For this installment of Dealerships in Depth, we spoke with Jay Rosario, Owner, Wesley Chapel Nissan, Tampa, FL.

Jay has been in the business for over 20 years. He has owned Wesley Chapel Nissan for the past 12 years. The award-winning dealership, located at 28519 SR 54 in Wesley Chapel in north Tampa, tallied $93 million in revenue in 2016, ranking 52nd of the nation’s 1,200 Nissan dealerships in sales. It is the only dealership in Florida to receive the prestigious Motor Trend Certified Dealer designation. Jay is honored to serve as Vice Chairman of the National Association of Minority Automobile Dealers (NAMAD).

Q. What do you think is your greatest strength as an auto dealer?

A. Over the years I would have to say that my greatest strength is the connections I have been able to make with my employees and the community. Ultimately the most important thing to me is the impact I make on the lives of the people around me. In order to make positive impact, you have to engage in their lives, and engage in what interests them and in what motivates them, and I pride myself on my ability to connect with people on those levels.

Q. What do you feel is your most significant accomplishment as an auto dealership/ auto industry professional?

A. We’re proud to have been among the elite few to have been nominated for the Time Magazine Quality Dealer Award, and personally, I was the first Hispanic entrepreneur to receive Black Enterprise magazine’s Rising Star Award. But, most significantly, back in July, we just became one of the top 50 Nissan dealers in the country. Now, those are some significant industry recognitions, and we are proud of them, just as I am thrilled every time we can help someone get into a vehicle when they thought they couldn’t. But one of the things that really stands out for me as an accomplishment, is we recently held a fundraiser, a “Casino Night” for a local family who had experienced a tragedy, and we raised over $20,000 for them. Everybody had a good time, the community came together, it’s those moments, not the awards so much, that make it worthwhile, to be able to give back and help people like that.

Q. What distinguishes your dealership from other dealerships?

A. What makes us unique, I think is that kind of community involvement, like that fundraiser. I know everyone talks about community involvement, but for us it really is a culture, because it’s not just about the dealership, it’s about individual employees immersing themselves, engaging in projects throughout the community. In fact many times it doesn’t even start out on the dealership level, it’s an individual employee who has gone out, found a need, does what they can to help, and then comes back and says, “how can we as a dealership do more.” So, every year we get involved in all sorts of things, many of which are under the radar, because they’re not at all about selling cars, but just about helping out, and giving back.

Q. What are the greatest challenges facing auto dealers right now, and how is your company responding to those challenges?

A. I think the biggest challenge facing us right now is how to keep that one-to-one connection with our customers. In this world of technology, that is the biggest challenge. That, and also, relooking at our sales process. Historically we hold the tent events, the big sales, the meet and greats, the demo. Ultimately, those things benefits us, but not necessarily the customer. So we a currently looking at a more “customer-centric” sales process, that will give customers more control, more of a process that does business the way that they want, and not necessarily the way that we want. For example, a lot of a customers prefer to engage with us online, so we will do the bulk of the transaction online, and the only time we actually meet the customer is when they take delivery! So, I think that now, and moving forward, that is going to be the biggest thing we have to focus on.

Q. How long have you been a client with MBAF, how has that relationship helped you face those challenges, and otherwise helped you to reach your goals as a dealer?

A. Our relationship with MBAF has been an intricate part of our success. It simply has been a great partnership. You’re not just a CPA firm that shows up at year end, calculates my taxes and leaves till next year. It’s an ongoing and engaging relationship, where I can talk with Ira at least once a month, sometimes a couple of times a month, just to discuss trends, see what’s happening on percentages, or what-have-you. In fact, I just recently made it so my general managers can have access and open dialogs with Ira, to see how they can cut expenses or find out more about best practices, and the things that he’s learned. That’s just one aspect, then it goes even further, because I get to speak with him on growth and expansion. He’s involved in my refinancing, and he is always available to ask the right questions about what we did, and why we did this, that or the other. So basically, it’s a relationship; he is committed to our growth and success, and not just about putting the numbers together and doing or financial statements come reporting time. It is a professional engagement we can count on throughout the entire year.

Q. Where would you like, or expect your dealership to be 5, 10 years from now?

A. The future for us is focused on expanding. We are working with Ira in that direction. We hope to open a second dealership in Tampa by the summer of 2018. We have a very deep bench, and I just had several managers graduate this past year from the NADA dealer academy, so we are poised for growth, and looking for any and all opportunities that are out there, that can help us do better to expand and grow.