Showroom to Go

Sun Toyota’s personal delivery service is a home run with customers
by Dan Miller
July/August 2017
Showroom to Go
Special Delivery
Sun Toyota customer Yecenia Estrada didn’t have to travel far to pick up her vehicle. Military veterans Tyler St. Onge (right) and Patrick Chaban delivered it right to her doorstep. Photos by Jimmy Fashner
Thanks to a strong online presence on its website and social media channels, Sun Toyota has long enjoyed a steady flow of inquiries from customers throughout the greater Tampa, Florida, area.

But since Managing Partner John Marazzi came on board with a change of ownership a year ago, the percentage of those inquiries that progress from initial contact to full-on two-way conversation has gone up. Significantly.
What’s the difference? Three words: “Showroom to Go.”
That’s the name of the innovative program Marazzi created to respond to customers who prefer not to come into the dealership.
“Our digital marketing efforts as well as our traditional TV and radio advertising were generating a lot of activity,” Marazzi says. “But too often we would end up giving out pricing information on vehicles that customers would take to a different dealer to help them negotiate a better deal. So, we said, ‘We’ll bring the car to you, for a test drive or to make the purchase.’ Once we did that, our contact rate — the point at which we establish true two-way communication — jumped up a full 10 percent.”
How Does it Work?
As a practical matter, Sun Toyota limits this offer to customers within a 1.5-hour drive of the Holiday, Florida, dealership. That radius is more than sufficient to cover Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of the other towns packed into this densely populated urban area.

Evolving Business
Managing Partner John Marazzi says the Showroom to Go program is making customers happy because they have more options.

If a customer is interested, a salesperson will drive the vehicle to the customer’s location (such as their home or place of business), conduct a walk-around presentation and accompany the customer on a test drive. If the customer would like to spend more time behind the wheel before making a decision, they simply present a copy of their driver’s license and auto insurance and keep the vehicle overnight.
And, customers who’ve made up their minds can complete nearly all of the transaction, such as an appraisal of their trade-in vehicle and arranging for financing, remotely.
In those instances, Sun Toyota hires a team of military veterans who transport the vehicle to the customer on a flatbed truck. The service includes a “white glove” delivery, introducing the new owner to all of the vehicle’s features and assisting them with such tasks as pairing their mobile phone to the Bluetooth network and programming the radio’s preset buttons.
“I’m not aware of any other dealers who are doing this, which kind of surprises me,” Marazzi says. “This is all part of the evolution of the car business. How many customers really want to come into a dealership and spend five hours buying a car? We have to appeal to and fulfill our customers’ expectations.
“Besides, it really doesn’t add much to our cost,” he adds. “We do award a small bonus to any salesperson who takes a car to a customer. And they’re happy to do it if it generates more sales. Even with transport, we’re only looking at a flat fee of $200 per delivery. That’s nothing compared to gaining a new customer.”
Delivering a Better Experience
The Showroom to Go offer applies to both new and pre-owned vehicles. Add this perk to others — such as a free extended 20-year/200,000-mile powertrain warranty on new vehicles, cash back for referrals and savings on parts and accessories purchases — and it’s clear why Sun Toyota’s sales are on the rise.
“We know that 80 percent of our internet customers shop three to four dealerships,” says General Sales Manager Ferris Hamdan. “The question is: Who is going to give them the best experience? It’s not all about price. It’s really about bang for the buck. We give customers a fair price. But we also strive to give them a Ritz-Carlton experience. Showroom to Go is a big part of that. It’s definitely making a difference.”
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