"The two primary components to do that," he said, were "build a great culture" and "technology."
So in 2009, DGDG hired a videographer to shoot customer testimonials and other footage for YouTube and to email to customers. The videos helped build business and define DGDG's brand so much that today, DGDG is one of the few privately held groups to have its own in-house technology and marketing team.
Dubbed eSuite, the team has 25 people who generate original video content for DGDG TV, the group's YouTube address where consumers will find thousands of videos of testimonials, vehicle walkarounds, dealer events and footage shot from one of the group's three drones.
In 2009, DGDG had five dealerships and sold about 5,500 new and used vehicles a year. Now it has 16 dealerships and sells 33,000 vehicles annually. Unique visitors to DGDG.com have doubled to more than 2.2 million per year. In 2017, its online videos had about 3 million views. In part because acquisitions and a soaring auto market helped, Del Grande stops short of crediting its technology strategy solely for its success.
"It's a tricky road to say, 'If you spend money on video, you're going to get this lift,' " Del Grande told Automotive News. "For us, it's a very comprehensive strategy that works. We know that video has a relevant place in the compilation of our success because we can see that 3 million people viewed our videos. That's a crazy number, but it can create some relevance."
The video strategy was born in mid-2008 when Del Grande and his leadership team were brainstorming ways to reach customers more efficiently. They knew technology was the key.
"When Shaun and I were dreaming this up, [technology] was the one area that we knew the general public would consume in different ways," said COO Jeremy Beaver. "Video was the future for the next-gen buyers, sellers and people servicing their cars. Video would be the driver."
So in late 2009, DGDG hired Matt De La Rosa to be a one-man video band. De La Rosa had a passion for video and a family history in the car business, making him a perfect fit, Beaver said.
"It was at a moment when people were taking selfies and Shaun felt if you're going to create video, make it world class," said Beaver. "So that was when Matt was brought on."
DGDG's slogan is "Be Happy." So De La Rosa shot 30- to 40-second videos of customers buying cars, shaking hands with staff and raving about their experiences.
"We want to find happy car buyers," Del Grande said. "So every day we ran from dealership to dealership to capture that. Our primary driver for a year or two was customer testimonials. We flooded the market with them."
Since its inception, the team has produced about 4,000 customer testimonials on DGDG TV and about 1,000 other videos.