One and Only Day Series: Heatstroke


A true story about how the staff at a Toyota dealership in Tokyo saved an elderly lady and her daughter from the scorching heat with their warm customer service.

True Story: Wishing for someone else’s happiness

Times may change, but one thing that will not change is the passion Toyota devotes to maintaining its “customer first” principle. The “One and Only Day” series, which aims to go beyond cars and highlight scenes from people’s everyday lives, introduces real stories told by customers involving Toyota’s dealership staff.

This series kicked off initially with a story Toyota Times published that explained one of Toyota’s earliest advertisement campaigns that was brought back to life in 2020, when an ad appeared in the newspaper featuring a hand-written message from President Akio Toyoda.

This and the other stories are true stories of dealership staff members who embody what Akio Toyoda described as “Toyota [team members] who can wish and take action for the happiness of those other than themselves” at the company’s financial announcement in May.

What you are about to read is a real story about how one dealership staff member’s sincere desire to have a satisfied customer led to saving a family member who was suddenly faced with the unexpected.

Racing to save a life

Commenting on the incessant heat, the mother suddenly started to feel unwell, eventually unable to speak or even walk. Unlike Japan, there were no vending machines nearby to buy a drink, nor was there any shade where she could rest. Not knowing what to do in this urgent situation, the daughter did the only thing she could think of: run to a Toyota dealership nearby and ask for help.

Arriving at the dealership, panting and tired, she quickly asked for help and water. While others helped get an area ready to receive them, some of the dealership staff quickly went outside to the mother, who was sitting down on the side of the road. They offered for them to come inside and rest, motioning for them to come. Getting up slowly and walking with assistance, the mother and daughter returned with the staff members to the dealership.

The staff members that had remained in the dealership had quickly prepared a seat away from the window where there was no direct sunlight. Here, they said, she could rest and stretch her legs as they handed her cool, wet towels and beverages, while they did their best to administer urgent care to her.

After resting for about one hour, the mother was able to recover. Finally, she was able to walk unassisted, and the staff members all greeted her with a smile as she left the store to return home. A few days later, the dealership staff members received a message filled with gratitude from the mother.

No car, no problem

The dealership staff member who took charge of helping the mother was Iguchi-san, a staff member at Toyota Mobility Tokyo Kamata Naka Rokugo Minami dealership (formerly known as Toyota Tokyo Corolla Kamata)

In speaking with him, the reason he was able to calmly respond to the emergency situation was made clear.

As it so happened, the mother’s heatstroke incident happened unexpectedly at 2:00 PM on a weekday, at a time when Iguchi-san was carrying out everyday tasks. Because Iguchi-san himself had experienced something similar to a heatstroke in the past, he knew how to deal with the situation, being particularly aware of what first-aid procedures would most likely help.

His calm and resolute composure and manner allowed him to tackle the emergency that had emerged right in front of him, liaising smoothly with other staff at the dealership. His actions not only saved the mother but also helped calm down her daughter, who had been quite panicked and concerned.

“It was the first time for me to face such an emergency,” said Iguchi-san.

Iguchi-san, formerly an engineer, had actually requested to be assigned to the front desk, a position that allowed him to have direct contact with customers while still working his role as an engineer.

Part of making the change, Iguchi-san said, was because he wished to be able to be “there for customers, and to be in the customers’ shoes and to do something for them.” This wish was instantly granted as he was put into action and led the rescue.

At the same time, the store’s Assistant Manager, Kan-san, who also helped Iguchi-san that fateful day, had regularly been telling his staff, “We must do something for the customers so that we will be thanked by each one of them!”

And so the dealership staff members all interact with customers with the desire to be thanked every day, striving to be “best in town”. Perhaps this was the key as to how they have been able to be relied upon, not only by those who drive cars, but also by those who don’t.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

The Kamata area of Tokyo, the area which Iguchi-san covers, has a high population of elderly people, including elderly customers. In speaking with the dealership staff, it was not uncommon for them to advise each and every customer to be careful, especially during this time of year when the heat level becomes dangerous.

Though it may seem like basic manners, these are words the staff members take to heart, truly wishing for the safety of those they serve. This is shown by how they take the time at regular vehicle inspections during the summer months to check more thoroughly about whether or not a customer’s air conditioner or other systems are running properly.

By taking the time at each and every customer visit, the dealership’s “maintenance” may seem like nothing unusual, but the point is that the staff members are taking the time that is needed to help prevent incidents from occurring, not just trying to fix something that went wrong later.

When asked what parts of the job give Iguchi-san satisfaction, his answer was unexpected – he said that he “doesn’t think too deeply about it.”

However, he insisted that it is his first priority to persist on trying to satisfy the customers he and the other staff members had in front of them. Based on his candid for forthcoming reply, it is hard to imagine that he was being anything but honest, and it was clear that Iguchi-san values receiving smiles from each customer that he comes in contact with above all else.

Perhaps in nothing else was this expressed better than the words from Iguchi-san himself, said with a smile beaming across his face:
“I’m very happy when I can build a close relationship with customers and they talk to us about private matters.”

Nothing could have left a stronger, lasting impression than that statement and commitment to get to know one’s customers.

Following the incident, the mother, who had experienced the heatstroke, and her daughter sent a thank you letter, penned by the daughter, to the dealership sometime later, saying:

“That day, we went into the Toyota dealership because we were so desperate. I don’t know what we would have done if you had not helped us then.”

Please stay tuned to Toyota Times and this “One and Only Day” series, where additional true accounts based on incidents and experiences between Toyota’s dealership staff members and its customers will be shared. Through these and personal experience, hopefully more will come to know how Toyota dealership staff members genuinely stop and think about the feelings of the customers in front of him/her, and each customer’s happiness – just like Iguchi-san in Kamata.

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