Toyota of Manhattan Supports Breast Cancer Awareness

nbcam_pink_ribbonDuring the month of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month), Jason Schroeck led the way for Toyota of Manhattan to collect donations from their customers, employees, fans and friends. The total donations collected was $550 and then Toyota of Manhattan matched the amount to make a total of $1,200. We donated the amount to the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. On Thursday, December 15, 2011 Tierre Simpson , Development Coordinator at the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, stopped by Toyota of Manhattan to accept the total donation and say a few words.

Jason Schroeck; Social Media & Web Manager, Toyota of Manhattan, Tierre Simpson; Development Coordinator, Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Steve Kritikos; GM, Toyota of Manhattan, Kristine; Motor Vehicle, Toyota of Manhattan, Chris Mignano; GSM, Toyota of Manhattan, Vicki Reina, Office Manager, Toyota of Manhattan — at Toyota of Manhattan, 645 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10036

Jason Schroeck; Social Media & Web Manager, Toyota of Manhattan, Tierre Simpson; Development Coordinator, Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Steve Kritikos; GM, Toyota of Manhattan, Kristine Hoff; Motor Vehicle, Toyota of Manhattan, Chris Mignano; GSM, Toyota of Manhattan, Vicki Reina, Office Manager, Toyota of Manhattan — at Toyota of Manhattan, 645 11th Avenue, New York, NY 10036

Boy’s Family to Receive Handicapped-Accessible Vehicle from Toyota of Manhattan & Bay Ridge Toyota

The holiday season is upon us and this is the time that we were taught as children, that we should do a selfless deed. I remember as a child shoveling snow from my elderly neighbor’s walkway and stairs, and then being offered money in return for my kindness.  I still remember the look on their faces as I said “thank you for the offer, but I cannot accept your money” I gave them a hug and walked away. To this day, I can still recall the proud, amazing feeling I was left with in my heart after helping that elderly couple with no expectation of anything in return. From that day on, it became a regular part of my life, to assist them in any way that I could. Unfortunately, years passed, and so did they. What I wouldn’t give to be able to give myself to someone who really needs a service like that again. A couple of hour’s out of my life, a feeling like no other.

As we get older we seem to lose sight of the little things that we can do on a daily basis, to help make someone else’s life a little easier.  I understand that these days, with the condition of the economy, most of us are not in the position to make a large financial gift to someone in need. I also understand that it’s hard enough to find the time to get 6 hours of sleep, let alone 8 on a daily basis. Forget about finding the time to walk down to your local soup kitchen and offer your services. It’s not that we don’t want to, we just can’t figure out how to.  We can however start off small. How about something as simple as smiling at someone when you pass them on the street, or lend an ear to a co-worker when they look down in the dumps. Maybe you can give up your seat on the bus to that person that looks a little more tired than you feel, or maybe you can help a neighbor shovel their walkway. You never know, it could make a world of difference to them. Maybe it will change their day; maybe it’ll change their lives. Hey, maybe it’ll change yours…


December 7, 2011
For Immediate Release

Allison Witty (Hikind) |  718-853-9616 |917-685-6787

Joe Ciaccia (Bay Ridge Toyota) | 347-415-9497

Jason Schroeck (Toyota of Manhattan) | 908-644-6801




Just in time for the holiday season, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) has teamed up with Bay Ridge Toyota and Toyota of Manhattan to present a 2012 Toyota Sienna Mobility Edition van valued at close to $50,000 to the family of 12-year-old Alter Pinter. Alter’s legs were amputated last year after he nearly lost his battle with a vicious case of swine flu which raged through his entire body and spread to his legs. He has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.

Hikind and representatives from Toyota will be on hand next Monday at a ceremony to present the vehicle to the Pinter family and to hand over the keys. “It’s easy to become cynical in today’s world,” said Hikind. “What Toyota has done is a shining example of the humanity that can and still does exist in the world. I am awed by their generosity, and am hopeful that other individuals and corporations will follow their example to help improve the quality of life for someone less fortunate. This is about different communities coming together to make a significant difference.”

Echoing Hikind’s sentiments, Jason Schroeck, Social Media and Web Manager for Toyota of Manhattan said, “This is about reaching beyond our community to help others. It’s about the season for giving. But more importantly, it’s about a child and family in need. The families at Bay Ridge Toyota and Toyota of Manhattan hope that through our donation, we can somehow make life a little easier, and bring a smile to the face of such a wonderful little boy and his family in this difficult time of their lives.”

Hikind was initially approached by Mekimi CEO Chesky Kauftheil about the Pinter family. Mekimi (, which provides a host of support services to children and young adults who are combating cancer and other life-threatening illnesses, has been working extensively to help the Pinter family. “Mr. Kauftheil said to me, ‘is there anything we can do to help this family get a handicapped-accessible vehicle?’” Hikind recalled. ‘“Right now the only way to get Alter into the family car is to carry him from his wheelchair into the car. It’s very upsetting to him and the whole family.’”

