Giving back is important in business

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I watched baseball’s All-Star Game Tuesday night and, while I enjoyed seeing so many of this year’s top ball players, I was most impacted by the pause in the game when everyone stood up to hold a card with the name of someone for whom they were “Standing Up To Cancer.”

It was an emotional reminder to me that the idea of a business giving back to the community in a measurable way is something that can matter. And it’s really not just about getting publicity, albeit that often comes with it and that’s fine. But it’s actually stepping up to align with a favorite cause or support a worthwhile group with a boost in fundraising or a helping hand in their activities.

It can result in positive action and direct business, too. A small example: During the All-Star Game, there was a plug for MasterCard and its commitment to give up to $4 million to cancer research, one penny at a time for every use of their card while dining out. Now, we steadfastly use our airline Visa card because we want those travel rewards. But we also have a MasterCard in the drawer. My wife, Kay, turned to me and said: “I think we should use that MasterCard this month.”

It reminded me of Joe Lewis at Mount Dora Boating Center in Florida who gives back in a big way every Christmas by putting up huge displays using about 1 million lights (See Dealer Outlook, Dec. 21, 2015). The spectacular marina grounds help draw thousands of tourists to the small town of Mount Dora, Fla., that depends heavily on tourism for its economic success.

For the Lewis family, it’s strictly Christmas and giving back to their community. Still, it impacts their business when, many times, prospects and customers say they found Mount Dora Boating Center because of the displays. And it’s a boost for the town.

How about all the employees that give back at a car dealership by annually gathering and packing food baskets for hundreds of needy families through a local hunger organization. Or there are business organizations that fill simple shoe boxes for Christmas and provide them to widely-recognized “Operation Christmas Child” that, in turn, sends them around the world.

Becoming known for giving back is good enough, but in addition, supporting a cause or taking on a meaningful project can be a great team builder in a dealership. Indeed, just taking some time to solicit ideas from all employees about ways to give back could be worth plenty. There is no doubt every dealership could identify a cause or effort that means something to them if they choose to.

It’s a fact that many surveys have revealed people like to do business with businesses that do good things in their community. So why not do some homework with your team, then make contact and explore how your dealership can become part of something good. It can easily become a way others come to know you.

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