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Showcase: San Francisco Toyota

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San Francisco Toyota
A virtual tour of San Francisco Toyota.

SHOP STATS: San Francisco Toyota  Location: San Francisco  Operator: John Horton and Doug Donnellan  Average Monthly Car Count: 200 (service) Staff Size: 18 (service) Shop Size: 55,000 square feet Annual Revenue: $28,000,000 all locations

1. Samurai Heritage

John Horton, owner of San Francisco Toyota, decided to bring the samurai warrior suit, which is on display in the showroom, back from a trip to Japan in order to commemorate the trip and also display a symbol of the protectiveness of the samurai over Japanese culture.

The owners, Horton and Doug Donnellan, wanted the showroom’s decorations to tie into the history of the Toyota company. Toyota Motor Corporation began in 1933 as a division of Toyoda Automatic Loom Works, founded by the Japanese manufacturer Sakichi Toyoda. The samurai suit is one way the dealership represents the Japanese culture.


2. Green Initiatives

The dealership is one of the largest alternative fuel vehicle dealers in the country for Toyota, says Donnellan. For hybrid sales, the business ranks in the top five in the U.S.

The building has also received a Platinum LEED certification, the highest rating available by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.


3. Old Mode of Transportation

Before the building was turned into a dealership, it was an old carriage house in the 1800s. The building was remodeled about 10 years ago but the original carriage house beams and brick wall were preserved, Paul Medina, director of fixed operations, says. The building has a greater volume in sales than the Van Ness location, the other San Francisco Toyota site.


4. Care About the Customer

When a customer rolls into the Geary location, he or she is greeted by three or four employees standing outside the building. The shop’s service can range between $30–$50 above their competitor’s prices, but the service will provide a personal experience.

Medina says that while other Toyota dealerships race to offer the cheapest rates, their business is focused on selling the “experience” and customer service.


5. Make the Most of the Space

The Geary location can only accommodate approximately 120 cars per day, Medina says. In front of the main showroom, only 46 cars can fit onto the lot, while across the street lies an additional lot of 40 cars.  Horton and Donnellan are used to making the most out of a small space. Smack dab in the city, the Van Ness location fits into a narrow, corner space in the city, with Toyota cars parked along the street.

Even with limited space, out of 58 Toyota dealerships in the Sacramento area of California, San Francisco Toyota, remains one of the most successful.

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