Dean Cafiero - President and CEO of Car Vision

One strategy that has helped grow our business has been clearly defining my vision to the team. This has saved us a tremendous amount of time, money and energy.

Dean Cafiero is the President and CEO of Car Vision, a powerhouse pre-owned car dealership which has put over 50,000 cars and trucks on the street in the last 20 years. With his innovative online and physical dealership operations, Car Vision enjoys one of the best customer satisfaction and service records in the industry. Starting from one-on-one transactions selling vehicles he purchased at auction and refurbished, Dean’s sprawling automotive realm includes a half dozen showrooms, service and inventory prep and storage facilities across the Delaware Valley.

Where did the idea for Car Vision come from?

I started Car Vision in 1997 when I was 27 years old in Norristown on a small lot that held just 26 cars. At the beginning, I encountered hardship selling cars until I began advertising on Autotrader.com (at the time I was the one of the first dealers advertising on this site). Soon I added Cars.com.

In the beginning, I was running a “one man show” at the dealership such that I would buy the cars, truck them back to the dealership, fix and clean them. Then I would take pictures, list, write descriptions of the cars online and sell them myself. Car Vision was one of the first dealerships to have a picture booth to market cars

I remember spending hours every night uploading my pictures and descriptions. Within a few months, I was selling 80 cars per month (with only 40-50 units in inventory). It’s safe to say that I was definitely leveraging the internet’s capacities in comparison to other/new car dealers, which were resistant to the internet, as I was selling more cars then I could have ever dreamed.

Within a few years, we were selling close to 2,400 cars per year with very little overhead, while keeping our customers satisfied. Moreover, I learned that people generally did not enjoy/know how to negotiate and so if you gave them a fair price up front they would be more open to buying our cars.

We used to bring our dogs — “Bear” and “Rags” to the dealership as well as took care of several stray cats. Our guests would often times come to the lot asking for the dogs by name. We had an invisible fence that ran around the property and the dogs had free reign. Our guests loved the dogs.

Several years later, we donated close to $80,000 to the Norristown Elmwood Park Zoo when we discovered that they were seeking funds to fix and construct the Howler Monkey Exhibition as well as the Jaguar Exhibition. We believe it is important for local businesses to support the local community.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As my company is very dynamic, no two days are alike. Furthermore, I make my days productive by checking items off my to-do-list.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I bring my ideas to life by delegating to my talented team to execute our strategic vision.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Social media. I am eager to explore how social media can further enhance my business.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I am always ahead of the competition when it comes to technology and am constantly looking for the next ‘big idea’. I surround myself with the smartest people who also know how to get things done. I give direction and freedom for my team to execute.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

When I was 13, I had a job sweeping at the local library 2 hours a day, twice a week. I was paid minimum wage, I think it was just $3.33 per hour. I remember thinking that no matter how hard I work I will only make $3.33 an hour. Sometimes I would work really hard and have my job done in just 30 minutes, this frustrated me. I learned to always charge by the job and not by the hour. By doing this I made substantially more money and accomplished more for the people who hired me.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start again, I would have started this business earlier… not at age 27.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Training, training, training.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

One strategy that has helped grow our business has been clearly defining my vision to the team. This has saved us a tremendous amount of time, money and energy.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Unfortunately, I do not have one. Keeping up with one business keeps me plenty busy!

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Going to dinner with my father. I always enjoy his company; he is such an inspiring person in terms of what he’s achieved in his career.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

It’s all the same to me, I use Apple and Android. There isn’t something specific that I love about them, but I can’t imagine how we ever lived without our digital devices.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It reminds us that by focusing on your dreams we can make them a reality.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My father is the person that has inspired me the most. My father is a first-generation Italian. As a teenager, he worked for my Grandfather who was a home builder in New York. After school, he worked on the construction sites and at night he did the bookkeeping for my grandfathers’ business. He graduated from a Jesuit high school and then commuted to Fordham University and Colombia Law (all while he was still in charge of the accounting and bookkeeping for my grandfathers’ business. His first job was working for the New York attorney general’s office under Robert Kennedy. My father eventually became a commercial real-estate developer. My father inspired me as a hard-working entrepreneur, risk-taker and successful businessman.

Connect:

http://www.carvision.com/
CarVision on Twitter: @carvisionauto
CarVision on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/carvision/
CarVision on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company-beta/10908144/
CarVision on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carvisionauto/