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John Villa once told his mom he was going to be an engineer. He went to Cal Poly—Cal California State Polytechnic University—and got his degree.

“No, you’re not,” his mom said, cutting vegetables in the kitchen, “you’re going to run the family business.”

“Mom was tough as nails,” Villa says, “but she had to be! She had five boys and married a shop owner.”

That business was his father’s shop, Villa Automotive, and now the shop is his. Villa owns and operates the 65-year family-run business and intends to eventually sell within the family. He took over in 1988 and now employs all four brothers within its walls. His wife does sales, his daughter is a painter and her fiance is poised to join the family endeavor as well.

On a 40,000 sq.-ft. lot, Villa Automotive is a massive facility that used to be four separate buildings until John consolidated them into one. 

“We’re going to hand the ball from the fourth generation to the fifth generation sometime,” he says. But not yet. Consolidation and handoffs are tough for any business, much less ones as storied as Villa Automotive. To help John and his family sift through the data and surge ahead, he relies upon data from KUKUI.

Learn by Trying

Villa tells me that his shop was KUKUI’s seventh customer; they have been working together for a long time. 

“KUKUI is a great company,” Villa says, describing how from the earliest sales pitch he heard from one representative who looked him in the eye and told him exactly what they could do and couldn’t do for him. He signed on.

In the digital world, that was entire ages and empires ago. For Villa, growing with KUKUI has mirrored his alma mater’s slogan: “Learn by trying.” 

“Everything is so dynamic in tech, and in our industry, it’s about stability,” Villa says. 

“People come in the doorway and they want to talk to the technician who’s been there for decades. We have that, and we have the data on their vehicle to ensure every corner is covered,’ Villa says.

He uses the KUKUI dashboard to not only track what’s happening within his shop—weekly car count, monthly ROs, marketing spend—but to track how his shop stacks up against the competition.

“We’re top ten in car count, new customers, gross profit labor and parts, customer count, we’re top ten everywhere,” he says. For such a hands-on industry, Villa says they’re even top 10 in email capture of new clients. 

Villa says their average ticket is just over $300 but they also incorporate regular lube pit and smog checks for an additional $150 each time. KUKUI helps him document it all to not only provide the customer a transparent repair order but to stay in line with the state of California. 

“Everyone trusts the tech, and that’s good for us,” he says, “that’s very good.”

Villa says they also incorporate KUKUI’s comprehensive phone tracking into their daily strategies. 

“They know where my advertising money is coming from,” he says, “because we have ten lines and we track it. Using the dashboard, I can filter down to what I want to see and to see what’s effective. I’m not blowing money that I don’t need to blow.”

Nobody likes to blow money. “Last time we had a good fistfight was about ten years ago,” Villa laughs, and mom said, “Go outside, you’re putting holes in the walls!”

Since implementing KUKUI, Villa Automotive’s walls are free of fist-shaped blemishes and the family is moving forward together. To see how KUKUI can help your shop, check out

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