There is no doubt that I am big fan of the Toyota Production System and the resulting Toyota vehicle product line. Despite these positive feelings, I have never owned a Toyota. Each time I am in the market for a new vehicle, I ended up buying a domestic brand including Buick, Chevy, Ford, and Dodge.
Yesterday, I went down to a Toyota Dealership in Indiana (name withheld) with a serious interest in buying a Toyota this time around. This was my first official Toyota sales contact although my wife visited Toyota dealerships before. All the vehicles were outstanding (I especially liked the newly redesigned Tundra). In direct contrast to the Toyota vehicles, my first time Toyota Sales Experience was not impressive.
Understanding that Toyota Motor Company does not own the dealerships and has no direct control over their operation, I suggest Toyota take a closer look at the dealership experience for kaizen. If Toyota can influence improvements in this experience, they can make a huge impact on continuing their growth. Otherwise, they may lose customers, not on the basis of the products but on the poor dealership experience.
The first major mistake was the arrogance of the Toyota Salesman. He hyped the Toyota products for features and engineering while slammed every domestic car manufacturing company and their products. We told him of our comparison shopping of other brands and he made us feel we were stupid to even consider them. Not a good sales technique! I was always taught NEVER to say bad things about any of your competitors. We even told him that we bought one of those terrible domestic vehicles in the past and it performed great. I guess we were just lucky?
The Toyota Salesman continued on his ego trip when we told him of another Toyota dealership my wife visited earlier in the week. He promptly pulled out some regional sales data sheet proudly showing his dealership ranking was extremely higher in number of vehicle sales than this other Toyota dealership. He continued his error by telling us that all he cares about is increasing the number of units sold to increase their ranking. I was a little stunned. Talk about results based management! What about us, the customer? Are we only a number to add to his tally sheet? Another poor sales method!
After working through the numbers (which did not change much from the list price), he tried the old “What will it take to get us to buy this vehicle today?” routine. We told him that we were going to look around and do comparison shopping before we made any decision. Yet, he pressed on with the pressure for a decision today.
The next poor experience was when we offered to trade in our vehicle. He did the routine vehicle check and asked us what we wanted for it. When we told him our expectation for the trade value, he laughed and stated that there was no way. We have a newer model, low miles, domestic vehicle with great options that we rated using both Kelly Blue Book and Edmunds. He offered us 35% less that the book value for our vehicle which was more of an insult to our intelligence than a good opening sales technique.
As we departed, we thanked him for his time. Before we even made it out of the showroom door, this salesman was off helping the next potential tally sheet addition in the sales lot.
Despite this poor sales experience, I will give other Toyota dealerships another chance. It would be unfair to judge all Toyota salesmen on this sample size of one but many other potential customers might not give them a second chance.