Soon after, Hikind met with the boy and his family to ascertain their exact needs and immediately contacted Mr. John Giuffre of the Bay Ridge Automotive Group to ask for his assistance. “It was a no-brainer for him,” remarked Hikind. “He said he just had to work out the logistics, but that he would have the car ready for the family within three weeks. He was nothing short of remarkable. John is truly the hero of this story.”

“Mekimi is extremely grateful to Assemblyman Hikind and to all the executives at Toyota who helped make getting a handicapped-accessible van for Alter a reality,” said Mr. Kauftheil. “None of this would be possible without the immense generosity and kindness of Bay Ridge Toyota and Toyota of Manhattan. There are no words to express our tremendous gratitude.”

The ceremony will take place on Monday, December 12, at 11 AM in the parking lot adjacent to Mekimi Headquarters at 1463 42nd Street in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Lock. Load. Engage.

Auto_Dealer_Social_Network_SmallOK. So you have your social media presence set up. You’re on the right track. You are on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TUMBLR, Flickr and wherever else you have found.

Now we have to build your fan base and followers. How do we do that? Through engagement, that’s how. Engagement is a tricky process, but will have great rewards if you do it right.

Engagement in this regard, means the interaction between the follower/fan and the dealership. Often it is a daunting task, but once it gets rolling, it will most likely steamroll, as long as you stick with it and continue to encourage engagement through creative ideas. I will be discussing things I personally have done in the past that have worked well. I invite you to try them and build from them. These will get you started and from there, you will hopefully run with it in a creative direction of your own.

Lock. Load. Engage. 

Firstly, contests are a great way to reward your followers. It’s also a terrific way to add followers. Have contests where the entrant must like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter in order to qualify. Make sure the contest is fun and that the prize is rewarding. The bigger the prize, the more chance you have at earning the interest of new followers. A free oil change as a prize may earn you, say, 10 new followers while an iPad may earn you 500 new followers. Examples of some contests to do are: Recipe contest. Photo contest (Pets, Kids, Your make car, etc …). Fan of the Week contest. Get creative with it. The more fun and easier it is, the more interaction you will get.

I am a big fan of humanization of the dealership in social media. Car dealerships and auto sales associates are often spoken with and thought of with negative connotations. You can change that view of your followers. Show them you are “humans” like them. Show them you can have fun at your job. Tasteful humor is often a great ice-breaker in many situations. (I will go into that a little later.) How do you show them you are human? One of my favorites is candid shots. Employees of the dealership being photographed while working, doing fun stuff, extra-curricular activities (business appropriate) such as a sports league or work related event. These kinds of photos help show you are “real people” just like the customers, show you can have some fun and often strike up conversation and engagement. I’ve actually been told by co-workers that customers have been in the dealership and mentioned the pictures I took of them and uploaded to Facebook.

Everyone has seen the GM or Sales Associate on video telling them about themselves. Try something different. I have done in the past, “Get To Know Our Staff” segments, where the fan/follower, customer, employee, etc … ask the questions. I would take say the GM. Post his picture, name and position out there and have your followers ask questions of that person that they might want to know. Questions can range from “What is your favorite color?” to position specific questions like “How do I check my oil” for a service technician. The questions are then collected and asked of this employee while they answer on video. This is an interactive video where the customers are involved and helps them connect with individuals at your dealership. This was a success during the time that I ran it.

These are just a few successful methods I’ve used. Don’t be afraid to be creative. If you are a social media manager for your dealership or workplace, come up with some fun ideas and run them by your management team to get their approval, and get up and running!

  • this article was published in Social Dealership Magazine

So you want to be social?

facebook_fan_pageA few years ago, there were countless dealerships and automotive people saying “Social media is just a ‘fad’ and won’t last.” Well, it’s still here and it’s lasted. The dealerships that thought out of the box and jumped on board are reaping the benefits of it while the other dealerships are now scrambling and trying to create a social media presence. Sure, not every dealership did it well. Some made mistakes and had to learn from them. Some are better at it than others. The more willing and creative these dealerships and their Social Media Managers are, the more chance at success they have.

What are you talking about Jay? I created my Facebook page years ago. – Creating a social media presence is more than just creating the profiles and occasionally making some posts. Being social is about engaging and interacting with your audience on a regular basis: your customers, your potential customers, your fans and friends. You are creating online relationships. The best way for you to establish this is to have a person or team in charge of this responsibility. Hire a Social Media Manager (aka Community Manager), add it as a responsibility to your Internet Department or hire an outside company that specializes in Social Media.

