Jason Villa, 35
General manager, Larry H. Miller Volkswagen
Achievement: Set five monthly net-profit records for his VW store and maintained high customer-satisfaction scores in 2016
For Jason Villa, the timing of his promotion to general manager of a Volkswagen dealership couldn't have been worse — or better.
Villa took his new post at the beginning of 2016, just as VW's diesel emissions scandal was heating up. But the timing of his advancement enabled him to showcase leadership skills that yielded a stellar year for the store despite the crisis.
As general manager, Villa had to adjust quickly to keep up with the influx of cars and concerned customers and maintain a consistent level of sales.
He revised the compensation plans and duties of two top salespeople, who became full-time "TDI ambassadors," parking vehicles, securing keys and filing claims for more than 700 vehicles in 18 months. They also became the dealership's experts on helping customers through the crisis, he said.
At the same time, Villa implemented processes to handle "pressing inquiries" and trained employees on how to interact with customers at every touch point. Villa said he kept the management team intact and kept various department leaders throughout the crisis.
"It was a difficult time to retain [employees and customers] and a lot of people didn't want to deal with it," Villa said. "We overcame that and we kept our core staff through the entire ordeal."
Villa attributes solid employee retention to the training he developed.
He is very involved, personally training and holding orientations for sales staffers.
One of his proudest achievements last year was maintaining above-average customer-satisfaction scores in sales every month, averaging 99.1 percent. The score put the dealership in the top 25 percent nationwide for VW customer satisfaction, he said, despite the scandal.
Villa's store generally ranks No. 3 among VW stores in the Denver market with just more than 100 monthly combined new- and used-vehicle sales. Despite an overall dip in U.S. VW sales last year, Villa said his store maintained a flat year of sales and set five monthly store records for net profit.
In May, his store set a sales record of 124 new VWs, Villa said, thanks to "consistency and good, steady processes and people. The team here is outstanding."
Stephanie Hernandez McGavin