If you have been to Toyota of Olympia’s service department recently, you may have noticed a young, cheerful face greeting you as you step out of your vehicle. The energetic and friendly millennial it belongs to is Dani Babcock, who has been with Toyota since February 2017 and has just recently moved into service, where her contagious smile lights up the place. Originally a temporary job, Dani has found a home at Toyota.
Dani was pretty sure she wanted to go into law enforcement, but like most 20-somethings, she had a lot of jobs in between. She learned that getting into a position at a corrections facility wasn’t easy and, when the job finally came in, it was on-call. It wasn’t the steady career she had been hoping for. Like many her age, she has rent, student loans and other bills that require a steady paycheck.
Meanwhile, she had started working at Toyota at the urging of her roommate, who also works there. “I started out as a greeter in the service drive,” she says. With a personality that turns strangers into family in seconds flat, it’s easy to see why this job was a perfect fit. “They said, ‘All we want you to do is greet cars and make sure they have a good experience.’ It was a lot of fun.”
So instead of taking the job, Dani decided to talk to Joe McCorkle, general manager at Toyota of Olympia. “He is the coolest boss ever,” she says. “He is so down to earth. He has a charisma, something about him, that makes him so easy to talk to. I can connect with him. Usually with bosses I am nervous. But with him, I feel comfortable enough to go and talk to him about my job and where I am headed. And, he is genuinely interested in me and my life. He told me not to make a decision just based on a paycheck, but he wanted to make sure it was the right decision for me and my interests.”
Dani quickly learned what other team members at Toyota already knew – this is a place that fosters aspirations and growth.
“Fred, the service manager, came to me and asked me what I wanted to do with my life and where I wanted to go,” she explains. “I told him I was thinking of being a police officer and his response was ‘You have the exact values that we try to encompass at Toyota.’ He wanted me to stay.”
Dani’s brother works in the automotive industry and she confesses it wasn’t something she had ever thought. “But I love it,” she adds. Dani’s positive attitude makes her an asset for Toyota – she shines no matter what department she is in. “Joe asked me to cover in the café for a couple months, so I learned how to make coffee,” she says. “That was fun too.”
When Toyota opened its brand new location in Tumwater, who better to head up the valet service than cheerful Dani. She also job shadowed in the business development center and with the inventory manager so she really understands how the dealership works. Finally, she was moved to service, were Tim Ellis joking calls her “the New Tim,” as he moves from service into sales.
Service is her favorite.
“I love talking to people,” she says. “I have no problem sparking up a conversation with a stranger. I really love taking care of the customer, offering customer service inside the service department.”
Like many team members at Toyota, Dani looks for opportunities to go above and beyond. Recently a woman was dropped off by her husband to pick up her car from service. “I walked her to her car and I noticed she was almost in tears,” Dani recalls. It turned out she had only been in the country for two years, did not drive often and didn’t know how to get home. On top of that, her car needed gas and she didn’t know how to fill it. Dani went to the manager on duty to share the situation. Dani drove the woman’s car to the gas station and showed her how to pump gas. Then, the Toyota of Olympia shuttle drove her home, while Dani followed in her car. “It was great that we were able to help her out,” she says.
It all comes back to the company culture at Toyota. “It’s super cliché, but we really are a big family here,” she adds. “I have no problem asking anybody for a favor or for help. What truly makes it different from any other dealership is Joe. He is a living example of how he wants his employees to be – positive, upbeat. You never see him in a bad mood and he is ready for anything. And that trickles down to the manager and employees. The culture is a lot different than I ever could have imagined.”
Dani says law enforcement isn’t something she thinks about anymore. She has found a career, and a family.
Dani Babcock’s Favorite Things:
Favorite Toyota model: Tacoma
Favorite local drive: Driving down the 101 towards Hoodsport
Favorite car-themed movie: “Vacation”
Favorite car snack: Sunflower seeds