Associate Spotlight: MICHELLE KLAUS
Retail Credit Supervisor, Michelle Klaus
Working in a variety of roles has given Michelle Klaus an unmatched appreciation for the challenges each position and department faces. “It’s easy to assume that the grass is greener and decide that your job is the most difficult. But when you have the chance to try new areas, you realize that each role has its own unique hurdles. I believe that team members are better able to sympathize with each other and their customers when they move around.”
When you have the chance to try new areas, you realize that each role has its own unique hurdles.”
As a team member working with Toyota in the financial services field since 2003, Michelle has benefited firsthand from the value of diverse perspectives through a wide variety of positions including wholesale, funding, customer service, and her current role as retail credit supervisor. Over the years, she has spearheaded several initiatives designed to improve dealer and customer experience. For example, she initiated and introduced an email and fax contract project with the goal of reducing turnaround time from days to hours. As a Kaizen “Green Belt” and coach, Michelle oversaw a Kaizen to revamp workflows by eliminating bottlenecks and helping allocate resources more efficiently. When she moved to a new role as customer service supervisor, she took that spirit of change management and standardized the codes and notes that are now an integral part of providing better service through a more complete call log.
Although Michelle has assumed a new role in credit, she continues to maintain her customer service mindset, which has been a welcome blend. “I want dealers to know how much the whole team cares and that we value their feedback. We consider it a gift so that we can continue to improve to meet their needs.” The key to success for Michelle and the credit team is to have a strong working group in which team members support each other. A focus on the Toyota core value Be Humble is important to build a strong team. “Being humble is all about showing gratitude for those that we work with. It’s being able to intentionally look for ways to support your teammates and showing appreciation when they support you.”
Being humble is all about showing gratitude for those that we work with. It’s being able to intentionally look for ways to support your teammates and showing appreciation when they support you.”
As Michelle has developed her career through various roles and teams, she has personally leaned into the Be Humble mindset. Michelle’s passion for learning new skills and developing in new areas is further strengthened by watching those around her. “Being humble is the best way to learn—whether it’s learning through leaders and colleagues in the office or from experts on the internet.” In addition to her personal development, Michelle is passionate about servant leadership and looking for ways to grow and develop her team. She often looks for ways to develop her team’s skillset and diversify their experience.
While Michelle is a frequent visitor to national parks, she says one of her favorite respites is visiting her uncle’s grape farm in California. “Last time I was there I was able to help with harvest and ‘crush.’ Seeing the forklifts and trucks moving the grapes reminded me of the importance of what we do. Our vehicles are an integral part of every operation.”