Social Media has become a part of our everyday life for most and with the ease of access through smart phones & tablets, more people are on it and more frequently. Creating and maintaining a social media presence is about getting your name out there (brand awareness) and connecting with people. Use it to create and establish relationships with customers and potential customers. Use it as a customer relations tool. Manage your online reputation with it. Many use Twitter and Facebook to voice their opinion about an experience at a dealership, wouldn’t it be nice to show some feedback? Thank them for their business and positive feedback. Answer back quickly and try to resolve complaints. Use it to showcase your staff and vehicles (in a social & fun way). Run contests and be active in the community.

If you are not currently utilizing social media to its advantage, I would suggest starting off with the “Big 3” as I would like to call them. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Auto_Dealer_Social_Network_SmallFacebook is currently the largest and most popular social media website. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest country in the World. I would strongly suggest starting here. Create and maintain a profile and/or fan page. Here you can share status messages, links, photos & videos. This is where you can most easily interact with customers and find potential customers.

Twitter is a “micro-blog” social media website where you post status updates within 140 characters or less. It may take some getting used to with the character limit, but if done right, it is a very effective way of getting your message out there. Communication and conversation is key.

YouTube is a video sharing website that is highly searchable being owned by Google. You are going to want to create fun, short, quality videos with a great title containing a few important, relevant keywords and relevant “tags”. Viral content can spread fast, so make sure your video is portraying the message you want it to in a fun and/or educational way.

Just please remember, Social Media is “social” … A one-sided conversation will have people tuning you out. Converse, interact, engage.

  • this article was published in Social Dealership Magazine

Turn a Negative Review into a Positive

With all these online review sites popping up all over the place, many businesses and companies are so afraid of the negative reviews. Embrace the negativity. The negative reviews are, believe it or not, a good thing.

Online Negative ReviewPrior to these online review sites, people would often complain and/or give negative reviews through word-of-mouth to their friends and family. It was nearly impossible to track. Once a customer was lost, the majority of the time the company had no idea.

Now, the negative reviews and lost customers are out there and are right in front of you. If you manage your online reputation properly, you will see them in real-time and will know when it happens. You now have more of a chance to reach out to them, correct the situation and hopefully bring them back as customers.

Negative reviews happen for many reasons. Bad experience, customer felt unappreciated, the employee was having a bad day, the customer was having a bad day, the manager didn’t resolve a problem properly, etc … Whatever it is, most of the time, if handled properly, reaching out to a customer that has left a negative review, and/or resolving the problem with a viable solution and maybe some kind of reward for bringing the matter to your attention or for their inconvenience will change their mind.

Facebook Photos Gets A Flickr Makeover

facebook logo.pngFacebook Photos is receiving a makeover. Improvements include hi-res photos, photo-download links, bulk tagging options and an elegant lightbox interface for viewing images from anywhere on the site. These upgrades will more than likely help Facebook Photos compete with Flickr. Flickr has had the advantage over Facebook for quite some time, due to the fact that Facebook photos were best for capturing memories of places, people and events through small images and mobile snapshots. With the changes, Facebook Photos will more than likely attract photographers, models, graphic design portfolios and others that want to display their portfolios to the world.

Photos will be uploaded and downloaded in sizes up to 2048 pixels wide or high, compared to the current 720 pixels that larger photos get resized to. Each photo will now also have a link to download the Hi-Res JPEG files.

The site’s new bulk tagging options will allow the uploading individual to temporarily group images and tag friends by simply clicking on thumbnails.

The lightbox user interface will now be displayed anywhere on Facebook you clock an image. In your News Feed, in an album, on your friend’s Wall. A hovering black box displays the photo with minimal navigation controls and relevant social features.

facebook lightbox

Now, while this is an upgrade from the current Facebook Photos, a few questions come to my mind. With the hi-res photos being uploaded and displayed, the download capability and the amount of new users this might attract, will Facebook servers be able to handle it? Will it strain the servers and slow down the speed of the sometimes already slow site?

We also hope that there is a privacy setting where you can prevent your pictures from being downloaded. Will we as users be able to opt-in or out of the hi-res upload and download feature?

Source: Mashable

New Company Profiles on LinkedIn

linkedin1.jpgEarlier this year, LinkedIn gave users the ability to follow companies in addition to following users. Originally, to follow a company profile on LinkedIn, was much like company pages on Facebook. You were able to receive a stream of news and information from the companies that you chose to follow.

Now, users can the follow how the company has grown on the site over time, as well as the employees of the company. News, information about the company, location, Google Maps, recent blog posts, recents tweets and company profile overview, are all now visible and some of the information available. You can also see the composition of the company’s employee base, including statistics about the employees’ job functions, educational degree, years of experience and university attended. Finally, users can see their connection with the company and its employees, and how it changed over time.

