Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Service with a view

Published:Sunday | February 21, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Michael McGrane, branch manager, Toyota Jamaica Old Hope Road (left), Howard Foster, sales and marketing manager (centre) and Tracy-Ann Fletcher, assistant marketing manager, at the new Toyota Jamaica branch during a media tour on Wednesday afternoon.
Michael McGrane, branch manager, Toyota Jamaica Old Hope Road, beside the window through which customers can see the facility's service area.
Vehicles on the showroom floor of the new Toyota Jamaica Limited Old Hope Road branch.

There was a new smell to the Toyota Jamaica location at 93 Old Hope Road, St Andrew, last Wednesday afternoon and it was not coming from the vehicles on the showroom floor, because their doors were closed.

It was the fresh scent of a brand new building, with sheen on the tiles and firm cushioning in the black seating area where customers have a choice of views the television screen mounted in the upper corner of a wall, the energy consumption levels of the building which runs on a blend of solar energy and power from the JPSCo grid, or out a wide window at the service area.

It is this service with a view which is at the heart of the new building strategy which manager of the Old Hope Road branch, Michael McGrane, outlined during the media tour of Toyota Jamaica's newest facility in the country, ahead of Thursday evening's grand opening. "The objective is being transparent in the service facility," McGrane said.

So there will not be the stereotypical set-up of the vehicle being "driven behind a big gate" and the customer being presented with a bill.

That service viewing window is part of an integrated front of house layout, where "everything is self-contained. Everything is under one roof", McGrane said. The vehicles are displayed in a 5,000-square foot space (where the vehicles are plugged into sockets on the floor, maintaining the facility's environmentally aware focus).

From sales to service and, of course, the view there is a seamless flow with the customer experience being the objective throughout. This is to the point of having a covered area for persons coming in to the parts area, just in case it is raining.

Choosing location

In choosing the location in the first place, McGrane explained that Toyota Jamaica enjoys a market leadership position and, expanding from its Spanish Town Road headquarters, has expanded to Montego Bay and now Old Hope Road for convenience. "We are closer to the customer, we can satisfy their needs," he said.

With daily deliveries between the Spanish Town Road and Old Hope Road locations, McGrane said "we are never more than two hours away from any special order."

McGrane emphasised the use of solar energy, the building running on a hybrid system with the national electricity grid. Solar energy is the primary source, panels covering 90 per cent of the roof.

He explained that that thee is no battery storage for the solar set-up, which takes over power supply from the JPSCo as the sun comes up and relinquishes it as dusk approaches. The solar system cost US$300,000 and the investment should pay off itself in about five years. Projected energy savings are about US$50,000 annually.

Noting that the hybrid system makes the new Toyota Jamaica facility "one of the most efficient buildings in Jamaica and probably, the most efficient in Jamaica", McGrane said, "The environment is important to Toyota."

This extends to the availability of the hybrid Prius and Camry models.

And a special effort was made to use local suppliers, McGrane saying, "The other half of Toyota is Jamaica."