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National Quality Dealer Focuses on Customers

By Ted Craig June 26, 2019

he National Independent Automobile Dealers Association named Otto Hahne the 2019 National Quality Dealer of the Year.

The president of City of Cars in Troy, Mich., received the NIADA’s highest honor during the group’s recent convention in Las Vegas,

The National Quality Dealer is chosen by a selection committee comprised of some of the most distinguished names in the used vehicle industry based on a variety of factors, including contributions to the automotive industry and the association, and community involvement.

 “I am so, so humbled,” Hahne said when accepting the award. “I love this industry and I can’t thank everyone enough. I never expected to be here.”

 Hahne’s remarkable journey began with a troubled childhood that eventually led to Boysville of Michigan, a youth crisis rehabilitation center run by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. Thatwas exactly what he needed to help him get his life on the right track and build the foundation for his career, he said.

From there he enrolled at the Michigan Career Institute and graduated at the top of his class as a master mechanic. After working as a service technician for auto dealers, he opened his own independent shop, repairing and restoring Jaguars and other exotic cars.

Soon the owners of those cars began to ask him for advice about buying other high-end vehicles. Eventually that led him to become a buyer for auto dealerships.

In 1994, he took the leap of opening his own dealership, Factory Executive Motor Cars, with $20,000 and an inventory of just three vehicles.

Hahne’s business was located in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac. Although he lived in nearby Troy, he couldn’t operate his store there due to the city’s ban on independent dealership.

That changed after the Great Recession na din 2001 Hahne moved his operation, renaming the store City of Cars.

He later added a store in neighboring Clawson and now keeps a combined inventory of 250 vehicles with $28 million in sales last year.

City of Cars is a true family business. Hahne’s wife Jerrianne and children Lauren, Leah and Evan are all involved.

Hahne has grown by focusing on the customer experience and often expresses his care for his customers in another way, with what his wife calls “the famous Otto hug.”

 “We don’t really ‘sell’ cars,” he said. “We connect our customers with the right car for them.

“We can come in each morning with a smile, leave each day able to look ourselves in the mirror – and even have a little fun in between.”

Hahne said the staff has carte blanche” to take care of any customer issues that come up.

The dealership staff has gone from two employees to 17. Six former employees currently operate their own independent dealerships, thanks in part to the mentoring Hahne is always willing to provide.

His favorite bit of business philosophy is, “Every minute a car is not online is a minute of lost opportunity” – to others.

 He has served as a mentor not only to his team members but to employees of other dealerships, many of whom have been sent to Hahne by the dealerships’ owners to be trained in his methods.

Hahne continues to constantly educate himself on the industry’s latest trends and techniques. He is an active member of an NIADA Dealer 20 Group and in 2018 he completed the course to become a Certified Master Dealer.

He also gives back to his national and state independent dealers associations, the used-vehicle industry and his community.

Hahne started becoming more active with the Michigan Independent Automobile Dealers Association a few years ago when he saw the industry was under threat from regulators. He is currently serving his second term as president of the Michigan IADA.

During his time with the Michigan IADA, Hahne was instrumental in the association’s campaign to enact legislation requiring pre-licensing and continuing education for the state’s used-vehicle dealers and in setting up an internship program with Northwood University.

At the national level, he has been involved in NIADA lobbying efforts at the federal level at the National Policy Conference in Washington D.C.

Hahne has given his money and time to community and charitable organizations including youth sports, Boy Scouts, Care House, St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the Lions Club and, of course, Boysville. He has also helped numerous individuals, donating money, vehicles and Christmas gifts to families in need.

For the past 10 years, he has given each patient at Detroit’s Qualicare Nursing Home a Christmas gift bag.

NextGear Capital is donating an emergency response vehicle on his behalf to the Detroit chapter of the American Red Cross. The presentation will take place this fall.




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Last modified on Wednesday, 11 December 2019 20:56

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