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While car dealerships aren’t necessarily held in high regards by consumers, there are many dealers out there that are pillars of their community. Big hearted philanthropists who understand the sense of community and the importance of being involved. A great example of this – and the impact it has had on the community – is the story of a dealership in Victorville, CA, featured in a recent article in Automotive News.
Victorville Motors decided to create a promotion: “It’s a Gas to Go to School,” to encourage local high school students to attend class. This promotion, in cooperation with the local school district, offers students the chance to win a free car if they achieve perfect attendance throughout the school year. Students with perfect attendance records receive a golden ticket and access to a day-long celebration event which culminates in a vehicle presented to one deserving student.
Since inception, the promotion has expanded to include teacher attendance. It is now a bi-annual event with more districts and schools participating. Now, more than 100 local businesses also donate prizes, which increases the number of winners. According to the article, this contest has created more than $10 million in additional state funding to the districts involved, as California schools are funded by average daily attendance. In addition, it has saved these districts over $600,000 in teacher pay that would have been paid to substitutes had teachers taken their sick days.
And what does the dealership get? The vehicles given away are wrapped with advertising for a year, so in effect the dealership gets mobile advertising around the local area for a whole year. In addition, they have the attention and appreciation of the staff, parents and students of all of the school in all of the districts that participate.
But, you ask, did it help them sell more cars? According to dealer principal, Tim Watts, he “stopped counting at 300.” Do you feel two free cars a year is a lot of money? Would you spend $40,000 to sell 300 cars? I think most dealers would.
This is a great example of how dealership involvement in their local area impacts the community and captures the hearts, souls and attention of… well… just about everyone. It’s hard to believe that all of those included and/or affected by this bi-annual contest wouldn’t give Victorville Motors first shot at their business. It is one thing to SAY you love your community, but this type of community involvement PROVES it to the people that matter most… your customers.
And, all of the high school kids in Victorville will eventually need to buy a car. If the contest continues, (which is likely as it keeps growing) it’s very possible that it will continue to influence consumer buying behavior in the local market across even more generations.
And, when you have positive word-of-mouth locally – well, you can’t buy any more effective advertising than that.