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LONGO TOYOTA: RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jun 13, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

A RECIPE FOR SUCCESS By ROY NAKANO

Ever wonder why some car dealers make it big and others don't? Picking a successful car make certainly helps. Back in 1967, Dominic Longo took a long shot and picked Toyota, which was importing the rather homely but reliable Corona to the States. Starting with five employees, it became the number one volume Toyota dealership in its first year of operation.

Today, it sits on 40 acres of property in El Monte, California, and has one of the most efficiently operated service departments around. How efficient? They give you your own pagers so that you'll know when your car is ready. While you're waiting, you can sip on a café latte at the Longo Starbucks coffeehouse, get connected in the laptop room with free wireless Internet access, and watch whatever genre of television you prefer on the myriad of widescreen monitors they have throughout the facility.

  It's not just the service department that dazzles, however. The front-end - where car sale shoppers shop and sales are made - is equally impressive. As you go through the main entrance, there's a reception desk with two receptionists and fully stocked with brochures. That's right, not only do they actually have all the brochures, you can pick them up without having to see a salesperson. Of course, if you do want to see a salesperson, they'll get you one. If there's any waiting, you'll be guided to the widescreen TV-equipped lounge area.

When I picked up the long-term Prius at Longo, the dealership was unaware of my affiliation with the car magazine. Nonetheless, the fleet manager was remarkably candid about the car and the waiting period involved in acquiring one. It's not uncommon to run into salespeople at car dealers that confess to working at the dealership for just a month or two. So, it's heartening to learn that he's been with Longo for 15 years - a sign of a happy staff, and that the dealership is doing something right.

  What else do they have? How about their own Automobile Club office, and a mega-sized parts and accessory store - complete with a full-scale Indy race car hanging from its back wall. Soon, this will all be accompanied by an on-site Subway sandwich store. Adjacent to the Toyota dealership is Longo Lexus - for owners ready to make the move up. Even the westbound exit from Highway 10 appears to have been specifically designed to take you to the Longo entrance.   Other dealerships should take note. What we have here is a recipe for success. True, not all dealerships have the financial moxie of Longo. Being the number one volume Toyota dealer in the USA for the past 37 years, Longo's clout in the dealership world is akin to WalMart's clout in the retail store business. In my encounters with Longo, I haven't been able to pinpoint any deficiencies. A few might find their relentless pursuit of perfection in evaluation surveys a bit over the top. However, this seems to be a common practice among the most competitive dealerships, and the personnel at least seem genuinely interested in knowing if things aren't perfect.   Our hats are off to Longo for running an extremely tight ship. And no, this not a special advertising section of LAcar.com. Let's get this clear: Longo did not pay us to write this one.

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