Anyone in the car business will tell you: the customer service experience begins the moment someone walks through your showroom door.
Luckily for Allison Palmiero Brady, dealer principal of Palmiero Toyota, she has someone incredible working at her front desk and welcoming customers, receptionist Tanara Jones.
“Tanara really is just a ray of sunshine,” Palmiero Brady said. “It’s her outlook, positivity, and attitude in general. She’s never been late, and she’s never missed a day. She’s phenomenal. The world needs more people like Tanara.”
Palmiero Brady says the first thing most people notice about Jones is her smile. And after that, they see she uses a wheelchair.
Jones was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy in 2000 and has used a wheelchair since 2007. She’s unable to walk or lift things. But as a dealer well-versed in mobility sales and service, Palmiero Brady didn’t think twice about hiring someone with a disability.
“Oh, that didn’t concern me for a second,” Palmiero Brady said. “I actually see it as a benefit. She’s given us all so much. She reminds us why we got into this business and why we serve our mobility customers.”
For Jones, the job has been life changing.
“This is about so much more than a paycheck to me,” Jones said. “To me, this is about dignity. Knowing I can help improve someone’s day with a smile or by helping a customer, it does so much for my well-being. It has made my life a hundred times better. I am so grateful to Allison and everyone at Palmiero Toyota for giving me this opportunity.”
Jones began working at the dealership in October 2020. She saw a job posting in the dealership’s newsletter and applied. While that particular role wasn’t the right fit, Palmiero Brady was determined to find a place for Jones on her team. She hired Jones to answer phones at the front desk, originally for one day per week.
At the time, Jones relied on public transportation to get to work — an experience she found frustrating at times.
“Sometimes they would forget to pick me up,” she said. “Other times, they’d be 30 minutes or an hour late.”
Jones began looking at used, domestic vehicles that were modified for her mobility needs. When the team at Palmiero Toyota learned about Jones’ transportation challenges, they wanted to help.
“When we heard she was looking at buying a used domestic vehicle, we said, ‘No way,’” Palmiero Brady said. “She’s a Toyota receptionist. She needs a Toyota vehicle.”
Palmiero Toyota not only gave Jones a life-changing job, but it also gave her a life-changing gift, and helped cover the costs to purchase a brand new, specially modified Sienna.
Jones still gets emotional when she talks about the impact of having a vehicle that suits her needs.
“It brings tears to my eyes instantly just thinking about it,” Jones said. “I hadn’t been here that long, and for them to have the trust in me, it was just incredible. A gift like that really gave me my freedom. It gave me my life back. And I’ll always be so grateful.”
Palmiero Brady will tell you she’s grateful, too.
“Tanara has taught us so much and showed this team first-hand what mobility means and why we serve mobility customers,” Palmiero Brady said. “These products really do change lives. And Tanara has changed ours, too.”