Toyota Uses Axonify Inspired Competition to Reward Employees

Post game celebration, confetti flying. Tons of fun even though our Steelers didn't make it
Post game celebration, confetti flying. Tons of fun even though our Steelers didn’t make it

Garret Grahonya is still feeling the effects of Super Bowl fever. The L&S Toyota sales consultant beat out thousands of his peers from every district across the United States in an Axonify-inspired competition Toyota ran to increase product knowledge. The top prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, California—only awarded to 3 employees (one from each division).

We wanted to hear more about the Grahonya’s Super Bowl experience, get the deats on the competition and find out about how he uses Axonify at the dealership he works at in Beckley, West Virginia.

Here’s what he had to say:

Axonify: When were you introduced to Axonify?

Garrett Grahonya: Axonify was introduced as an additional learning tool for us about a year and a half ago. Most of us utilize the app through our mobile phones and tablets. I use it primarily on my phone. We get little alerts and it will let us know when we have available questions to answer.

Axonify: What do you think about the knowledge platform?

Garrett Grahonya: I like the format. The way Toyota has set up its training with Axonify is through microlearning sessions. You have a lot of things going on throughout the day and you don’t want to be immersed for long periods of time doing training. But with those quick everyday reminders on certain facts and certain tools they want you to know, once those become a little repetitive, it becomes ingrained in your daily activities when you’re with the guest. So, I really do like the format in that it’s kind of short, quick learning and you can take that and go without feeling like it’s a chore.

Axonify: Has Axonify ever helped you in a sales situation?

Garrett Grahonya: It definitely helps to differentiate. We have so many different makes and models of cars and it helps give you the specifications to talk about. You’ll have some people come in and they’ll want to know differences, like why is this car five thousand dollars more. And you need to be able to answer that pretty quickly or you kind of lose your legitimacy as a salesperson. So, all of the specifics that are given to you in Axonify—each and every answer—if you can hold on to that information, it’s definitely going to help you sell a few more cars in our case.

Axonify: Do you think it’s helped you sell more cars?

Garrett Grahonya: Absolutely! It’s tough to put a number on it, and there are so many things, like the market criteria that make it hard to pinpoint the numbers, but last year, I had my best sales year ever. And, of course, being goal-oriented, you always want to improve upon that, but I definitely felt Axonify helped to contribute toward that.

Axonify: You definitely have a lot of product knowledge to emerge as the winner (in your division) of Toyota’s nationwide competition that’s based on knowing information about its vehicles.

Garrett Grahonya: It’s kind of instilled in our dealership to be on top of the product knowledge. If you’re going to be there, you’re asked to be a professional and to really know your skill and know your product and the whole customer service side as well. So, they’re very big on making sure that this knowledge is instilled in their sales associates. After 10 years, it’s kind of become ingrained in me. You see people come and go and the success that follows for those that embrace that versus those that don’t. So, you have to stay on top of your game and you’ve got a lot of competition too. We’re in an area with a lot of dealerships. So, you have to set yourself apart a little bit.

Axonify: Can you tell me more about the product knowledge competition you participated in through Toyota?

Garrett Grahonya: It was primarily Axonify based. The Axonify application was the starting process for the whole competition, which started in October or November last year.

Every day, we’d each have three questions. (It was only a micro session, so you were only taking it for a couple of minutes). So, out of the week, you could total 21 possible answers.

First, it started out that had to participate every day. The current totals weren’t that important. Then, as time went on you had to get 80% correct or do training at least 3 days minimum. So there were different criteria. Every now and then they would throw in an activity on one of Toyota’s websites where you had to go in and participate or make a comment on a certain topic or things like that, but the majority of it was based on the questions through Axonify.

If you got all the points for that week, say week 1 was a 50-point week and you had to do 4 different tasks, including answering a certain number of questions for that week, you would be rewarded 50 points. The next week, the criteria would be a little tougher and there would be more possible points. So, it was more and more important as the competition went on to make sure you met all the criteria because if you missed out on those points, it would be really tough to compete with the folks who were getting those points.

