Reputation is one of the hardest things to shake off in this judgmental world we live in. You’d have a far easier time removing the stain of achuete seeds than shedding the image you’ve formed in the minds of people through the years. You could be the holiest person in your village right now, but we assure you there are still individuals in your neighborhood talking about that one time you crashed your car due to drunk-driving—a transgression you committed more than a decade ago.
In the automotive business, a similar thing is true: Car dealerships are often viewed as unscrupulous and profit-oriented companies that employ dishonest workers who are always looking to make a quick buck at the expense of unsuspecting customers. This bad reputation is exactly the reason many vehicle owners would now rather go to a small talyer than bring their precious wheels to the casa. Countless stories—some of them even documented on video—have spooked them enough to make them swear off proper dealerships.
It is against this backdrop that the Oben Group—which owns and operates such dealers as Toyota Balintawak and Toyota Otis—is working hard to erase the stigma brought about by unprincipled businessmen and technicians. It is with this imputation that the organization has opened another dealership facility, Toyota San Jose del Monte in Bulacan, the fifth dealer branch in the group’s growing stable.
Last October 9th, Toyota San Jose del Monte formally opened its doors to Toyota customers living in the most progressive city in the province of Bulacan. A number of infrastructure projects in the area are being carried out left and right, ensuring that you will hardly recognize this town in just two years’ time. In terms of Toyota sales, San Jose del Monte also happens to have the biggest slice in all of Bulacan. To say that this city needs and deserves its own dealership is an understatement.
Toyota San Jose del Monte is another jewel in the business portfolio of the Oben Group, whose leader and chairman, Atty. Reginaldo Oben, is one of the most loved and respected dealer principals not only within the Toyota network but also around the entire Philippine car industry.
“Since we started the car dealership business with Toyota Balintawak, Bulacan has always been a market for us,” Atty. Oben explains. “When Toyota officially opened the market for an area in Bulacan, we applied immediately. This became Toyota Marilao. And when Toyota again opened the market for San Jose del Monte, we likewise applied for the dealership. Bulacan has always been a very important market for us. A large part of our sales comes from Bulacan. We are confident that we will ultimately be successful here in San Jose del Monte City.”
Atty. Oben’s son, Don Juan Miguel “Cosco” Oben, who serves as the Oben Group’s president, shares the logic behind that confidence: “There’s a lot of progress happening now in San Jose del Monte. A lot of developments—in fact, too many to mention. There’s a lot of infrastructural improvements. Give it two years and the local economy will have such big growth. Throughout said growth, Toyota San Jose del Monte will be there. And we will ensure that as we grow with the economy, we will give back to the community and try to make better lives for all the people this side of the province.”
In his speech during the dealership’s inauguration, Oben talked about their so-called “Best in Town” philosophy:
As the Oben Group strives to achieve its ultimate goal to be the most trusted and reliable group of automotive dealerships in the country, we recognize the wisdom of Mr. Akio Toyoda as he said: “Everyone says Toyota is the best company in the world, but the customer does not care about the world. They care if we are the best in town or not.” Indeed, what really matters is the quality of service the dealership provides, and the customers’ relationship with the dealership in their corner of the world. With TMP’s guidance and the customer service-driven culture of all our team members, I am very positive that TSJ will bring excellence in our service to meet our ever-changing customer expectations, and thus be the best dealership in this corner of the region.
Committed to serving a community of around 600,000 people, Toyota San Jose del Monte sits on a property that measures 5,994sq-m. You won’t miss the newly constructed edifice along Quirino Highway, with an expansive facility that boasts a total floor area of 11,594sq-m.
When you walk into the showroom and come into contact with a TSJ employee for the first time, one thing is instantly noticeable: There is lightness and cheerfulness in the air. “A pleasant good morning, sir,” comes the greeting that’s inspired by the nearby Pleasant Hills Subdivision.
The hospitality doesn’t end in the greeting. Every person working at this dealership looks and sounds happy to see and serve you. Even the customers’ lounge is designed to make you want to stay (mostly because it has a large TV screen and a luxurious massage chair). There is an atmosphere of family here—as opposed to the glum, businesslike mood you’ve come to associate with a typical car dealership.
Perhaps the most crucial part of any car dealership is its after-sales service department. It is here where most (if not all) customer complaints originate. At Toyota San Jose del Monte, this aspect of the business is of paramount importance.
“We are the servants of our customers,” Atty. Oben says. “They want to give you their business, so you have to cater to what they want. Be honest to people. Be transparent. And be humble. Humility is the secret of our success.”
Toyota San Jose del Monte takes pride in having 35 service bays and the capacity to serve 24 to 36 vehicles for express maintenance, 14 vehicles for periodic maintenance and 21 vehicles for general jobs. There are also seven booths for body paint. The whole area is clean and well-lit, and the tools are neatly arranged—clear signs that the technicians will take excellent care of your car.
You might say you’ve heard all of this before. You might even recall encountering the same promises from other dealerships. At TSJ, however, doing things the right way is a way of life, not some slogan printed on framed posters.
Cosco Oben once told VISOR that all the Oben Group dealerships live by these eight core values:
- Professionalism and integrity;
- Respect and recognition;
- Teamwork and unity;
- Drive; and
We particularly like the eighth core value, the only one rendered in Filipino. They could have simply said “concern.” But no, the right word for this organization is “malasakit.” It’s the one value that the leadership wants everyone in the group to understand and assimilate. Malasakit toward each other and indeed malasakit toward the customer. This is not just a business. This is like the School of Life, where you treat others exactly as you expect them to treat you. Where employees need and want to do right by every single client that comes their way, because their bosses also do right by them.
We distinctly remember what Cosco Oben said to us: “Happy employees translate to happy customers.” Or take care of your people and they will take care of your business.
Toyota San Jose del Monte general manager Maria Lourdes Geronimo proudly discloses that many workers in their company have been around for more than two decades, a testament to how management takes care of the whole team. So much so that she calls the dealership the “second home” of over 140 employees.
“The principals are all employee-oriented,” asserts Geronimo. “They do what’s good not only for the company but also for the employees. If we delight our employees, they will also delight our customers.”
The Oben Group’s humanitarian side so pervades the dealership that even the latter’s canteen employs student scholars of San Jose del Monte City. Meanwhile, something as seemingly inconsequential as a shower room for technicians is prioritized at TSJ. The technical workers’ locker room and bathroom are nicely finished, bearing no signs whatsoever of cost-cutting (as is usually the case).
Perhaps just as important as taking care of its employees and customers, Toyota San Jose del Monte strives to protect the environment. For instance, the facility has waste-water treatment, with treated water providing 80% of the property’s water requirement (including the water needed for washing all the vehicles). There are also 324 solar panels on the roof, producing 100kW of free solar power energy. Surely, a dealership this conscientious exists to please its customers.
“There has always been a negative stereotype in the auto industry,” Cosco Oben admits. “It’s that every time customers come to a dealership, they think that they will have a bad experience. What we want to do is erase that negative stereotype. We aim to do that for all Oben Group dealerships, most especially for Toyota San Jose del Monte.”
Don’t take this article at face value. Go to this dealership and experience firsthand the difference a positive and people-oriented culture makes. It’s time to realize that not all car dealerships are created equal—precisely because not all car dealerships are managed and run the right way.
This branded article was produced in partnership with Oben Group Toyota.