IOWA CITY – Home pick-up and delivery for maintenance, car interiors covered with plastic during service, and virtual shopping are all part of the new strategies Toyota of Iowa City is enacting to promote health and safety during the coronavirus crisis that began in mid-March.
“Right now, people are being told to stay home, and typically the goal of a dealership is to try and get people in the doors,” says Brandi Kohl, marketing representative for Toyota of Iowa City. “So we’re faced with trying to find a whole new way to service vehicles and sell vehicles at this point.”
Like many customer service businesses, Toyota’s first steps included plexiglass barriers at receptionist desks. The see-through barriers help prevent transmission of respiratory droplets between workers and customers. All employees are also wearing masks, Kohl said.
Toyota’s other key strategies involve protecting customers, increasing convenience, and being responsive:
• Customers who want their vehicles serviced can partake of at-home pick-up and delivery, Kohl said. This enables customers to comply with stay-at-home orders or encouragements.
• The service tech who arrives at your home will be wearing single-use gloves and a face mask, and will cover your driver’s seat, steering wheel, and gear shift with plastic “for the longevity of time we have your car here, from when we pick it up to when we drop it off,” Kohl says. Paper mats are placed on all floor mats.
• Shopping from home is also a key strategy, Kohl says, and builds on what was already a growing trend of starting the shopping experience online. Customers can browse Toyota’s inventory at www.toyotaiowacity.com, then text or email the make and model in which they are interested, plus any questions they have about their potential purchase. Toyota’s salespeople will then host a virtual tour of the auto, research the customer’s questions, and provide answers. Salespeople can also show customers numerous vehicles virtually, to help them explore specific features or see models with less features.
“It’s a pretty uncertain road for a lot of businesses. We’re just trying to handle it and make everyone comfortable in the meantime,” Kohl says.
Toyota of Iowa City was founded in 1981 by the Dreusicke family, moved to its current location on Highway 1 in 1996, and remains today a second-generation locally-owned company. It has received Toyota’s “President’s Award for Customer First” 28 times and is also a 10-time “Best of Area” winner, a recognition based on public votes that is offered annually by the Iowa City Press-Citizen. The dealership has a long history of supporting community efforts including the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, Iowa City Pride, and “Creating a Legacy of Local Artists,” a collaboration with Summer of the Arts that commissions artists age 16 to 25 to create original pieces.
This is the first in an ongoing series of articles about how businesses and groups that advertise in The Real MainStream are joining in efforts to increase public health and safety during the coronavirus crisis. You can learn more about Toyota of Iowa City at its website, www.toyotaiowacity.com, and at its Directory listing at The Real MainStream.