Andrew Chung, owner of Pickering Toyota, built his business from the ground up. In 1988, he made the bold move of buying two Toyota dealerships at once—and it paid off. The growth and prosperity of the Durham region combined with smart management strategies have made Pickering Toyota a runaway success. The dealership is now a staple in the Durham Region, and is continually voted one of Ontario’s top Toyota dealerships. The superstore is a full-service facility offering new and pre-owned vehicle showrooms, parts and service and a collision centre. This Toyota one-stop-shop has been a staple of the community for over 20 years, and the area has continually supported this dealership. Pickering Toyota is proudly a top-20 sales volume dealer across Canada.
Navigating the competitive landscape
In a competitive market like the automotive industry, how has Pickering Toyota managed to remain successful? The secret, according to Chung, is in the staff. If you want your salespeople to succeed at selling cars, you have to ensure they have an enjoyable, encouraging environment in which to work. That favourable environment can be felt by the consumer; they can sense when staff are happy. Chung believes in providing the absolute best environment for his employees, insisting this transforms into higher sales. Selling cars is inherently linked to the mood of your staff. Comments Chung, “When your staff are happy, they are in the mood to give the best customer service.” As the company’s policy is to provide just that, it appears that he is on to something.
Dealing with a downturn
The impact of the recent economic downturn in Canada had a tremendous impact on the automotive sector. The industry overall has taken a well-documented dive and Toyota is no exception. Sales have been down 25 to 30 per cent in Canada. Pickering Toyota has inevitably felt the crunch, but is still operational and feels positive for the future. Toyota Canada and the manufacturers are working hard to restore the loss they have felt over the last few years. It has numerous sales and marketing initiatives in place to help boost sales at a national level. Chung notes that the discounts on the manufacturers end are unlike anything he has ever seen before and are an unprecedented move into the favour of consumers. Interest rates are at the lowest he has ever witnessed since his entry into the industry. He comments, “It really is the best time to buy a car right now; I’ve never seen anything like this before.” With the support and initiatives of the company on a national level, he anticipates sales will continue to steadily climb.
Nobody can forget the infamous Toyota recall earlier this year. During an already volatile period, Toyota was at the centre of a high profile recall over potentially dangerous acceleration pads. Over 200,000 cars of a number of models were involved. The massive publicity over the event—and a series of recalls since—have taken a toll on the public image of Toyota as a safe and reliable car. Chung acknowledges that the time during the recalls has been tricky to navigate. He argues, however, that customers who are currently driving Toyota vehicles remain largely unaffected by the negative press. “Drivers know, and they don’t believe the reports because they have been drivers for years.” Toyotas have a loyal customer base, and concerns lean more towards the market segment that are not brand users.
So how does Pickering Toyota deal with the recall? Employees do the best they can with customers to offer insurance that Toyota creates safe, reliable, quality cars. Anyone who comes into the showroom is given the utmost insurance that Toyota is committed to safety. Says Chung, “We try to give them comfort.” At a dealership level, he explains, the smartest strategy to any negativity is to provide exceptional customer service to every person who comes through the door.
Future goals and community involvement
Pickering Toyota stands by their products and services. They believe in the quality of Toyota as a vehicle, and go above and beyond when providing customer service. In the face of adversity, this premise has kept the dealership in business. The goal for the future is to regain the momentum lost during the recent economic crash. Toyota Canada has a number of advertising and promotional activities planned for the near future, and Pickering Toyota looks excitedly toward them. Chung, a Korean-Canadian, is also interested in the potential of attracting new business to Canada. Foreign investors can find an incredible marketplace here, and Chung has already seen interest in the idea. Having made his successful business here, he likes to promote Canada to his community as an ideal place for commerce.
Pickering Toyota is committed to community involvement in the Durham Region. Says Chung, “We want to participate in the community; we’re not just here to do business.” Every year, for example, they throw a Christmas party for single moms in the Pickering and Ajax communities. The dealership is interested in remaining an integral part of a safe, family-friendly community for many more years.