Four Stars Toyota, formerly Putnam Toyota, at 2600 E. Broadway St. in Altus, has been under new owners D and M Leasing of Dallas since the end of April.
“I’m from Texas, and people in Texas are friendly, but I have never met nicer people than the people I’ve met in Altus,” Kelly Strausser, owner of Four Stars Toyota said. “Customers come in and ask how business is going. They really want to see us succeed.”
Already, Strausser is pleased with the dealership’s progress.
“In a very short period of time, we’re tracking an all time record for Toyota sales in Altus,” Strausser said. “We want to keep that trend going. In sales, service and parts we’re seeing either a record or one of the best months we’ve had in years.”
There are about 30 employees at the dealership, all but one original staff member, which Strausser says is not typically what happens when a new owner comes in to a business.
“Some people come in with their own team,” Strausser said. “But I’ve kept all the original employees, and they have this energy and excitement.”
With Oklahoma’s ever-changing weather, Strausser and his staff have had a busy week as they’ve moved vehicles on and off the lot to protect them from hail and high winds. Strausser hopes to find a more permanent solution, but until then, he’s heard no complaints.
“They all understand that the vehicles are an investment,” Strausser said. “They know that if we have the largest selection, more people will be drawn here, so we have to protect the inventory from hail damage.”
Though he’s new to Altus, Strausser began his car sales career in a Toyota dealership in 1995. What began as an piece of advice taken from a friend and seemed like an opportunity to meet another potential employer on the sales floor became a 22-year career that resulted in a partnership at D and M Leasing’s newest dealership in Fort Worth, Texas.
“In two and half years, we have 600 reviews that sound like something your mom or brother wrote — just wowed by the quality,” Strausser said. “We’ve gotten all of our customers by referral and word-of-mouth, and I plan to do in Altus what we’ve done in Fort Worth.”
Strausser said he believes people are the same in small towns and big cities, each wanting respect, a fair trade and to know the dealer won’t take advantage and will maintain that relationship after a sale has been made.
“What happens after the sale is important.Taking care of people and building lifelong relationships — that’s how you build a business,” Strausser said. “I plan to have a presence here and out on the lot to meet customers and let them know how important their business is to us.”
“In sales, you believe in what you’re selling,” Strausser said. “I hear customers come in with stories about their Toyota’s longevity and they’re proud of it, but it’s the same story I hear day after day. It’s a quality product and it makes it that much easier to sell.”
Four Stars Toyota offers a $500 rebate for active military members and Strausser is working on a discount for Bar-S employees. He hopes to get involved with local schools and community outreach and to put down roots in Altus.
“My vision is to grow to be the finest Toyota dealership in Oklahoma,” Strausser said. “My family didn’t come here to run an average dealership. We came to do something special.”
Reach Katrina Goforth at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077.