Toyota must rename Corolla
I am writing about your March 16 story, 'Toyota frets over its uncool, 'ojisan' image.'
As a retired Toyota dealer who still sells Toyota products, I am delighted to learn that Toyota Motor Corp. is concerned about its loss of sales and lack of sales to the youth market. That has troubled me for some time.
Trying to persuade young prospective buyers to consider a Toyota Corolla is almost impossible. Conquest sales are hampered by the Corolla's uninspiring name.
The dictionary defines 'corolla' as 'the petals of a flower.' Not exactly a macho name when competing with 'Integra,' 'Prelude,' 'Legacy,' 'Esteem,' 'Neon' or 'Miata.' Even 'Cavalier' has a nice ring.
I find many baby boomers feel that the Corolla is the car their mother or their aunt drove, and they can't bring themselves even to test-drive this fine motorcar.
I'm confident that Toyota's North American advertising agency can come up with a new name.
Something less wimpy and more aggressive would no doubt increase sales to a market Toyota needs so badly.
Come on, Toyota! Let's get some panache for this very fine car. It deserves better.
West Vancouver, British Columbia
He killed demos, and it worked
As a dealer and a member of a family that owns several dealerships, I'd like to say that replacing demos and paying demo allowances was the best thing we ever did.
We eliminated demos 10 years ago. We thought we might lose a few salespeople, but that did not happen. It made the salespeople prouder of what they owned, and we lost none.
The salespersons at our dealerships have been with us an average of eight years. Our policy stops the people looking for the three D's (demo, draw, day off) so we can concentrate on finding the best salespeople to help our customers.
Oh, by the way, there is no free lunch in life. Someone must pay for it.
JOHN D. REAGAN
Jefferson City, Mo.
Dealership CPA sticks up for demos
In his March 30 letter, CPA William Nesdore suggested that dealers get rid of demos.
I am a CPA, and I have been in the retail auto business for 11 years. I have seen the demo issue from both sides as a financial manager concerned about expenses and as a dealership manager concerned about perks and benefits.
It concerns me when a fellow CPA makes a suggestion to dealers that is nothing more than a bean-counter comment. To consider only the dollars spent is irresponsible.
If we considered only the cost, we would eliminate a lot of expenditures. To suggest that dealers get rid of demos because of stricter Internal Revenue Service record keeping doesn't take into consideration the benefits of demos.
Demos do recruit and retain better managers and salespeople. Demos do sell cars and trucks. I know of several sales that were made because someone noticed a dealer tag on a demo at home, at church, at the ballpark, at the grocery store, etc., and inquired about a vehicle or the dealership.
Sure, there is a cost vs. benefit associated with demos, just as there is with any expenditure.
Demos are a value-added expense. They provide dealership visibility, an occasional incremental sale, and, most important, they help recruit and retain quality employees at a time when good employees are at a premium.
If a demo helps recruit an employee who adds $150,000 to your bottom line, is the cost of providing the demo worth it? The retail auto industry must look at ways to retain quality employees, not run them off.
I urge Mr. Nesdore to stop thinking like a bean counter and start thinking like a market-driven, value-added professional adviser. Advise all your dealer clients to eliminate employee benefits and see what happens to their bottom line.
The writer is controller of a dealership in a large Atlanta dealer group.
AutoNation store is no competition
I recently visited the new AutoNation store in Irvine, Calif., and my first thought was that I was at the rental car return in the John Wayne Airport.
I have been an independent auto dealer in Orange County, Calif., for 15 years, and I welcome AutoNation to the neighborhood. Its poorly reconditioned cars, trucks and vans at retail prices should enhance my business.
Mike Maroone (Feb. 16) states his vehicles are 'below market price.' What market is that? I can sell vehicles for thousands of dollars less, with first-class service and buyback guarantees. That is not a new concept.
I question whether Orange County buyers will get excited about overcharging to increase profits for stockholders.
MARK S. PERLEBERG
Orange Coast Auto Sales
Mission Viejo, Calif.
He's not a fan of transplants
I am writing about your March 30 story on the economic impact of transplants.
This is a big fallacy, and it lacks reality. You should ask how many jobs were lost at the Big 3 and their suppliers.
Transplants do not create new jobs; they just move them from one state to another.
It is like saying that Sony created jobs in the United States without saying how many jobs were lost at Zenith and RCA.
Also, profits earned by the transplants leave the United States. Don't be fooled; we do not need the transplants.
Another example: Toyota tells you how many parts of the car are made in the United States, but Toyota does not tell you the name of the manufacturer.
The writer is an executive of an aftermarket company.
Beetle, Prowler: Kissin' cousins?
The retro Beetle's closest competitor must be the Plymouth Prowler.
Redondo Beach, Calif.
The writer is a free-lance journalist.