Located in one of the largest car markets in the U.S., Toyota of Cedar Park has achieved incredible success in Texas, navigating a pandemic, rising interest rates, work shortages, and inventory hurdles with apparent ease. But even as the company celebrates its achievements, it is also taking steps to grow its business, underscoring the ongoing vitality of the retail automotive sector.
On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Julie Herrera, dealer principal at Toyota of Cedar Park, president of the Idea Auto Group, and retailer principal of the newly opened City Limits Subaru. Herrera is an experienced retailer and visionary leader with a track record of heading thriving dealerships. Not only has she guided multiple businesses to success, but she has also been a vital source of strategy and expertise to her local retail automotive community as its members keep up with the intensely competitive market in Texas. Now, she discusses her insights into the car sector and the moves she is taking to ensure her company continues to grow.
1. Six years ago, Toyota of Cedar Park collaborated with Texas educators to create an automotive tech course. The program has been a vital recruitment source for the dealership, which currently employs 37 technicians from local high schools.
2. Toyota of Cedar Park is on pace to sell 14,000 units in 2023, an increase of 11% from last year. Herrera attributes the success to the growth of the market in Texas despite rising interest rates and high prices.
3. Herrera was allowed to open a Subaru sister location in Texas. Now open, City Limits Subaru features a massive showroom and 57 service bays.
4. Herrera was surprised to see comparatively slow electric vehicle demand in her local market, given Tesla’s substantial presence within her state. However, Toyota of Cedar Park has seen hybrid sales rise sharply as a consequence of the automotive industry’s push for electrification.
5. To increase the number of women in the retail automotive sector, Herrera urges dealers to continue inviting female professionals to the industry. While diversity has certainly improved, more work needs to be done.
"I've really spent a lot of time recruiting and retaining and training talent. And when that talent knows they have an opportunity to potentially partner in that business and have skin in the game? I'm gonna tell you what: they'll jump through hoops to work with you." Julie Herrera