I adore my Toyota Sienna. I never thought I’d be a “mini-van mom,” but the practicality and reliability of this workhorse vehicle can’t be denied. It fits my school-work-store-soccer lifestyle perfectly. While my van is as reliable as they come, it still needs oil changes, tire rotations and the occasional service appointment for routine checkups. For these, I visit Toyota of Olympia. It was during one of these recent appointments – the 120,000-mile service – that Calvin Singleton, assistant service manager on the Green Team, demonstrated the true meaning of service.
It was first thing in the morning when I dropped my van at the new Tumwater location and a co-worker swung by to pick me up. I let Calvin know I needed my van by 3:00 p.m. to pick up my kids from school and commence with the afternoon’s activities. Calvin reviewed the list of services happening that day and agreed to check in later. One of the routine services at 120,000 was the replacement of my spark plugs. What wasn’t quite so routine is the extremely difficult location of those pesky spark plugs.
When I checked in with Calvin later, he informed me that the techs were going to be digging deep into my engine in order to access the plugs. As a dad himself, Calvin understood exactly what not having my car back before the 3:30 p.m. school pick up time meant and the impact of having no car could mean for a busy parent. Instead of excuses, Calvin offered solutions. He had the techs wrap up the service and had my van ready at 3:00 p.m. as promised, but the spark plugs still needed completion.
Calvin’s solution? He came all the way to my Boston Harbor house early the next morning on the Toyota courtesy shuttle, before he was scheduled to arrive at work, then personally drove my van to Toyota’s new Tumwater location. The spark plug replacement was completed and he brought my Sienna back to my home, parked it in the garage and handed me the keys. All before noon. It was even washed and vaccummed.
This is service.
And this is the norm at Toyota of Olympia.
What I learned was Calvin exemplifies the Toyota of Olympia philosophy of putting people first. The service department staff truly were concerned about my situation and did everything in their power to help, as if I was one of their own family. And, when you are a customer of Toyota of Olympia, you really are part of the family.
After nearly a decade with Les Schwab, Calvin became part of the Toyota “family” three years ago. His time at the family-owned tire store built in him a spirit of service that is continued at Toyota. “I’ve always been around cars,” says Calvin. “And this was a natural next step for me.”
Calvin is married with two children – five-year-old Daniel and two-year-old Maleah. The family man loves his kids and realized “the hard way that I needed to put family first.” This realization led him to Toyota of Olympia.
“I absolutely love being here,” he shares. “I love talking to people, learning about their lives, hearing their stories. I must talk to 20 or 30 people a day and every single story is different. I want to hear each and every one.”
He shares a handful of his stories with me: the mom whose husband is deployed and is juggling it all; the newlyweds building a fresh, new life; the widow learning about her vehicle alone for the first time; the customer who drives in from Aberdeen, just to see their Toyota “friends.”
Together with his Green Team partners, Tony and Eli, Calvin looks to teach inform each customer, all the while really listening to their needs. “We always tell our customers the truth, no matter the money situation. We won’t sell them something they don’t need, and we’ll always try and give them the best value,” he shares. “Often, if you just listen, you’ll hear what the customer really needs and sometimes it’s more than an oil change, it’s a bit of understanding and compassion, too.”
The “people first” philosophy is taught from the top down. “Of course, like with any business, the bottom line matters,” admits Calvin. “But, at Toyota, we really care more about the customer relationship and how people feel when they leave here. Joe reflects that down to us. And when people feel good about their service, they return. They become part of the family.”
Joe McCorkle, Toyota of Olympia’s general manager, is who Calvin is referring to. Joe leads by example to ensure customers know they are valued and a positive experience is number one for everyone on staff.
I stopped in again just the other day to see Calvin for a warranty enhancement on my sliding door, something Calvin had alerted me to at the 120,000 service and had ordered the parts in advance. The process couldn’t have been smoother and I was back to kids, carpool and chaos in no time. And, as always, they vaccummed all the goldfish crackers up for me, too.
Visit Toyota of Olympia at their new Tumwater location at 6969 Tyee Drive S.W. or call them direct to book your next service appointment at 360-539-4000.