Weeks before the new Ebbett Toyota store opened in Te Rapa, Hamilton, builders noted that visitors were already pulling into the massive site to see if the latest Toyota or Lexus was available. Construction at the Kahu Crescent property was obviously still under way but the visibility of the Ebbett Toyota branding was already generating excitement.
Hearing about the premature visits is music to James Harvey’s ears. The Waikato chief executive of Ebbett Toyota says with the showroom’s opening on March 26, Toyota is at last able to deliver customers the experience they deserve.
He says for some years now Toyota has outgrown its central city site on the corner of Tristram and London Streets.
“For me, this move to Te Rapa Park puts Toyota back on the map in the Waikato community,” he says.
“Our staff has done an amazing job over the years, but it has not been easy on a relatively small site. Now they have a better tool to be able to deliver an even better experience to customers.”
James is also excited at the long-awaited return of the distinguished Lexus brand to Hamilton with the addition of a self contained Lexus showroom at the site.
Ebbett Toyota’s new site within view of The Base shopping centre is nearly double the size of the past site – 11,000 square metres compared with 5700 square metres – and also features a hugely streamlined customer experience, an extended workshop and plenty of space for car parking. There were 28 customer car parks in the city site whereas the new Ebbett Toyota site has 110.
“At the last site our service department alone was seeing 70 customers a day. On top of that we had people coming in for parts, to buy cars or collect their new cars. So the congestion there was phenomenal.”
“People in this day and age are so busy so it’s all about ease of use and accessibility. The new showroom provides a great flow for customer experience.”
The new Ebbett Toyota complex features a café, neatly situated between Toyota and Lexus showrooms which James says will be extremely popular with customers and visitors alike.
“It’s a customer café but open to everyone. I’m sure businesses around here will enjoy being able to visit.
There are not many cafes in the area.” He says the café also provides a nice “neutral zone” between the two showrooms and a place where customers can take time out and relax.
He’s also delighted with the dealership’s new location, just off the Boulevard and with a number of other car dealerships close by, providing great choice for visitors. The close proximity of The Base and the crowds of shoppers it draws is also a bonus.
James says architects Chow:Hill worked closely with him and put a lot of time into the design and flow of the building.
“We were trying to understand what it is like for the customer when they drive in,” says James. “Where do you park and how do you find your way through the building?”
When Toyota customers drive in they look straight at the main drop-off point. Every new Toyota model sits on the front yard available for customers to test drive. The showroom features three delivery bays and the complex features an 18-bay workshop including two “express bays” which can throughput 25 vehicles a day each. The entire complex including the workshop is air conditioned and heated in winter.
Customers will also notice a different look and a warmer feel to the Toyota showroom, moving slightly away from the usual Toyota Corporate Identity of white walls and grey tiles. Chow:Hill’s design has incorporated a touch of green to the carpets and a warmer looking colour of tiles.
He says Ebbett Toyota’s additions to the Corporate Identity are now available to other showrooms to introduce.
James acknowledges Foster Construction’s professionalism in bringing the project in ahead of the deadline.
“I often look at their tag line ‘We begin with the end in mind’ and for me that rings so true. I can’t speak highly enough of them. The whole time they never wavered about when it was going to be delivered. And they delivered it early.”
Opening the new showroom on March 26 is a big moment and James is looking forward to the reaction from customers. He says customer satisfaction is paramount.
“I never want to be in that space where customers don’t have a great experience with us. I think this new showroom opens up people’s eyes. Customer’s expectations will be higher here and they will expect us to deliver on it. I’m sure we will do that.”