Street Toyota

Texas Dealer Turns up the Volume on Customer Service with Pocket Radios
by Dan Miller
Jan/Feb 2016
Street Toyota
Wired to Serve
Senior Sales Associate Greg Smith consults with a customer on Street Toyota’s sales lot. With the touch of a button, Smith can communicate with virtually all of his colleagues at the Amarillo, Texas, dealership—helping to deliver a higher level of customer service.
General Manager Mike Good calls it “one of the simplest and best things we’ve done” in his 13 years at Street Toyota in Amarillo, Texas. But unless you look closely, you might just miss it. 
That’s because this “thing” is a tiny earpiece worn by most of the dealership’s employees. It’s connected to a discreet lapel microphone and pocket-sized radio that allows everyone on the team to easily communicate with one another. Conversations are transmitted over four distinct radio frequencies that can be accessed at the touch of a color-coded button, one for each department. 
“We started with service, followed with sales and now 113 of our 150 employees wear them,” says Good. “That includes me at least half the time. I can walk from department to department and listen in on the chatter. High-end hotel brands, like the Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, figured this out long ago. It’s the gold standard of customer service.” 
So, for example, if a customer asks a question about a vehicle that a sales consultant can’t answer, he or she can buzz the rest of the sales team or management for help—rather than waste time running around the store in search of an answer. Customers love the quick and transparent response. And salespeople, who’ve experienced a big boost in productivity, have enthusiastically embraced the devices, too.   
Service has also benefited. Service Director Jason Reed says he’s cut his daily steps from 20,000 to under 10,000, based on a Fitbit he wears throughout the work day. 
Good credits Matt Gile, general manager of Motorcars Toyota— a fellow member of a group of 20 auto retailers who meet periodically to share best practices—for planting the seed. That dealer group uses a few radios on its service drives. But it’s been Dealer Principal Joe Street’s customer-first philosophy that’s allowed the innovation to flourish. 
“Joe likes to say we’re not just here to make money. We’re first and foremost here to serve people,” says Street. “We’ve grown 400 percent over the past 10 years or so. All of that growth has been driven by a total commitment to customer service. That means hiring people who have a servant’s heart. And it means giving them tools—like these radios—that help them do what they do best. I only wish we’d taken advantage of this sooner.” 
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