Jess's Blog

Hello KSU and Spring!

Posted on: April 20, 2015

I am preparing for my trip down the road to Kent State University.  I have been invited again to speak to the Entrepreneurship Class in the school of business.  I have done this talk several times over the last couple years and I must say that each time is exciting.  It’s really great to get in front of the bright and budding students of KSU.  It’s also cool because each time I go, I feel like I have something more to add to my presentation.  Not to mention that each batch of students has their own unique questions that make the presentation interactive!

The weather finally broke and that means new life for the car business.  People are coming out of their homes and shopping.  It is such a rejuvenation and I am happy to be part of an industry that is active in that!  We had a really great March (probably why I didn’t write last month) that ushered April in.  I am so so excited to welcome these good weather months.  It’s not only great for business but also for overall morale.  It’s easier to get up and get to work in the morning when the sun is out!  Going home doesn’t feel like you are heading to bedtime because the sun is still up! Spring, people! SPRING!

In early May I am excited to be heading down to Nashville, TN for the Toyota Regional Meeting.  It’s a short trip but an important one as it is a chance for dealer to converge and discuss successes and concerns to Toyota.  This is a per-cursor to the Toyota National Meeting later in the year.  This year Toyota announced a contest for dealers called the “Best in Town” Award.  This is for dealers who can show an innovated process or program that makes their store special.  Well, I of course, think Don Joseph Toyota is special so I made a video and entered it! Check it out: Best in Town

I have to get running to this talk so until next time!

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Commercials, Events, and More!

Posted on: February 10, 2015

Hi Everyone! Well we made it through the first month of 2015 and it’s been a great year so far.  Although January/February are typically slow months in the business, we have been able to get more people than expected into their perfect vehicle.

I am excited about this upcoming year because I will be joining several new Chambers of surrounding cities to Kent.  Don Joseph Toyota currently belongs to the Kent and Streetsboro Chambers and I really enjoy being involved in them, as they are great ways to meet like-minded business men and women.  I am pleased to announce I am now going to be a member of Hudson Chamber, Aurora Chamber, and Cuyahoga Falls Chamber.  I cannot wait to get more involved in these communities.  They are our neighbors, and it’s really great to meet people to perhaps partner with in the future.  If you live in any of those areas, maybe I’ll see you at an upcoming event!

I recently recorded new radio commercials for WMMS, KISS FM, and Magic.  I am also excited to have recorded a couple spots with Rover, from Rover’s Morning Glory.  It is a lot of fun to come up with our commercial content and it’s even more fun to record them.  We have really received some positive feedback from the radio work we’ve done.

Tomorrow, we are shooting two, maybe three, new TV commercials as well.  Radio is cool to do, but TV is a completely different game.  There is hair and makeup, wardrobe, lighting, props, sound, etc etc.  It takes a lot to prepare and shoot our TV spots and most of the work is done by me and Karen at the dealership.  Of course we wouldn’t have anything without the production team, but we have been doing a lot of the prep work ourselves.  It’s really important to me to be involved in those aspects because I put my opinions in from start to finish.  I like to be involved A through Z because I can say I did it.  Don’t get me wrong, the stress from it can be tiring, and sometimes I wish someone else would just put it together for me, but in the end I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  I think you all will like the new TV spots, I will be sure to share them as soon as the production and post-production is wrapped up!

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Holiday Time!!

Posted on: December 17, 2014

Hi all,

Just a quick recap of what’s been happening over in DJ Toyota world.  November came and went with no major events.  It’s typically a slower month in the business but I must say I have a great team of people who buckle down and work hard to sell cars even in these slower months.  It’s really a testament to the people I work with, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how everyone is working together.

We recently held a really special event here at the dealership this past weekend.  I wanted to share the event details and some pictures from the day.  In the past Don Joseph Toyota worked with a non-profit organization called Santa’s Hide Away Hollow (SHAH).  Actually, SHAH was chosen several years ago for the 100 Cars for Good through Toyota.  I know I have talked about the 100 Cars for Good contest in the past but as a reminder; Toyota opens up a contest for any organization or individual to enter.  The goal is to award a vehicle to a person or organization that is spreading goodness in their corner of the planet.  Several years ago, SHAH, in our neck of the woods, won!  What do they do?  Well, you can assume they are a Holiday themed organization yes, but they go above and beyond.  Their mission is to spread Christmas magic to terminally ill children.  It is both sad and joyous at the same time.  These children are struggling with health issues and one of the hardest parts is around the Holiday’s.  SHAH steps in and brings Santa (often in a fire truck with his Santa’s secret service) to them!  He spreads joy and laughter to these families during a bittersweet time in their lives.  Toyota recognized this organization and awarded them a new Toyota Tundra.  It became a Santa Mobile!  Since the organization is local to us here, we were the chosen dealer to provide the truck.  At the time we held an event and Santa was here to accept!  How cool!

