting my thoughts down on paper, I came up with like six pages of notes for this few minute interview. And I just love talking about it gets my juices flowing. And I love to talk about my brain is just cranking because there’s so many things that are out there to meet the needs. Did you know that dealers spend an average of $4 billion a year on recon in the areas of tires and brakes for billion dollars in recon on tires and brakes So think about products like I recon that can help you with that process efficiency and then Compiled with some of the new vehicle intelligence 360 marketing packages Yeah, when we that was like the big thing at NADA was talking about this, you know vi 360

Ilana Shabtay (16:21.906)

I did not know that, but that is…That is unbelievable.

Jacci Grillo Noto (16:46.738)

Yeah, and showcasing that. So if you’re spending that much money on it, it’s important to safety, it’s important to consumers, it’s important to what somebody is looking for when they come to the dealership, passing inspection, basic things like that, but customers are actually looking for that. And if you’re not showcasing that for pennies or dollars per car, you’re missing out. So a software like the VI360 or similar can take in all those

Ilana Shabtay (17:13.855)


Jacci Grillo Noto (17:15.69)

recon edits and put them on your marketing. Like this car has new tires and new brakes. Doesn’t that make you feel great when you need to differentiate yourself from another similar car in the marketplace? I mean, I spent a lot of time researching. I was just booking a trip and I was like, it took me, I wanted to cry booking somewhere to stay. You know what I mean? So if you’re looking for little things that are the differentiator there, cause I couldn’t figure it out. I couldn’t decide.

Ilana Shabtay (17:42.098)

It’s so overwhelming. Yeah.

Jacci Grillo Noto (17:43.086)

there was, you know, whittle it down to four, whittle it down to two, and just put it away. If you can have standout items and they populate on their own and you don’t have to do the manual work on it, that is on the customization.

Ilana Shabtay (17:56.746)

Well, there’s the efficiency. And the customization, right? Because it’s according to what you want to do or what your strategy is, 100%. Yeah. Yes. Right.

Jacci Grillo Noto (18:04.762)

Right. And what the car has that should be shown. That’s important to customers. So, let’s just, bye.

Ilana Shabtay (18:10.81)

Right. Okay. Well, I mean, you’re just a wealth of knowledge. I love talking to you. And I love how every sentence you say says, another dealer said to me, another dealer said to me, like, it’s just, it’s so great to hear stories from the dealers. It’s wonderful. But before we sign off here, I’d love to know very, very quickly predictions for the next 12 to 18 months. So we’re talking about in a while, but what are your predictions? Where do you think the market’s going? General predictions. I do like to sign off with this because it’s always interesting to hear different perspectives.

Jacci Grillo Noto (18:49.378)

So I have a couple of predictions, and my prediction is that we’re gonna be in this uncomfortable, unpredictable state of change for another 12 to 24 months. And the reason I can’t really predict what’s gonna happen is because of elections, what’s gonna happen with candidates prior to elections, what are they gonna change if they are in power, what’s gonna happen after elections, and what are those people gonna change, and how quickly can that be enacted, or will they get shot down on their ideas? So that’s really a hard…um line to toe because of the timing but I will say if you’re not engaging in technology like the vi360 like AI let’s talk about this for a minute we are moving so fast in the space of AI

Right? We now have text to video AI that’s come out. I mean, there are companies like Scora, less that are really ahead of target development right now. And like doing everything they can to keep up with execution and can’t even really circulated as they need to and build it and implement it. It’s just, I mean,

Ilana Shabtay (19:46.746)

Oh yeah. Service call centers. Yep. Yes.

Jacci Grillo Noto (20:06.154)

If you’re not already in that space, you need to be because things are moving that way quickly and it’s gonna be a huge part of the next 12 to 24 months. It’s already a huge part of our lives, but it seems so overwhelmingly big that some people pay attention to it, some don’t. I’m in the middle.

I pay attention to it when I have time, I use it a little bit, I play with it, you know, but I’m not an expert in it because I have all this other stuff going on. But I would say that this is the time for the next year or two for us to really understand the things that we may be using right now, but that we’re definitely going to have to use. I believe we’re going to have, obviously, the real estate market’s really going to impact inventory, the federal rates got to change, we’ve got to have a little bit of, you know, the economic cycle is always this. It’s always peaks, valleys, peaks, valleys, doesn’t matter. Every single, every single bottom is followed by a boom throughout the course of history. I don’t think that’s going to change.

We were not able to label this a recession because people are still spending. We couldn’t check that final box. But things like everybody’s at the point where something’s gotta give. So I think we’re gonna see a lot of change. I think new car is back, baby. You know, like new car is here. We’re going to get back to that regular two to three year lease cycle. It’s all going to come, but for the next couple of years, we really gotta get smart about what inventory, how we’re buying it.

Do your solutions have an exit strategy? Is there an upside to this? Is there a way you can get out of any inventory you buy that you can’t retail? I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next 12 to 24 months, but I can predict that what I just said will happen some point throughout that, and we’ve got to customize through it. That’s probably the most vague prediction I’ve ever given. I love giving predictions, and people follow my predictions and go, hey, wait a minute. That really happened. But this is timing wise, there’s so many factors. And we didn’t even talk about, you know, alternative fuel vehicles and things like that. That’s a whole nother. Yeah.

Ilana Shabtay (22:18.014)

Right, we didn’t even get into that. All right, well, we’ll have to talk after the elections, get some more insight from you. This was fantastic. Thank you so much for joining Inside Auto. Jackie, it’s great to catch up. Yes, I did too. Thank you again. And if you like this episode to our listeners, you can find us on all your favorite streaming channels, Apple, Spotify, you name it. So Jackie, thank you again.

Jacci Grillo Noto (22:26.254)

Thank you so much! I had so much fun! 

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