A Change for the Better

A new owner with a fresh perspective has turned Hillside Toyota into the fastest-growing dealership in the New York Region
by Dan Miller
Nov/Dec 2019
A Change for the Better
Back to Basics
Scott Reback has turned Hillside Toyota into the fastest-growing dealership in the New York Region since taking ownership in 2017. “We’re not reinventing the wheel here,” he says.
In 2018, Hillside Toyota sold an average of 209 new vehicles each month. One year earlier, the same store in Jamaica, New York, was running at just a 169-units-per-month sales clip.
That 24 percent change in fortune makes Hillside Toyota the fastest-growing dealership in the New York Region.
What the heck happened?
“We acquired the dealership in November 2017,” says Scott Reback, the current owner. “Since then, it’s been about getting back to basics. We’re not reinventing the wheel here.”

Reback might be new to Toyota, but he’s not new to the car business. He bought his first dealership, a Nissan store, in 2002. With Hillside, he now has eight outlets in his portfolio. In each case, his focus has been on taking care of his customers, both the external customers who come to one of his dealerships to buy and service their vehicles and the internal customers who help make all of that happen.
The key on both fronts, he says, is leaving nothing to chance.
“We’ve put a lot of processes into place,” he says. “The Toyota brand is strong as heck. So it’s really about treating people right and getting them to like your dealership. After all, there’s plenty of other places they could go.”
For example, every external customer who walks into the showroom gets:
  • A warm greeting with a handshake and a smile
  • An offer of coffee and a bagel if it’s in the morning, or lunch if it’s in the afternoon
  • An invitation to sit down and go through a list of questions to identify who they are and what they need
From there, the sales consultant will either recommend a vehicle or follow the customer’s lead if they already have a specific model in mind. That will trigger a full walk-around presentation and demonstration drive. In all, there are 10 discreet steps to turn a prospect into, as Reback puts it, “a savvy customer.”
Reback says his team aims to close every sale the same day it starts. But if the customer needs more time, Hillside Toyota’s new Business Development Center will begin following up with them within 24 hours to ask what the dealership can do to earn their business.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers
Reback retained 70 percent of the staff that was on hand before he acquired the dealership. His secret? "A little recognition and appreciation go a long way," he says.

 “Once they’re in our database, we stay in contact with them until they either buy from us or ask us to stop calling,” says Reback. “We don’t complicate it. We stick to the basics and take care of the little things that other dealers might forget to do.”
That attention to detail carries through to the service side of the store, where the ToyotaCare free maintenance program gives Hillside Toyota a great opportunity to turn new Toyota owners into customers for life.
Recognition and Appreciation
Meanwhile, Reback also takes good care of his internal customers.

“You pay them what they’re supposed to be paid and when you promised to pay them,” he says. “You aggressively incentivize them on sales volume and customer satisfaction scores so they know the harder they work the more they benefit. A little recognition and appreciation goes a long way.”
This no-nonsense approach to the business might explain how Reback managed to retain 70 percent of the prior regime’s staff. He’s since built on that foundation with several new hires to help keep pace with the sales growth.
But the best just might be yet to come. Reback is currently working to get approvals to proceed with all-new standalone sales and service facilities. The latter will boost capacity from 12 service bays to 35. If all goes according to plan, both will be a reality by this time next year.
“We’ve got everything rolling in the right direction now,” says Reback. “This dealership had lost some ground to the competition. But we’re gaining it back, and then some. We’re now outselling the Honda store on the corner. Toyota is a great venture.”
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