So this brings me to this past weekend.  We decided to support this great organization once again.  We decided to a host a Party with Santa.  We invited SHAH to join us for a party that included dancing, cookies, hot cocoa, crafts, and gifts!  We charged a minimal fee at the door and matched all the proceeds for SHAH.  Step 2, a great company that makes really fun children’s toys, donated a Neighborhood Fun Center for the event.  We raffled that off to a lucky family, and again matched the proceeds from that raffle for SHAH.   We had Shawn Donovan of Beach Boys Entertainment spinning dance tunes and setting up games like pop the bubble wrap and the limbo.  What’s so great about it all is that aside from the money raised at the door and through the raffle, we have had individuals and companies donate without attending.  So wonderful to be able to reach out to our business contacts for such a great cause.  We felt the love and I think Santa did too!  Here are a few pictures from the event!

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Ahhhh! It’s the end of October already!

Posted on: October 21, 2014

Well once again time has flown by.  Here we are at the end of October.  I have some things to keep you all up to speed on.

At the end of August, I was off to Las Vegas for the Toyota National Dealer Meeting.  These meetings are always so amazing and invigorating.  Aside from Bruno Mars being a fantastic performer, I had the honor of hearing Former President George W. Bush speak.  He was charismatic, funny, and intelligent on that stage.  It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments and I will never forget it.  Thanks Toyota!

Then in the beginning of September I had the privileged to be invited to Washington D.C. to lobby on behalf of Car Dealers and Dealerships.


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Labor Day Weekend, Ya’ll

Posted on: August 26, 2014

Holy cow, it’s the end of summer.  HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?  Oh yea, it happens every year this way.  Our summer months just fly on by especially in the car business.  Although this summer didn’t have too many days of intense heat, we did get some good swim days in and I appreciate that for sure!

We aren’t ready to leave the summer behind without a bang though and neither is Toyota.  So if you are interested in getting into a new car, this weekend is the time to do it.  Check out these additional incentives Toyota just released:


Note that we will be open both Sunday and Monday this Labor Day Weekend for all you lovely shoppers.

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Two, yes TWO New Commercials

Posted on: August 5, 2014

I told you I had two commercials coming your way!  So so pleased how these came out.  Karen and I worked hard behind the scenes prior to shooting to get these commercials off the ground.  It was a lot of work.  I am glad I understand a little more of the process now because it will only help us to make our commercials better in the future.

We shot these two spots near the end of July.  We decided to do one day of shooting for both spots so we could utilize our budget in the best way.  We had some really great talent join us on the shoot day, and you will see their awesome work in the spots below.  Like I said in my last blog, Skullz Salon in Kent did our hair and makeup for the shoot early morning.  You know they open at 10am on Friday’s but they were willing to come in at 8:30 to help us out.  I really like working with local business and Skullz is definitely one of the best ones!

From there we shot both at the dealership and at a house in the neighborhood.  Our home-owner, who shall remain a man of mystery, was kind enough to open his doors, his kitchen, dining room, back patio, and even dog to us for the spot.  We are eternally grateful and could not have pulled this our without him. At the dealership we were able to get numerous shots done all the while staying available for customers looking for their new Toyota.  Special thanks to our DJ Team for working around the shoot and still delivering great customer service.  Oh and a thank you to those customers who were willing to take a small detour to get to our service garage, we did block some of the car lot for a moment!

All in all, shooting day was amazing.  Everything went off without a hitch and the end product, in my opinion, speaks for itself.  I am happy that I am able to be part of the process from A to Z when it comes to our advertising efforts.  Karen and I sat and wrote the spots, imagined the scene, and with the help of the video production team, made it a reality.  It’s very rewarding to see these final cuts because my vision was fulfilled.  I couldn’t of asked for a better day for shooting or a better team to be working with.   I hope you enjoy our hard work!  Let us know what you think!

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Summer is in Full Swing

Posted on: July 30, 2014

Hi everyone!  I hope the sunshine of today is making you feel better after the last week or so of nasty rainy weather we have endured.  Got to love NorthEast Ohio right?

A couple of things to touch on today so I’ll dive right into it! Over the last couple weeks we have been really busy at the store and that includes me! Karen and I coordinated two new commercials for the store in the beginning of July and shooting day was 7/18.  I had  my hair and make up done (along with the other actors) at Skullz Salon in downtown Kent.  They did such an amazing job for us.  I loved the way everything came out.  We are getting the edited versions within the next couple days and I am so beyond excited!! Can’t wait for you all to see them; I know you’ll like them!

Last week I was invited with my dad to go to Kent City Schools to accept an award for our support and generosity for the district.  Joe Marken came in place of my father but I was able to attend and receive the award.  Unfortunately the scanned clipping from the newspaper came out a little weird.  Either way, if you remember we held a car raffle for the school district in conjunction with our 50th Anniversary.  We raised nearly $20,000 for the school district parent programs to be spread among the many different schools in Kent.  Can’t thank the community enough for coming out to support the school district.  It was a great event and I am very honored to be given an award by the school system as a thank-you.  So wonderful!

