Auto retailing thrives on new. New vehicles. New marketing methods and advertising campaigns. And new blood. Meet the men and women who make up the fourth annual Automotive News listing of 40 Under 40 Retail: 40 up-and-comers who already are making their mark in dealerships. These individuals are applying the lessons of the past with the techniques of today to carry vehicle retailing into the future. And they're delivering astounding results.
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|POSITION:||Executive manager, Action Auto Group of Flemington, N.J.|
Breanna Datello's first form of payment for dealership work? Candy.
"I used to memorize Ford parts numbers for Tootsie Rolls," said Datello. At age 3, she started visiting her dad on Take Our Daughters to Work Day at the dealership where he was a parts manager.
The work is tougher now, and the rewards better.
Datello is executive manager of Action Auto Group of Flemington, N.J., a group her father, Leonard Datello, started. She oversees three of the group's four franchises and became a partner in the Chevrolet store last fall.
But Datello wasn't just handed the big job. She had to prove herself, working her way up from her start as a service receptionist.
Datello, who has a finance degree, took a service adviser job right out of college at Action's Hyundai store. Her dream job of financial analyst seemed out of reach after the economy crashed in 2008. But she soon discovered a knack for the service side of the business.
In October 2012, more than two years into her stint as service adviser, her father told her the current service manager wasn't working out and she would take over -- the very next morning. "It was sink or swim," Datello recalled.
It was rocky at first. Several technicians and advisers left -- some didn't want to work for a woman, some didn't want to work for a 23-year-old, she said. The service department lost money the first couple of months.
"I had a really difficult time," Datello said. Her father "was a little rough on me. He gave me the warning that it can't continue like this."
Datello replaced those who left, hiring younger people with more focus on customer service. She worked 13-hour days. "I repaired vehicles, wrote service, answered phones, cleaned toilets, parked cars," she said. "I did everything."
By April 2013, the department posted its best numbers ever. Net profit ultimately rose 25 percent during her first year at the helm, and business doubled during her two-and-a-half-year stint, she said.
Datello is going through the National Automobile Dealers Association's Dealer Academy and is a trustee with the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. "One day I plan to be dealer principal of my own store," Datello said. "I want to make sure my parents are proud of me."