Best in Town

Toyota’s new award, inspired by Akio Toyoda, puts the selection process in the hands of its dealers
by Dan Miller
May/June 2016
Best in Town
Be the Best
Toyota Motor Corporation President Akio Toyoda inspires dealers to deliver the absolute best experience to their customers. 
Photo by Brian Payne
It’s often said that all politics are local. And the same applies to automotive retailing. Toyota might be the No. 1 automaker around the world. But for customers, what really matters is their relationship with their dealer around the corner.

That’s why Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, created a new award in 2014—called “Best in Town”—presented to one dealer each year. In 2015 the focus was on the dealer process that best delivered an exemplary Sales, F&I and/or Service experience for its customers.

And he followed through on that promise at the Toyota National Dealer Meeting in Las Vegas last September, personally recognizing the first winner—Beaverton Toyota Dealer Principal Russ Humberston—with the new award. Like hockey’s Stanley Cup, the Oregon dealership gets to keep the stunning 52-pound block of crystal until passing it on to its successor later this year.

Peer-to-Peer Process

Toyoda might have gotten the ball rolling with this new award. But he doesn’t choose its winner. By design, that’s left up to Toyota’s more than 1,200 U.S. dealers.

“Unlike existing dealer awards that are based on objective criteria, ‘Best in Town’ is very much a qualitative award,” says Bryan Mitchell, Toyota Motor Sales sales support manager. “And, by design, it is peer to peer. We want our dealers who are out there interacting with customers on a daily basis to decide what is truly exceptional.”

Everything flows through a centralized website, administered by Toyota’s field organization. That’s where dealers can submit written descriptions, PowerPoint presentations, video clips and more to communicate their customer care innovations to their fellow dealers.

The winnowing process then follows these steps:
  • Via the website, dealers peruse the best practices in their Region and cast votes for as many as three entries. Up to 36 top vote getters (a maximum of three per Region) advance to the next round.
  • Next, a team of executives evaluates the entries to ensure they deliver on Toyota’s Let’s Go Places brand shift.
  • Once again, dealers weigh in, voting for one of the national finalists. The entry that garners the most votes is deemed to have best delivered on Toyoda’s challenge and gets the glory.
Your Time to Shine

For 2016, the “Best in Town” entry and selection process is already under way.

But there’s a new focus. The theme of this year’s award is dealership innovation in connecting with the local community. In other words, how does your philanthropy and charitable work set your store apart from the other businesses in your town? What are you doing to instill a feeling of pride in your customers when they drive their vehicles and think about the people who design, manufacture, sell and service them?

This is your chance to tell your unique story.

“We give dealers ownership of this,” says Mitchell. “This is about promoting and sharing best business practices. It’s about recognizing dealers who think outside the box and have the courage to seek out new ways to serve their customers. When it’s all said and done, that’s what makes a Toyota dealer ‘Best in Town.’”

To learn more about the “Best in Town” award and entry process, dealers should click on the “Best in Town” tab at the top of the Dealer Daily home page.
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