Loughborough University
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Loughborough University

Innovative Manufacturing and Construction Research Centre

High performance models

Top car manufacturer Toyota wanted to create a problem-solving tool for their retail environment. Their aim was to improve dealer operations, efficiency and customer purchase experiences. They turned to the IMCRC’s Professor Jim Saker and his team, to support the initiative.

Professor Saker was invited by Toyota Motor Europe to research the impact of applying Toyota values, and their renowned Toyota Production System (TPS) principles, to a number of their independent European retailers. The challenge was to see how systematic problem solving could be applied to the process of customer interaction.

A series of ‘retail labs’ were set up in Cardiff, Brussels and Madrid where Toyota’s core principles were tested in a retail context during a twelve month period. They focused on a range of retail issues, from customer service, showroom layout and design, to test-drive booking processes.

The support of the IMCRC has been invaluable. They always underpin the research with robust academic methodology and techniques. The team helps challenge what we do and, as a result, we develop better ways of going forward.

Lana Gacinovic, ManagerLe Rendez–Vous Toyota

The research team measured human behaviour through interviews and surveys, and used CCTV to record customer/retailer interaction. They also investigated how to apply the Toyota values across different national cultures.

Results from the retail labs were analysed and fed back into the Plan-Do- Check-Act process improvement model. From this, a Toyota Retail System (TRS) website was established featuring problem-solving tools and best practice. This was made available to the Toyota Retail Network.

In the next phase of the research, the IMCRC is supporting leading edge work at the company’s brand flagship Le Rendez-Vous Toyota (LRVT), in Paris. LRVT provides Toyota with a unique insight into customer behaviour. They can get instant feedback on their strategy from the hundreds of visitors to the showroom. This feedback is vital to the way Toyota works to improve its products and services.

Want to know more? Contact Professor Jim Saker

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