Why It’s Important for Your BHPH Dealership to Build Community Relationships and Where to Start
It is not uncommon for large new car dealerships to sponsor and volunteer at charity events or organize fundraising efforts for scholarships or other causes. The potential for increased awareness and reputation of the dealership is significant. BHPH dealerships have a huge opportunity to take advantage of this strategic initiative.
How can you build credibility and trust with the local community? Why is this important? We gathered some information and tips to help guide you down this road.
Why Build Community Relations
It’s first important to understand why it is becoming necessary for BHPH dealerships to foster relationships within their communities. A major factor of this growing trend is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This agency was formed in 2011, and is responsible for the financial protection of consumers. Due to the nature of BHPH dealerships where the dealer serves as the loan holder and automobile seller, the CFPB is starting to take action against BHPH auto dealers for unfair debt collection tactics and credit reporting practices. Demonstrating the significant impact your dealership has on the community can create a positive perception of your BHPH dealership.
Secondly, forming relationships with local organizations can help differentiate your dealership from the competition. When it’s time for a local consumer to purchase a car, will they be more likely to buy from the dealership that supports the local annual 5K charity road race, or from the dealer who they have never had an interaction with?
Finally, giving back to the local community can build your dealership’s reputation and increase awareness of your company. Last year’s Annual Dealer Charitable Survey by the National Automobile Dealers Association and Ally Financial found that 97% of dealers agreed that community outreach activities and giving back efforts improved their reputation.
Where to Start
There are countless different ways that your dealership can get involved in the local community and start being a vehicle for change. Here’s a list of possibilities to get you thinking:
- Donation Drop Off Programs – By becoming a donation location, you can help out a local charity and get members of the community on the lot. You could work with an established program such as Toys for Tots or better yet, start your own. Consider accepting food and clothing donations for the nearest shelter or vehicle donations for a local charity.
- Safety Initiatives – Automobile accidents kill thousands of people each year and this type of tragedy can shake up a community. There is a huge opportunity for dealerships to give families information and tools to educate drivers about driving safety. Get inspired by Toyota’s Buckle Up for Life educational program that provides safety education for families.
- Education Outreach – Invest in your community’s future by supporting math and science programs, environmental education, family literacy, youth mentoring programs, and many others. Your dealership could collect school supplies to give to families in need or volunteer at an educational program.
- Volunteer Opportunities – Organize a local volunteer opportunity for your employees. Even if your staff is small, there are countless ways you can get involved by partnering with existing initiatives. For example, you could help out at the local Food Bank or Soup Kitchen and help serve food to those in need.
- Environmental Stewardship – It’s important for car dealerships especially to demonstrate their pledge to a greener community. Partner with a local organization and organize an annual beach or park cleanup. Check out the National Public Lands Day site for conservation projects near you.
- Emergency Relief – You may have to think on your feet when natural disasters and emergencies strike the community, but people will appreciate your help in a time of need. This could be as simple as providing free charging stations at your business when the power goes out.
- Other Local Support – Be creative and think about what causes motivate your employees the most. Whether you partner with an existing program or create your own volunteer event, the opportunities are endless.
Tip: Search for charitable organizations by zip code here: https://www.justgive.org/
Once you start, it’s important to remember that creating a relationship with your local community is not going to happen in a single volunteering or fundraising event; instead, community relations should become part of your auto dealership’s culture for the long term. This will help you and your employees build a trusting and supportive relationship with the local community.