Despite a fourth year of falling sales — largely the result of consumers' ongoing pivot away from sedans and hatchbacks and toward crossovers and SUVs — the vast majority of Toyota dealers remain very profitable and are benefiting from continued excellent relations with the manufacturer.
Many U.S. Toyota dealers will spend this year converting their online retailing operations to SmartPath, the system developed by Toyota Motor North America that will allow consumers to begin their vehicle shopping at home and transition seamlessly to the showroom.
The SmartPath system has the potential to increase customer satisfaction and reduce dealers' dependence on third-party vendors, says Robby Findlay, this year's chairman of the Toyota National Dealer Advisory Council. Findlay, 39, is chairman of Findlay Toyota Flagstaff in Arizona and director of operations for family-owned Findlay Automotive Group in the Southwest, which has 22 brands and crossed $2 billion in revenue in 2019.
Findlay spoke with Staff Reporter Larry P. Vellequette. The following are edited excerpts.
Q: How was 2019 for Toyota dealers?
A: Toyota dealers, I think, were extremely happy with 2019. Car sales were relatively flat, but profits were great, and I think we're excited about the future lineup.