You can sell a $ 200,000-plus Lamborghini by spending very little on advertising and mostly using social media.
Ask Brett David, CEO of Prestige Imports Lamborghini in North Miami Beach, Fla. Nine years ago, David, now 28, inherited the dealership that his late father, Irv, started in 1977.
David primarily uses social media such as Instagram to promote the muscular, aggressive-looking exotic cars he sells. He estimates this free form of marketing has generated between $ 5 million and $ 10 million in sales of new Lamborghinis and various used luxury cars last year. He also has a pre-owned inventory valued at more than $ 12 million. Through social media, David has created a worldwide fan base of more than 980,000 followers.
More importantly, he’s one of the top five Lamborghini dealers in the United States, on target to sell 85 new cars this year, up from 66 in 2015.
Prestige also has Lotus and Pagani franchises in the same building as Lamborghini. Prestige sold a second Lamborghini store in Palm Beach in 2010 and its thriving auto Audi store in 2015.
The Audi store sold for $ 80 million and was a top-selling Audi dealership in the country in the last decade. David said he got an unsolicited offer for the Audi store from Group 1 and decided to concentrate on Lamborghini.
Besides, he rode out the recession with Lamborghini, raced the cars, and “when the others blew up, Lamborghini was the franchise that kept making money,” David said. He also sold 48 used Lamborghinis last year and another 90 pre-owned cars — including about 50 luxury and exotic cars with a tag of $ 85,000-plus.
David said he realized the impact of social media when he was 19, seeing what “car spotters across the world armed with a Polaroid or a $ 10,000 Sony SLR” posted on video sites. When his father passed away in 2007, David decided to follow that route.
David said he launched his “social experiment” using Facebook, YouTube and Instagram to “build a brand, not just on the dealership but to build a brand around myself.”
The decision to stick with just exotic brands was fueled by an observation during the 2008-09 decline: “A lot of the consumers — especially in Miami — would lose their house and business and their family, but they kept their Lamborghini. It was ass-backwards living.”
There’s also a plus to being in Miami. Many customers have other homes throughout the world. In 2007, David said, he was selling to the local doctor, entrepreneur or real estate and finance mogul. These days, it’s more likely to be wealthy buyers from Venezuela, Brazil or Mexico who keep their Lamborghinis in Miami, where it’s more acceptable to show your wealth.
One early project that created a massive buzz on social media was commissioning Miami graffiti artist Jona Cerwinske to “tattoo” a $ 244,000 white 2007 Lamborghini Gallardo coated with 3M clear wrap with black permanent ink Sharpie markers.
The car was displayed at rallies, at car shows, on YouTube videos and on other social media outlets, he said: “We were developing a huge social network sales platform.”
David said he gets up to 70 inquiries a month, and some of his largest sales came from inquiries about Instagram photos. One led to the sale of a $ 2 million Pagani Zonda Revolucion to a collector. David said the buyer owns more than 20 exotic cars, but he wouldn’t give more details.
Touch, look, photograph
David said his philosophy is to be open and transparent — and that also goes for the cars. “The $ 2.5 million Bugatti and the $ 100,000 Ferraris are open — people can touch and feel them. They don’t have to put their hands and cameras in their pockets.”
And he tells his five salespeople they mustn’t be quick to judge customers by their appearance. “Our largest client comes in shorts, flip-flops and a V-neck.”
David figures he’s done $ 1 billion in sales since he took over the store — the revenue includes all new and used cars and service. About 75 percent of his cars are built to customer orders, and 25 percent of the buyers live in the Miami market. Sales aren’t seasonal because when it’s winter in South America, it’s summer in Miami, and owners come north to their Florida homes.
Buyer demographics also have changed since the recession, shifting to South America buyers — business moguls and media and oil executives, David said.
Trying to describe the typical Lamborghini buyer is difficult, David said.
Many don’t come to the showroom but talk to him via FaceTime, email and text messages. He said the store has closed deals on boats, and has put cars in clients’ living rooms “for the husband or wife as a wow factor. A lot of those clients like that.”
The Lamborghini Urus SUV due in 2018 will be a big seller, he said: “There is such demand for this car — we have over 40 reservations.”
Events are also a big draw. The dealership sponsors supercar runs including the Lamborghini Miami BullFest — for the bull in the brand logo — in the middle of February. The second annual event was this year.
It offers an opportunity to drive for many out-of-town owners in areas where “there is snow on the ground and Lamborghinis cooped up in garages,” David said.
About 10 18-wheelers brought dozens of cars this year from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and other northern markets for the three-day run in Miami with 105 cars, including some from local owners. The event included a rally and a road course. All of the cars ended up at the upscale Fontaine-bleau hotel and the W hotel, both in Miami Beach.
“It was for people to meet like-minded guys,” David said. “For us, it was a dealership tool.”
The only advertising was social media, and participants all posted under the hashtag #bullfestmiami, creating an online photo album, said David.
The event generates income for Prestige. This year, the store serviced, detailed and made performance upgrades to many participating Lamborghinis, yielding about $ 75,000 in revenue. Six new and used Lamborghinis and four used exotic cars were sold during the most recent event.
Other events include the annual Halloween supercar run at which customers create a character with their vehicle, David said.
“People drive their Lambos. At the end of the day, they are pieces of metal, and they are meant to be driven,” he said. “I do these events so they do not become monument pieces that sit in the garage.”