Wednesday, July 30, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Big remodel at Thompson’s Toyota

DSC_8850e

JEFF THOMPSON explains the changes planned for the remodeled and expanded Thompson's Toyota on Forni Road. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

By
From page B1 | October 16, 2013 |

Thompson’s Toyota may be No. 1 in Northern California in customer satisfaction, but that’s not good enough for Jeff Thompson, executive general manager of the company.

Wanting to further enhance customer service, Thompson’s is in the process of gutting, expanding and refurbishing its sales and service building on Forni Road so people coming in can easily find the services they need in an environment so inviting they may just start inventing excuses to visit the dealership.

Using the existing frame and roof of the old building, interior walls and obstructions are being removed and another 1,400 square feet are being added to create a spacious open feeling.

Thompson said redoing and expanding the building’s interior accomplishes several company goals: It satisfies the expectation of customers for a better sales and service experience; it helps dealers meet current and future needs for growth; and it’s part of a move by Toyota to generate a consistent brand identification across the country as the company goes green with its hybrid vehicles.

Ticking off all the “green” elements to be included in the new building, Thompson said it will have all low VOC (volatile organic compounds) materials, including the floor tiles, fixtures and paint as well as the materials used in the couches and desks. Bamboo will be used throughout as well as LED lights that are 40 percent more efficient. “Most dealership have lots of lights, and this will save on our energy costs,” said Thompson, adding that eventually they will go completely solar.

“The idea is to create an amazing experience for customers and associates who work here. The materials are more comfortable, warmer and offer a welcoming experience for customers, kind of like when you walk into your house. Some dealerships are big places and feel cold. We want it to feel open, but be a happy, cozy place.”

Since many people like to wait while their cars are being serviced, one of the improvements to the building will be a much nicer lounge area. It used to have nice cafe with a pot of coffee and a fridge full of sodas, said Thompson. But in the new building, customers will be able to make a mocha or latte plus there will be a variety of sodas and water, bagels, a toaster, candies, chips, breakfast bars and fresh fruit every day.

The customer lounge will also be twice the size it was before. Adding a homey touch will be a fireplace with a TV above it. “It will be like being in your living room, but in an open format,” he said.

As with the old building, there will be free wi-fi for those who want to use their computers while waiting and a quiet area for those who prefer to read. And something new will be a play area for kids, complete with toys.

Thompson said they actually started the project back in 2005 but it underwent several revisions along the way and then the economy stalled. “But it’s picking up and more Toyota dealers are getting on board now.”

“It all boils down to the customer and employee experience. Mostly it’s about customer service and being consistent with the brand.”

That branding includes having the latest equipment and keeping its mechanics up to date on changes in technology. “What it takes to train a technician is equal to going to six years of college and getting a master’s degree,” he said.

“It’s also about the experience for the customer. We treat them like we want to be treated. For us, the customer is right 100 percent of the time. We will bend over backwards and do backflips if that’s what it takes to make people happy and that’s really our goal. Currently we are No. 1 in Northern California in customer satisfaction out of 57 Toyota dealerships and that’s where we want to stay. That’s the whole idea.”

Thompson said they hope to be done with the renovations by the second week of January and to have a grand opening the last week in January or the first week in February.

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