Wrapping up last week, Karen and I were out on the golf course for the 16th Annual Streetsboro Chamber of Commerce Golf Outing.  Since joining the Chamber, both Karen and I have had many opportunities to network with other business owners in our backyard.  This was a chance for us to have fun and volunteer!  We were up bright and early with the other chamber members at the Raccoon Hill Golf Course in Kent.  Remember when I said how cold this summer has been.  We were freezing at 7am! Luckily the sun did its job and warmed us up in the next hour or so.  We had so much fun volunteering.  Our job was take team photos for the event.  Well if you know Karen and if you know me, we like to go the extra mile.  So we got a golf cart and decorated it so hard that it was difficult for someone NOT to smile while taking a photo.  Did I mention it was a Christmas in July theme event?  Well we had garland, we had ribbons, we had a pink flamingo…a holiday pink flamingo!  Here is a shot of us with other chamber members also volunteering that day.

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Posted on: July 10, 2014

Well it’s clear by now that LeBron James is coming back to his hometown, North East Ohio.  I was born and raised here in Kent.  I live and breathe Cleveland. It’s an exciting time for the city!

We flew through June here at the store.  Really amazing how the time flies.  I am very excited to announce some staff changes that includes 2 new finance professionals.  Looking forward to fresh eyes on our processes in the finance department to make it better for our guests.  We’ve added a new person to the sales floor.  Another female in fact!  You all know how much I appreciate hard-working women in the car business.  Wendy is killing it on the floor and customers just love her!

July is a huge month for us at the store.  Toyota really hits it hard with specials during this time. People are out and about and looking to get into a new car! We are happy to assist them and I love when the showroom is buzzing. Who do you know that needs a car?

Well I wanted to keep it short and sweet.  Everyone have a nice weekend!

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Saying Goodbye…

Posted on: May 20, 2014

Well it’s been a transition over here at DJ Toyota.  It’s about time I paid recognition to it, even though it still saddens me.  Don Joseph Toyota/Scion said goodbye to one of the driving forces behind many of the awesome changes we’ve made to the dealership over the last year and half.

My friend, Bob Ringo left the store earlier this month to pursue another opportunity to grow in the car business.  For this, I cannot be angry because he is heading towards where he truly feels at home.  I am so happy for him in his new endeavors.  I am sad though because his mentor-ship over the last year and a half has been priceless.  He gave me insights into the business that I wouldn’t have captured otherwise.  He has taught me so much over his time here, and for that I am so grateful.  He left because I was ready.  He had felt I had the knowledge and wherewithal to run this store the way we did it together.  His confidence in me, helps build the confidence I have in myself.  It was bittersweet to say goodbye, because his daily presence at the store will truly be missed.  His dedication to DJ Toyota during his time here was inspiring.  If you came in the store ANY day of the week, you’d find Bob, working away to make this dealership what it has the potential to become.  His hard working attitude and tenacity in the face of some barriers was refreshing to me.  Knowing that I worked side by side with him and gained some of his perspectives has certainly helped me grow to the business woman I am today.  Again, I could never say thank-you enough to him.  He is a sharp business man.  He wasn’t interested in sugar-coating truths and over his time he certainly rattled some cages.  But it was so great! Because after things were shaken up, he and I were able to rebuild.  We created processes and systems together to make this store better.  I will continue to look at the store from all angles as he taught me.  Don Joseph Toyota has been in business for 50 years because of customers like you.  We continue to grow thanks to people like Bob Ringo.  We need to keep on moving forward, and I so excited to do so.  Thank you Bob for all your insights, hard-work, and friendship.  Good luck in all your future plans.

We are coming into Memorial Day Weekend.  Toyota has announced some really great incentives and we will be open both Sunday and Monday (10am-2pm both days).  So if you are in the market, we are here to help you!


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Hello friends

Posted on: April 8, 2014

Hi again.  I just felt compelled to write because it had been a little bit.  So here are some updates of what’s been happening.

First of all, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary a couple weeks ago.  I have been talking about this event on the horizon for awhile now.  It finally happened it and it went so smoothly.  Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate.  We raffled off the Brand New 2014 Toyota Corolla LE.  Lt. Craig Peeps of the Kent Fire Department won.  It was so nice to see the community react to this local hero winning a new car.  There were more faces of excitement then disappointment – so wonderful to see from the community we love! Our bellies were also happy because our good friends at Swenson’s brought their food truck to place on the lot for the days.  Our ears were filled with great music from the Kent City School band as well.  Oh and one hard-working student, Olivia Labajetta, won a $1000 scholarship for selling the most tickets for the raffle. Overall it was a day of fun and giving-back.  It felt fantastic and I am so excited DJ Toyota is part of such a wonderful community!  Thanks again to everyone!


Aside from our 50th Anniversary, Karen and I had a chance to set up a booth at the Streetsboro Employment Expo.  After being involved with the Streetsboro Chamber of Commerce, we knew it was important to get out in the community again.  We set up our booth at the job expo and had the chance to meet some folks looking for a new career.  We were able to grab several applications and make some good connections.

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