Florian Aragon, 42
Sales and aftersales performance director, Toyota Europe
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I have been a true petrol head since birth! I always knew I wanted to work with cars. I graduated with an automotive engineering degree and worked toward joining an automaker. After internships at Mercedes’ light commercial vehicles division, PSA’s R&D unit and BMW’s manufacturing arm, I was really pleased to join Toyota France, where I started in marketing.
Your greatest achievement?
Moving the company toward more mobility and service schemes. In 2017, I launched a comprehensive study of different retail organizations across Europe. From there, we created a program called LEAD, which is short for leverage experience at dealer. The concept was simple yet completely new to the French market. There would be no more sales or aftersales people. Instead, there would be one personal advisor dedicated to working with a customer throughout their sales and aftersales life with Toyota. During the first year of the program, we launched a test-and-learn phase with 10 retailers. We quickly saw improved performance and higher customer satisfaction. We broke silos and became customer-centric. Using these results, I was able to set up a dedicated team and budget to begin a wider implementation. Over the next two years we convinced 70 French retailers to invest in the restructuring. After four years, Toyota LEAD is now up and running. It has been recognized by Toyota Europe as a benchmark and it will be rolled out in all countries.
Born: Lille, France
Languages: French, English, Spanish
Education: Master’s degree in specialized marketing, HEC Paris Business School, Paris, France; master’s degree in automotive engineering, Ecole Superieure des Techniques Aeronautiques et de Construction Automobile, Paris, France; bachelor’s degree in mathematics, Marseilles University, Marseilles, France
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
That happened when I was Toyota’s head of network in France. We had a big issue with one retailer and decided to appoint a new one. The new retailer didn’t fulfill all our requirements, but I decided to appoint the person anyway to quickly solve the problem. That was the wrong decision. Only 18 months later we had to change retailers yet again. My lesson was pretty simple: Always look for a long-term solution.
What is your current challenge at work?
There are so many, but the biggest is the development of our new EV sales strategy for Toyota’s bZ models, which will be introduced at the end of 2022. Toyota’s EV models will use a new distribution model that will be the foundation of our future business. We are building a full bZ eco-system with the help of a cross-divisional team. There will be new retail standards and a new sales distribution strategy for our retailers. This transition will also affect online sales development and our sales strategy. It will be supported by innovative leasing solutions with connected and mobility services. All this spells out a new direction. Together with Toyota Financial Services and Kinto, our recently introduced car-sharing service, we want to transition from car ownership to car usership.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Learn to say, “No.” My first boss gave me this advice when I joined Toyota’s sales division. He taught me that while saying yes can be easy, it’s often the wrong answer. Stay true to your own values and the direction you want to give your projects. Never compromise.
2020-present: Europe sales and aftermarket director, Toyota Europe, Paris, France
2018-2020: Sales and aftersales director, Toyota France, Paris
2017-2018: Sales director, Toyota France, Paris
2014-2017: Europe senior product manager for Yaris European launch, Toyota Europe, Paris
2012-2014: Head of Toyota network development, Toyota France, Paris
2008-2012: Sales coordinator for network sales steering, Toyota France, Paris
2005-2008: Sales field force, Toyota France, Paris
2003-2005: Marketing product specialist for Aygo and Yaris launch, Toyota France, Paris
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
The car industry is full of passionate people, so be passionate about your job. Also keep in mind that the industry is undergoing massive changes, so be sure to bring all your energy and lots of ideas to help shape the future.
What job do you really want to have in the future?
I would love to be a Toyota CEO in a European country. At the top on the list of countries would be Toyota’s CEO in France. To me it’s the perfect job, where it’s possible to drive the business from every angle.
What do you do to relax?
I drive my classic cars.
What is your dream location to live?
I would love to live in a very sunny place such as Aix-en-Provence in the south of France.
What is your favorite driving song?
I really enjoy “Giorgio by Moroder” by Daft Punk.
What was your favorite road trip and why?
In 2012 we drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles and then on to Las Vegas. We were a group of friends who traveled some 4,000 km in American cars. We toured the U.S. West Coast and several national parks. We saw amazing nature and experienced American culture. I loved it.
What was your first car?
It was a green Peugeot 106. I remember being so proud of it. It brought me everywhere I wanted to go.
A Lexus RX hybrid.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I would be the Aston Martin DB5 that James Bond drives because of its elegant design and all its gadgets.