For a small car dealership, name recognition and trust are huge commodities—and the lack thereof can be a big hurdle to business success. It’s important to invest in traditional advertising and social media, although the former can be expensive, while the latter is time consuming. But there’s another way to make people familiar with your brand and garner trust and good will: by performing a community service.
It may sound cynical to engage in charitable giving or volunteerism with the goal of increasing your business, but here’s why it’s not: When you dedicate your dealership to a cause—whether by sponsoring a school sports team, letting your employees volunteer while they’re on the clock, supplying cars for a nonprofit that needs reliable transportation, or any of an infinite number of possible goodwill efforts—you are first and foremost making the world a better place. (As long as you don’t try to pull something like this.) Whatever your motivations, doing good is doing good. And the fact that you get to leverage your business’s spending power or platform to amplify all that do-gooding: extra-super-bonus credit.
So on top of making this planet just a little bit nicer to live on, you’re introducing potential customers to your dealership in the best way possible: with a strongly positive association, in a targeted community, and in an authentic and long-lasting way. Your dealership’s name will be on that baseball jersey all season long, or on that 10K signage all along the route. All the promotion leading up to a charity event—or every time a charitable organization tweets or posts on Facebook about the program you’re involved with—should mention your name (and you would be wise to ensure you’ve got a contract to specify the details of where and when your name and logo get used).
And don’t underestimate the morale boost your staff is likely to feel as a result of being part of something bigger than themselves. Just be sure that their involvement is truly voluntary, and that you’re not pulling them away from urgent work in order to participate.
A few tips on choosing a charity: Steer clear of anything overtly political, since you could alienate rather than attract potential customers that way. Seek a charity that complements your brand message. For example, one of our clients, a female-owned dealership, donates cars to help transport women to and from breast cancer treatments. Another dealership group that sells family-friendly cars sponsors an event that benefits our local children’s hospital. Go ahead and invest in a cause that’s close to your heart—and feel great about the trust and name recognition you’re banking for your dealership.