Shop Management: Taking Image-Building To New Heights

Shop Management: Taking Image-Building To New Heights

If you think you're doing a great job with customer service, you might want to think again. Dealerships in your area may have the upper hand. Toyota has launched "Image USA II," a dealership renovation program aimed at upgrading dealership exteriors and interiors with an emphasis on special customer "touch points" to provide a new dealership "experience."

By Mary DellaValle
Editor, ImportCar

If you think you’re doing a great job with customer service, you might want to think again. Dealerships in your area may have the upper hand.

Toyota has launched “Image USA II,” a dealership renovation program aimed at upgrading dealership exteriors and interiors with an emphasis on special customer “touch points” to provide a new dealership “experience.” The program is part of an overall strategy to boost sales to more than 3 million vehicles by the year 2010.

Having already spent $2.6 billion over the past five years to upgrade dealerships nationwide, Toyota is asking its dealers to spend an additional $1.2 billion this year to expand and improve their facilities as part of the program.

The Image USA II program features a very customer-centric showroom designed to make every aspect of a customer’s visit worthwhile and comfortable. As part of the program, Toyota is recommending that every dealer provide the following: a children’s play area, WiFi technology, courtesy cars, a car wash, and a fireplace and coffee bar in the service area for waiting customers.

Many dealers, however, are taking the concept to the next level. One Toyota dealer in the Akron, OH, area is also adding a small cafe where customers can get pastries and coffee. The same dealership is also adding several service bays, putting in a business center (off of the customer waiting room) where customers can plug in laptops and work in comfort, and adding quick lube service with its own dedicated entrance.

It’s all about making customers ultra comfortable with their vehicle service experience, reinforcing brand loyalty, and laying the foundation for long-time customers and repeat vehicle sales.

If a sizeable expansion of your shop, or some of the other enhancements mentioned above, are not within your reach, consider some moderate things you can do to make a big impression with your customers. While it may not be feasible for you to add a car wash setup to your shop, maybe you can hire a high school student(s) to wash customers’ vehicles after they’re serviced. If you can’t provide courtesy cars, think about hiring a retired person to shuttle your customers to and from work to ease the burden of temporarily being without a car.

Whatever you decide to implement, the bottom line is that you too have the power to create customers for life through creative marketing and by delivering optimal levels of customer service. You might just need to kick things up a notch.

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