Also added to the company profile is a Careers Tab, which gives users a way to check out what job opening have recently been posted from that company, as well as learn about the company’s hiring practices.

These changes are a very welcome addition for serious LinkedIn users, as they emphasize what LinkedIn is all about: making it easier to connect with other professionals and companies as well as find new career opportunities. However, the new statistics provided by LinkedIn will also be invaluable for tracking how a company is evolving over time with regards to its employee base.

Twitter Surpasses MySpace

twitterAccording to new data from comScore Inc.Twitter passed MySpace in traffic from unique users by a small margin last month. Twitter had nearly 96 million unique visitors in August, up 76% from the same period last year, comScore said. MySpace, meanwhile, dropped 17% during the same period, to 95 million unique visitors last month.

Keep in mind, this data does not account for the visits that Twitter receives from third-party applications and websites such as TweetDeckHootSuite and Seesmic. With this reasoning, Twitter’s actual reach might be higher than the numbers from comScore imply. A newly revamped Twitter website interface is hoping to bring those third-party users directly to which should increase the number of unique visitors the site receives now and in the future.

Also according to this data, Twitter has now become the third ranking social networking-type service in the world behind Facebook and Windows Live. Facebook grew by 54% to 598 million unique visitors in August, and Microsoft’s Windows Live Profile, which integrates with the company’s web-based email and other services, had more than 140 million visitors. Facebook has a strong-hold on the #1 social networking-type service in terms of traffic by unique users.

“Any comparisons between MySpace and other Internet services are irrelevant as MySpace’s mix of offerings is uniquely different and specifically focused on audiences under the age of 35,” said Rosabel Tao, a MySpace spokeswoman, in a statement.

Twitter is a social publishing and news discussion platform more than anything, while MySpace is attempting to position itself as a destination for young people to discover new music, movies and games. Both appeal to brands that want to reach new people, but they’re very different tools for very different kinds of brands.

Carolyn Penner, a Twitter spokeswoman said in a statement: “While we generally don’t comment on third-party statistics, the growth measured by others doesn’t surprise us. We’re seeing 370,000 new accounts a day.”

Twitter’s growth and milestone of passing MySpace is hoped to be used to woo marketers that could use the service to target relevant ads to consumers interested in real-time information about breaking events and other topics. Twitter has already cashed in on its numerous users with Promoted Tweets, and now it will reach out to businesses with the “Promoted Accounts” system, which allows companies to buy visibility among their target market’s “Who to Follow” suggestions.

Source: Wall Street Journal | Mashable


Automated driving. Is technology going too far?

automated-drivingIn recent years and in the near future, we are seeing the Automotive Industry take a whole new direction in their technology advancements. There are vehicles that parallel park themselves, vehicles that sense and warn of vehicles or objects in “blind spots”, back-up sensors and video cameras, pre-accident sensors, cars that will apply the brakes when drivers don’t, etc …

This brings up the question in my mind: Are these technological advances in regards to driving, making it “ok” to be a bad driver, making it easier to become lazy or making it safer for drivers on the roads?

In fact, I personally believe that it is doing all three at the same time.

Of course, the safety features on cars, that I’m sure will eventually become standard on all vehicles; will in fact make it safer for drivers on the road. With the advancement of technology, these features will be improved upon and perfected by the time it becomes a standard on all vehicles. By then when a driver, for whatever reason, is close to an accident of any kind, the car will warn the driver or prevent the accident by taking control of the car. Technology will not prevail 100% of the time, but it should decrease the amount of accidents significantly.

By realizing this, these technological advancements will make it easier for the driver to become lazier. They will begin to rely on knowing that the car will take over if they do not. Honestly, over time, if you have a vehicle that parallel parks itself, would you have the desire to parallel park anymore? If you know that the car will warn you of blind spot objects, are you going to continue to look thoroughly before changing lanes or making turns? We, as drivers, are already extremely distracted by things like radios and cell phones while on the road. How would It get any better if we know the car will prevent us from accidents while we drive with one knee, texting and changing the radio station?

Let’s face it. There are some drivers that are near perfect, some good, some bad and some that don’t even belong on the road. Now with the aforementioned distractions and laziness, this can turn a nearly perfect driver into a bad driver in a hurry. Add in the possibility of laziness and it’s a recipe for danger. Now the car is allowing this to happen because it will take over when the driver fails. Which seems to makes it “ok” to be a bad driver.

In my opinion, the available technology should be used in cars as a last resort to prevent accidents. The driver should take full responsibility and the initiative in safety. As I already mentioned, technology will not prevail 100% of the time. I would want to be fully aware and prepared in the event of an accident. Especially if the safety technology fails. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t encountered a technology that doesn’t have the occasional errors and works 100% of the time.