Once that first 11 or 12 weeks went by, then the qualifiers were announced and we went on to a jeopardy-type competition. I think there were 5 topics with 4 questions, each with numeric values, just like in jeopardy. So, you went online to the jeopardy game Toyota created to answer as many questions correctly as you could in a set timeframe. And if you got the answer wrong, you lost the points.

Once the time was out, you risked points, based on the topic given for the final question round. They would give you a topic and let you know what the question was going to be related to and, based on your confidence level, you would risk the number of points you felt comfortable with to go into that final question.

So, after all of that was said and done, the tallies were taken and, then, they weeded that down into one person in each category in each of the competing regions. And then all of that took place a second time in the exact same format, except in the finals format there were two rounds of questions, instead of just the one. And again, the same final jeopardy format in which you would total your answer or tally your points and risk the appropriate amount that you felt comfortable with going into that final answer. So, after all that was said and done, there was a period of waiting before they announced the winners.

Axonify: How did Toyota notify you that you had won for your division and that you would be sent on an all expenses paid trip to the Super Bowl?

Garrett Grahonya: Well, they sent me an email. It was kind of funny. My wife was already in bed and just before midnight (I kind of stay up a little later than I should sometimes), I decided I would just check my email for work purposes. I had received the email a couple hours prior that I was the winner. And so, here I am, almost asleep and I need to get up early for work the next morning. I have no one to talk to this about because my wife’s in bed and I’m the only one up, so it was a couple of hours before I was able to calm down a little bit. It was very exciting. But, it was kind of strange. Normally, you want to celebrate or call someone, but at that time of the night, that really wasn’t appropriate. So I had to sit there all by myself with all that nervous tension and excitement and wait until the following morning. I woke up my wife a little early that morning to make sure she knew what was going on.

Axonify: Tell me about your experience at the 2016 Super Bowl.

Garrett Grahonya: Toyota really did a great job. Knowing other people who have won trips through the company, I’ve always heard how well you’re treated and pampered and that definitely held true.

We were picked up at the airport in a fancy car and they had reservations at one of the nicest hotels. We had a large bus that could have probably seated 50 people for only a dozen of us. We had a tour guide, a representative from Toyota that handled all the planning of where we needed be and when and they made sure we were just really taken care of.

At the game, we had access to a really nice restaurant that was in the stadium from a prominent chef, Michael Mina. Really top end. We were in the lower level, right below the CBS broadcast booth, pretty close to the end zone where most of the score was taking place at the the beginning of the game. So, we got to see quite a bit. We were very close to all of the announcers and we saw several famous people too on the trip. So, it was really exciting for us, being from a small town here in West Virginia.

They just really pampered you and made sure everything was very seamless. So the representatives from Toyota were great. All the people from San Francisco were great. It was a very friendly city and they were really on their game in terms of making sure the people coming in for the Super Bowl left with a positive experience, which we all did.

Axonify: Are you planning to try and win next year?

Garrett Grahonya: Well, sure, Yeah. Now that I know it can happen it’s even more of a boost of confidence.

Axonify: What’s your strategy?

Garrett Grahonya: Just to try to be diligent. You know, do the training every day. With new products coming out every day, just try to stay on top of the changes and vehicles. It’s an ongoing evolution with all of our products, so we have to really try and stay on top of that and just study and take advantage of all the resources that are available to us through the dealership and from Toyota.

Axonify: Now that you’ve had this experience, what would you say is the main benefit of Axonify?

Garrett Grahonya: The ultimate benefit is the regularity of having the information in front of you for the benefit of your job. You know, we all want to do great at our job. If you have all the proper tools, all the answers, all the information your customers are requesting as well as some of the information, maybe they don’t know they’re requesting, if that helps you sell even one more car, then it’s been a big benefit. And we all feel like that’s what Axonify has done.

Axonify: How would you describe Axonify in one word?

Garrett Grahonya: I’ll do two words: Moving Forward. That’s Toyota’s slogan and I think that it helps us move forward.

We're lucky to have so many bright minds authoring content that disrupts traditional thinking, challenges the status quo and provides a fresh perspective on how to drive company performance through learning. Don't forget to subscribe to our blog to get new insights delivered right to your inbox every week.

Looking for more information? We’d love to talk.