Toyota of Westport had a checkered reputation. Some customers swore by them. Others swore at them.
New owners re-named the dealership “New Country Toyota of Westport” — what is it, an emerging African nation? — but the changes go beyond the front door.
The high, imposing desk that separated service agents — sitting, Oz-like, in their own world — from lowly customers is gone. In its place are low, friendly desks, the kind bankers now use. (Not the best analogy, I know, but you get the picture.)
My appointment was 8 a.m. On the dot, my car was whisked into a bay — another new concept for the dealership.
And not only did service consultant Jessica Sandri arrange a courtesy ride home — she offered to bring me back too.
When I’m ready to buy a new car, I’ll start at New Country. Unfortunately, thanks to Toyota’s reputation for quality, that will be around 2019.
You may be able to surround property with something uglier than a chain link fence, but I don’t know how.
This one appeared at the foot of Long Lots Road, where it runs into the Post Road, a day or so ago. I knew the Toyota dealership used to park cars there — a few steps away from their lot — so I gave them a call.
Tom Coppinger, general manager of New Country Toyota, quickly explained that those cars belonged to the previous owner: Crabtree Toyota. They were parked on a month-t0-month rental — but it was a non-conforming use, so the new owners had to stop.
Tom had noticed the “Space Available” sign by the fence, and hoped to use it to expand. But it backs up to residential property, so he’d never get approval. He’s looking “all over town,” he said, for space.
So, I wondered: Is Toyota a dealership that — defying all automotive trends — is doing well?”
“Not fantastic,” Tom admitted. “We’ve reduced staff. But we’re certainly busy. Our Land Cruiser and Sequoias — the biggest models — are not doing well. But all the other brands are.
“It’s not the best of times, but we’re holding our own.”
So keep your eye out for a spot where New Country Toyota can move. And let’s see which new bank — I mean, building — ends up on one of the last remaining open parcels of Post Road land.
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