When it was announced recently that 4 million Toyota models were being recalled, Findlay Toyota General Manager Rich Abajian went to work immediately with a proactive approach to inform company customers of a possible problem with sticky accelerator pedals on several models.
Within hours, the Findlay Toyota Web site had detailed information about the affected models, while also pointing out 24-hour hot line phone numbers. With so many customers now utilizing the Internet for both sales and service, the quick update proved invaluable for both customers and employees.
"I went to Rich as soon as we learned about the recall," said Findlay Automotive Group Internet Manager John Taylor. "He agreed that we needed to get the information on our Web site as soon as possible. Customer safety is of the utmost importance to us."
Additionally, Abajian handled a flood of media requests from local and regional journalists seeking information about the recall. In each case, Abajian and his staff addressed the situation while also providing detailed information for customers.
A former football coach who has been with Findlay Automotive Group since 1983, Abajian agreed to every interview request.
"Long term, this is very important to address immediately," said Abajian, whose store situated in the Valley Automall has been among the top-producing dealerships in the country. "Our team works well and everyone here is first concerned that our customers are properly taken care of.
"Silence during times of trouble is what makes people feel so uneasy. It was important that we communicated with our customers and explained to them that the problem could be fixed in a timely manner to lessen their fears."
Equally important was the reaction of veteran service and parts director Roger Camperi, who has been with Toyota since 1984 and Findlay Toyota since its inception in 1998. He and his staff addressed the fact that customer vehicles on the recall list needed to be examined and/or repaired first before the dealership's for-sale vehicles could be examined.
"We all got together as soon as the recall was announced," said Camperi, whose 100-bay service area was vital to handling more than 700 customers in the first week. "Of major importance was that our service writers and operators properly communicated the situation.
"Everyone here in our department has worked through this as a team. No one has objected to having to work overtime. Our customers are first and that philosophy has showed in every one of our employees."
Camperi also pointed out that because Findlay Toyota is locally owned, the dealership did not first have to wait for approval from a corporate level. He said the ability to react quickly was very important as it related to dealing with media requests.
In fact, Camperi's keen knowledge of the Toyota brand was evident during television interviews in which he not only detailed the models affected but also explained how repairs were going to be made.
Abajian especially lauded the Findlay Toyota service department.
"The entire service department has done an incredible job," Abajian said. "This was a very sudden recall and in spite of that, the staff has responded positively."
Abajian also pointed out that the sales staff also had to adapt quickly since some of the models on the lot could not be sold until repairs had been made.
Further information can be found at www.findlaytoyota.com or by calling the Findlay Toyota hot line at 566-2596 or the Toyota Corporate Safety Recall hot line at 800-331-4331.
The dealership is offering extended hours for recalled vehicles on an appointment basis.
Findlay Toyota, which is situated at 7738 Eastgate Road in Henderson, is part of Findlay Automotive Group.