After Decades In The Industry, Starting As A Mechanic And Working His Way Through The Ranks, Jaguar And Land Rover Monmouth’s General Manager Is Taking The Luxury Eatontown Franchise To The Next Level
By Amanda Mccoy • Photos By Amesse Photography
For Bill DiMaio, the general manager at Jaguar and Land Rover Monmouth in Eatontown, an interest in vehicles from pickups to bicycles took root at an early age. But it was not merely speed or styling that kindled the inquisitive kid; the different components of a machine, and how they all worked in tandem to create something larger, fascinated him, though at the time he still didn’t know this curiosity would lead him to a successful multi decade career in the automotive industry.
“As I kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to do yet, but I loved playing around with bikes, cars, and radios,” recalled the Long Island born DiMaio. A gentle nudge from his father prompted the young adult to enroll in the General Motors Automotive Service Educational Program (ASEP), a two year intensive that combines advanced automotive technician training, academic coursework, and real world internships.
“You had to work in a dealership in order to graduate,” he explained. “From that moment on, I loved working on cars.”
DiMaio’s career course became clear. He took a position as a mechanic at a Buick Pontiac GMC dealership before moving to a Toyota retailer in Westbury, where he spent two decades, starting as a mechanic and master technician before moving ranks to parts and service director and ultimately the general manager. A Lexus dealership in New Jersey was the natural next step, and the NADA Dealer Academy graduate spent another five years with the TMNA brand before his dealership’s parent company, Penske Automotive Group, relocated the GM to a new professional home in 2018 with two prestigious luxury nameplates in Monmouth County.
When DiMaio first came to Jaguar and Land Rover Monmouth (the Jaguar and Land Rover brands merged in 2013), the dealership was a successful but humble operation, located in what the GM described as a “mom and pop atmosphere off the beaten path.” Since then, DiMaio and team have moved into a new state of the art facility in a highly visible location on Route 36 in Eatontown, doubling its service and sextupling the number of vehicles in the lot.
“Before I could put maybe 50 cars in the parking lot, now we have 300,” explained the seasoned vet. “Our showroom is truly state of the art. We have kiosks for customers to build their own vehicles in house and accessorize them. We have an incredible retail parts boutique with all the accessories they can use to individualize their vehicles. We are able to provide first class, red carpet service.”
The new facility comprises three separate buildings a new vehicle showroom, a pre-owned vehicle showroom, and a service center that performs rapid repairs, painting, bumper replacements, et al. Since the move, the sales numbers have rocketed from 70 or 80 cars per month to 150. Those are big numbers in luxury circles, but the GM noted the brand speaks for itself.
“This is a huge ‘want’ type vehicle. It gives you everything that you’ve ever dreamed of driving, from the advanced safety features to the amazing technology. It’s solidly built; people can feel that from the moment they get behind the wheel. It also doesn’t hurt that the vehicles are absolutely gorgeous, either.”
Several highly anticipated new releases are in the pipeline for 2021, including the refreshed Jaguar F Pace, new tech and powertrain upgrades on the Land Rover Discovery, and the U.S. debut of the Land Rover Defender 90 Two Door. A redesigned Range Rover is slated for a 2022 launch.
Following the onset of the pandemic last spring, the dealership saw a rise in both at home test drives and deliveries and over the phone sales, but the industry, noted DiMaio, had already begun to shift in this direction.
“So much research is done online today, and customers are more aware of exactly what they want, so the car buying experience does not take place in house nearly as much anymore. We were doing off sites prior to COVID, and now when people do come into the dealership, they are in and out quickly. It used to be a three or four hour event, but now everything is done before the client even gets here.”
With the new space, the luxury retailer was able to grow into its ambitions, though DiMaio explained the character remains unchanged.
“As big as we are, we keep the mom and pop feel, and both our customers and employees appreciate that. With our customers, it’s rewarding to deliver a car they’ve always wanted but maybe never thought they could get into; we do whatever we can to get people into their dream car and take out those old school sales tactics so we do the right thing for everybody.”
Employee satisfaction, the GM was quick to point out, is equally paramount. In fact, for two years in a row in 2018 and ‘19, the store was recognized as a “Top 100 Dealerships to Work For” by Automotive News.
“We do a lot of rating internally to ensure employee satisfaction and to support their families, and it’s important to promote a work life balance for our team. Pre COVID, I would host team building events for the employees go kart racing, bowling nights, hatchet throwing, ice cream Sundays, puppy adoptions on site, and more. This really means a lot for the employees to bond with team members they generally do not get to be around.”
The dealership is also heavily involved in the Monmouth County community via sponsorships for local fundraisers, charity events, the Boys and Girls Club, and other nonprofit initiatives. And in the wake of the pandemic, Jaguar and Land Rover Monmouth donated thousands of masks to healthcare facilities.
Looking back on his 30 year career, DiMaio credits his success to “the superior leadership and teamwork environment at Penske Automotive Group.”