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Friday, June 18, 2004Toyota is making its lean, predictable manufacturing schedule absorb special orders from customers.Toyota has spent the last six years revamping its ordering, manufacturing and distribution to make it easier for dealers and customers to make changes right before production A customer recently asked Toyota of Orange, in Orange, Calif., for three white Tacoma pickups. Fleet sales manager Robert Householder had none on his lot, a situation that in the past could have meant telling the customer he'd have to wait a long time and losing the sale. But this time Householder hit a few keys on a computer that links to Toyota's factory in Fremont, Calif. and changed the tan, silver and red Tacomas that were about to be built for him. Two weeks later three white pickups arrived at the dealership.The goal is to reduce from 70 days to 14 the average time between dealer order and delivery from Toyota's North American factories. That would not only make customers happier but also cut dealer inventory costs and the need for Toyota to spend on rebates for slow-selling vehicles. It's also a nice marketing advantage, now that many other automakers have caught up with Toyota's quality edge.
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