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All humans have feelings and those feelings can absolutely affect their decisions in life, including any products purchased, where they buy them and to which companies they are loyal. Large companies know this and realize that corporate social responsibility programs are important to brand image, customer sentiment and loyalty. And these programs can also motivate and inspire employees to become brand advocates.
Who wouldn’t want to do business with a company that shares its values? And, who wouldn’t want to work for a company that is loved? These two things are an important part of transforming a business from one that’s simply a place to transact, to one with personality.
An excellent example of this, and how one small good deed reaped huge benefits, is the story of Jake Nelson and a Ford dealership in Apple Valley, Minnesota. Jake is a special needs boy who loved cars, but was told he could never drive. Because of his passion for cars, his parents took him to dealerships just to wander and look at all of the objects he so loved. Upon visiting Apple Ford Lincoln, a salesperson took the time to talk with the boy and introduced him to others at the dealership. He soon became a fixture at the store, helping in the many ways that he could on the lot, making sure the cars are all locked and well presented. It has brought great joy into his life and acts as an inspiration both to customers and other employees at the dealership.
This story garnered wonderful national media attention for Ford and highlighted the dealership in this great video:
This act positively affected a young life and is a wonderful example of how one car dealership’s image transformed in the eyes of its employees, community and the world. And ultimately that’s exactly what social responsibility is all about.
Ford has now announced the launch of its FordInclusiveWorks program. This pilot program, starting June 1st, is designed to provide meaningful employment to adults with autism. With a national unemployment rate of 75-90 percent, Ford recognized an opportunity to make an impact on these adult’s lives.And, while this pilot may only involve 5 people for now, there’s no telling what the future holds should it succeed. Felicia Fields, Ford group VP of human resources and corporate services, couldn’t have said it any better when she said; “We recognize that having a diverse and inclusive workforce allows us to leverage a wider range of innovative ideas to make our customers’ lives better.” [emphasis added]
While Ford may dominate this blog, there are many other automakers and dealers that make an impact in our world. Dealers are well known for being a huge support to their local communities.
Automakers typically have individual charities they choose to assist (such as Chevrolet and the American Heart Association), but also quickly render aid in times of crisis -- as was the case in the Hurricane Sandy disaster, for example.
With each and every one of these; whether a huge expensive campaign by OEMs; or simply a dealer seeing someone in need and choosing to help; it helps to humanize our industry – to show consumers that car dealerships aren’t places filled with people looking to take advantage of them, but rather businesses employing people who care about other people.
So whatever your passion - rescuing animals, helping the homeless or countless others – know that social responsibility, being involved in and part of your community and taking action when others are in need is not only something you could do…
…but something you should.