If a small-town Toyota dealer shouts a concern about his business, will anybody hear him?
Jay Caldwell wants to be sure the answer is yes.
Caldwell, chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Advisory Council, says improved communication between the dealer council and small dealers is key to improving overall dealership performance in 2014.
As president of single-point Caldwell Toyota in Conway, Ark., Caldwell knows about being a small-town dealer. Conway, which is 30 miles north of Little Rock, has 63,000 residents.
"We really have to focus on retaining customers," Caldwell said. "That's a huge piece of our business. We have a great brand and an incredible group of dealers. But we can be better at marketing our cars, better at servicing and retaining our customers. And we can be better at communication."
Caldwell says he wants to be sure small dealers who send input "up through the funnel" know they will get a proper response.
"You send that message up, and you don't hear back, and it seems like no one is listening," Caldwell said. "If we do a better job of communicating back, it will increase participation in the process. Input from all our dealers absolutely shapes our priorities in our conversations."