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South Canterbury Toyota takes top honours at Toyota dealer awards

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South Canterbury Toyota, based in Timaru, was named Toyota Dealer of the Year at Toyota New Zealand's Annual Dealer Awards for 2019, held in Dunedin on Saturday.

The Dealer of the Year is awarded for overall excellence in dealership operations, market leadership and dealership facilities. There is stiff competition for the supreme Dealer of Year Award among the 64 Toyota and Lexus dealers, spread from Whangarei to Invercargill.

South Canterbury Toyota, which is part of the McDermid Auto Collective that operates four other South Island Toyota dealerships, employs 36 people who are committed to delivering the best sales and service experience every day.

“The Toyota Dealer of the Year award really reflects all the hard work the team have put in over the last year,” says Craig McDermid, Chief Operating Officer of McDermid Auto Collective.

“We are proud to be part of our local community and are so glad that we were able to bring this award home for them.” 

Steve Prangnell, Toyota’s General Manager Franchise Development and Used Vehicles, says “the awards celebrate the vital contribution of the dealerships to the ongoing trust and loyalty in the Toyota brand in New Zealand.”

“In early 2018 we changed the way we sold vehicles to remove some ‘bothers’ that new vehicle buyers told us about. We offered a haggle-free set price for all our new vehicles and pulled all stock from dealers back to central hubs. This freed up the dealers to do what they are best at – being the product expert and building customer relationships.”

“With the Dealer Awards, we acknowledge the support of the dealers across the network. What is really satisfying is that, despite the change of sales model, our dealers delivered a record sales year in 2018 and another strong year in 2019,” he says.

South Canterbury Toyota also won the President’s Trophy for outstanding customer service. The Excellence in Leadership Award was awarded to Ebbett Toyota for exemplary leadership in the advancement of the dealership’s people and the franchise.

Other awards went to Bowater Toyota for Parts & Accessories Excellence, Tasman Toyota for Service Excellence, Hawkes Bay Toyota for Toyota Financial Services Dealer of the Year and New Vehicle Excellence, King Toyota for Branch Dealer of the Year, Manukau Toyota for Used Vehicle Excellence and Lexus of Wellington was named Lexus Dealer of the Year.

“Having clear Awards criteria gives dealers targets to aim for, and every year the competition seems to be more intense as dealers aim for continuous improvement,” Mr Prangnell says.

An example of continuous improvement was the achievement of all 64 Toyota and Lexus dealerships gaining Toitū Enviro-Mark Diamond certification in 2019. The certification was the result of nine years of work on environmental initiatives.

Toitū Enviro-Mark Diamond certified organisations have a robust environmental management system in place to identify significant impacts, develop internal plans to prevent or reduce those impacts, and find opportunities for improvement.

“As the brand which has nearly a quarter of all vehicles on New Zealand’s roads, Toyota takes its responsibilities to customers and the environment very seriously. Our retail team attaining Enviro-Mark Diamond certification is a significant achievement and demonstrates their desire to protect New Zealand’s environment,” Mr Prangnell says.