The top-selling Audi dealer in the United States is 23 years old — and he has been running the business since he was 19.
His name is Brett David, a wunderkind who took over Prestige Imports of Miami in 2007 after a tragedy.
David inherited the business when his father and automotive mentor, Irv David, died unexpectedly of a fourth heart attack at age 56.
He almost didn’t get the chance. Some people around him thought he was too young for the responsibility.
And in a letter penned just six months before his death, Irv David instructed Brett to sell the dealership because of the strain it would cause. The letter was delivered to Brett after his father’s death.
“My father said it was the stress of the business that had killed him,” said Brett, who will be 24 next month. “He wanted me to sell the dealership.”
That was one wish Brett said he couldn’t honor. Given his concern for employees, his vision for the store and a streak of rebelliousness that manifested itself early in life, Brett David had to give it a go.
In 2010, Prestige Audi sold 1,610 new cars and was recognized as the national leader in sales volume.
“One part of it is that I would be conquering something that took my father’s life,” said David, who also operates Lamborghini Miami on the site.
In his first full year in charge of Prestige Imports, Audi sales jumped from 500 new cars in 2006 to 2,000 new cars in 2007, David said. It was at that point that the store became Audi’s top-selling new-car dealership in the United States.
The key to growth was an emphasis on service, creative marketing — including the hand-painting of a Lamborghini with a Sharpie pen — and new bonus incentives stressing customer satisfaction, David said.
He said his father was old school, focusing on immediate sale and profit. “I believe service is what sells the second car. We set up a structure to reflect that.”
David said he pegged bonuses to dealership scores on customer satisfaction and service satisfaction instead of on sales growth and gross. He knew from working at the dealership that customers would sometimes complain about cars with blemishes or other issues.
That was going to change. In one of his first acts as CEO, David called an all-employee meeting and told them he wanted them all to stay, but they had to buy into his vision. Vendors to the dealer received a similar message a few days later.
David’s youthful exuberance led to a marketing coup. He shocked some Lamborghini and exotic-car enthusiasts by commissioning a South Florida graffiti artist to paint a pearl white $255,000 Lamborghini Gallardo with a Sharpie pen.
The Sharpie Lamborghini went viral on the Internet and made famous David’s personal ride around Miami.