Gullo Toyota of Conroe, Texas, has been named the Toyota Certified Collision Triple Crown winner for the third consecutive year and fourth time since 2009.
Gullo earned the award over 70 other shops based on meeting Toyota’s highest standards for customer service and rigid criteria for productivity in numerous key areas of the collision business. Shops can receive a maximum of 100 points based on year-over-year sales increases, CSI and individual certification among estimators, managers, repair technicians and refinish technicians.
Gullo excels at customer service by keeping in constant contact with customers. Customers never have to reach out to Gullo because Gullo is on top of their repairs.
“You have to have at least 35 percent contact with your customers, and I think we’re somewhere in the area of 45 percent,” said Tony Gullo Jr., Gullo Toyota vice president and general manager. “All of our customers are asked how repairs were done, how quickly they were done, etc., and right now we’re at 96.5 percent CSI. We continually get honorable mention as one of the higher shops in the Gulf State region for customer satisfaction.”
Also, the dealership has been known to do minor bumper repairs for free for clients who need a quick touchup and are new to the collision process. This is a great way, Gullo and his team has found, to get referrals from family and friends.
“Mr. Gullo does so much in the community already such as charity events and Christmas for Kids, and all that plus our hometown atmosphere gets a great response from the community,” said Michael Cortez, Gullo Collision Center director.
Gullo grossed around $3 million in sales in 2014, repairing 125 cars a month. They currently are on four DRPs: Allstate, State Farm, Safeco and Nationwide.
“When competitors came along three years ago, we lost some insurance business to them,” said Cortez. “But if you do an excellent job on first-time repairs and make sure you inspect the vehicle properly before it leaves, that’s a big key to getting that business back. Plus, we find that more people prefer the dealership. Toyota owners are much more loyal than most other car owners, and it has proven itself this year more than last.”
Gullo Jr. notes, “Mike and his team do a great job of developing a rapport with adjusters, and I think that is critical in competing with MSOs. It also helps when these adjusters see we’re serious about what we’re doing and about making sure our customers are taken care of. We want to get the car done as quickly as possible but also make sure the quality of work is there as customers and insurers desire. We’ve proven we’re capable and we have the customer’s interest at heart in everything we do.”
As far as tackling the technician shortage, Gullo has largely avoided the problem by promoting from within, maintaining close ties with local schools and having an engaged owner who cares about his people.
“We work for a family-owned dealer with an on-site owner who is involved with his employees,” said Cortez. “It’s not just about the money or business. The Gullo family cares deeply about their associates, and that’s why they stick around. It’s not unusual for us to have a 15- to 20-year employee, which is almost unheard of in the car business now.”
He notes that five of Gullo’s techs started as porters. “You stay here two years as a porter and are responsible and dedicated and you will get the opportunity to go to a week-long collision school for structural or non-structural or paint.”
“We also communicate career opportunities to local schools and tell them they don’t have to go the route of paying $25,000 for a year of training at a technical school. We tell them if they stay with us and do well they’ll have the opportunity to get the same on-the-job training as they would have at trade school.
“Winning the Triple Crown is a commitment to education, and a lot of our techs realize that,” continues Cortez. “We want them to go to the technical training schools that Toyota provides for us so they get the right kind of training in order to be successful. We don’t just ask them to learn how to be a body man or painter through osmosis.”
Gullo credits Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes as well for its success for being a partner more than just a paint supplier.
“They have helped us in many ways,” says Cortez. “Their service is bar none. If we have a paint problem or match problem, they’re out the same day that, in turn with the quality of paint, is invaluable. We partnered with them and they helped us get two downdraft prep stations, plus we have a tool account with them so if we need certain things, we get additional funds to purchase other equipment.” Per Gullo Jr., “On top of that, they help with our charity programs. They’re a great team and we’re appreciative of them.”
Gullo will receive their award at an upcoming ceremony at the owner’s private museum of antique vehicles. In a heavily consolidated market, Gullo has held its own due to the relationships it has fostered with vehicle owners and insurers.
“It’s a wonderful annual event for us, and we’re very thankful of it and don’t take it for granted,” says Tony Jr. “It will be a great time.”
Travis W. Rice, Gulf States Toyota manager of collision operations concludes: “Gulf States Toyota is very proud of the Gullo organization and family. They work hard not just for the award but the customer’s satisfaction and getting the customer back to where they need to be with their damaged cars. They are the epitome of what the Toyota brand is all about.”