Hefner“If a customer has something negative to say about their experience, I want to hear it,” said Brian Hefner, General Manager of Tom Wood Toyota. “We use everything as an opportunity to train our staff and improve our processes.”

Hefner’s store is one that prides itself on long-lasting customer relationships, transparency and a values-based reputation that any dealership would be proud of. Through a commitment to excellent customer service and an attitude that embraces opportunities for improvement, Hefner and his team consistently deliver on their brand throughout the customer experience. Here’s how they do it:


When new candidates interview at Tom Wood Toyota, it’s not with a single sales manager or owner – it’s with the whole team. Every manager is encouraged to give feedback and share why they think the potential new hire will, or will not, improve the team and brand well.


Needing to hire a new employee often means a store is shorthanded. As a result, other employees may be forced to pick up the slack and, as a manager, you may feel rushed to fill the position. Try not to be.

Preparing a new hires for their role is the key to long-term success. At Tom Wood Toyota, Hefner puts each new employee through an extended training process that covers everything from product knowledge and dealership processes to store values. His team starts with a sound foundation then builds on it by identifying employee-challenges and using customer feedback as coaching opportunities.

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As customers step into the dealership at Tom Wood, the first thing they see is a sign outlining the positive experience they can expect by working with dealership. Hefner backs it up by inviting customers to contact him directly if those expectations aren’t met. Though the majority of the feedback is positive – most customers are pleasantly surprised– occasional negative feedback helps identify issues and leads to process improvement.

Protecting the brand

Tom Wood Toyota’s reputation extends far beyond the showroom walls. As one of the best-reviewed dealerships in the Midwest, the store’s online reputation is a direct result of the quality of their in-person experience. The dealership receives and monitors online reviews on a daily basis to identify positive and negative feedback. Hefner responds directly to all inbound reviews, showcasing his accessibility and reinforcing the dealership’s brand.

Learn more about how to deliver on your dealership’s brand in our free eBook, “Have You Met the ‘New’ New Car Shopper?”

What tips do you have to make sure your customer experience stays true? Share them in the comments below.


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Tom Wood Toyota Case Study

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