Advice News

How can businesses help communities during the crisis?

Time 8:42 pm, March 21, 2020

Businesses – including car dealers and garages across the country – have contacted Car Dealer Magazine for ideas on how they can help the community in this time of crisis.

As the country is gripped by the coronavirus pandemic, many communities are clubbing together to help each other out.

Car dealerships are often at the hubs of their communities and although they are in desperate situations with regard to business, many are still looking at how they can help others out.

Here, we have rounded up just some of the suggestions that we have received from other dealers, medical professionals and communities as to how dealers could consider helping their local communities out. 

If you can think of others, let us know by contacting us on this website or via social media channels – you’ll find founder James Baggott @CarDealerEd on Twitter.

Obviously, it shouldn’t need to be said, but ensure before attempting anything that you have heeded the latest government advice on social distancing and isolation where appropriate.

Where can you start?

First you need to find out who needs help. Put a call out on your social media accounts, speak to your local newspaper and the local radio station and ask them who needs help. You have great connections in your local area and so too will your staff. For instance, do you have a Rotary Club, a Lions Club, or another similar charitable organisation? Use those to your advantage and get the message out there. Someone will know someone who needs your help. Helping people out will not only help you cope, but it will make you feel useful and actually make a difference in getting this country moving again.

Have you tried contacting your local council or your MP to offer your help?

Say what you like about our politicians and leaders, but during this time of crisis they are working harder than ever. There’s a very good chance that they will know of local organisations or charities that will need your help during this time of crisis. Offer your help to them and they’ll know you can assist if something does come up. This is not the time for feeling sorry for ourselves and sitting around doing nothing.

Can you help NHS workers at all?

Keeping our NHS running is absolutely critical. The staff working in hospitals are up against an unenviable battle and are working long hours to tackle the crisis. Reach out on social media to offer local NHS workers a helping hand. There are plenty of ways you can probably help. Perhaps you could free up slots or offer more flexible opening so they can get their car repaired or serviced at a time convenient to them.

NHS workers need our help more than ever right now

Have you thought about free services or MOTs for NHS workers?

We know this is a difficult time for car dealerships and keeping the lights on is key, but without our key workers in the NHS we’ll never get back to normal. By helping them now, you could be helping the country – can you offer them free services or MOTs to keep them moving? Maybe your staff will want to help out of the goodness of their hearts too to help make a difference. You won’t know if you don’t ask them.

Is there a random act of kindness you can do to help our NHS workers?

Saying thank you to those on the front line saving our skins right now is just as important as huge generous offers. Have you thought about how you can thank our NHS workers for doing what they’re doing? After long, hard days they need time to rest and relax – can you help them with that? Do you have access to rewards or gifts programmes that could make our NHS workers smile during this time?

Can you lend unused demonstrators to key workers or other members of the community?

It’s not just nurses who we need to keep working. There are many other key workers who are keeping our country moving during this time of crisis. Think about how you could use your unused demonstrators to keep these people moving. This act of kindness now may pay off as a sale in the future – you never know. But more importantly than that, you will keep the country moving.

Can your staff help get necessary goods to people who need them?

There are many things that need to be moved around the country right now and a car dealership with a healthy access to good, working-order cars could really help. Put a call out in your community to see who needs help. What about offering to help get food deliveries out there with your empty parts vans? Could you supply care homes with things they need? 

Can your car valeting and cleaning teams be redeployed to help clean elsewhere?

If you have teams of valeters or cleaning staff who aren’t doing much, why not see if they can offer to help keep clean care homes, social areas or other places where the coronavirus could spread? They have the skills, you probably have the equipment and the vehicles to get them around. Keeping the infection from spreading is vital and cleaning skills may be of use. 

Can you deliver food or medicines to the elderly, vulnerable and disabled?

With access to cars you can transport goods around. As we say above, consider putting a call out on social media or via your marketing databases to offer help. Why not use your sales database to instead offer your assistance to those in need? You never know where that may lead.

Is there anything you can do to keep the kids entertained?

Schools are off and kids will be desperate for something to do. Have you got anything that you can help keep them entertained with? Are there any drawing competitions or colouring competitions you could release online with prizes for when the days get better? Maybe a wordsearch or a simple quiz? A lot of children love cars, and by keeping them entertained you’ll be doing their working-from-home parents a favour too. Can your design team knock something up that can work? 

Can you offer cars to community first responders?

The ambulance service is backed by an army of volunteer community first responders who will be extra busy during this time of national crisis. Most of these volunteers use their own cars to respond to emergencies in your community – could you offer them a more suitable vehicle for the duration? Or can you help look after their cars and make sure they’re running properly? You’ll find contact details for community first responders in your area online easily.

Could you help Blood Bikers deliver much needed blood to hospitals?

An army of volunteers deliver blood and blood products to hospitals and air ambulances around the country. They also transport donated breast milk to poorly premature babies on behalf of the NHS. These charities may need help in terms of vehicles or staff to assist. You can find your local organisations easily online. Call their local organisers and offer to help.

Can your dealership be used as a drop-off point for anything?

You are used to delivering things and distributing parts. You probably have plenty of storage space too. Could your warehouses, showrooms, offices be used to help store anything for the national effort? There may be a need for this sort of solution – offer it, if you have it.

Can you help support food banks that are running low?

One of the sad side-effects of people panic-buying is food banks are less likely to have donations. In fact, some supermarkets have even reported that people are taking stuff they couldn’t buy in the shop from the food banks near the doors of supermarkets. At this time when certain types of food are hard to get hold of and many people are thinking about themselves, can your dealership run a campaign to help bolster food banks? You and your teams could use your car dealership’s vehicles to collect food from people’s homes – let them leave it on the doorstep for you – and then deliver the goods.

Is there something you can do to help the homeless/rough sleepers? 

These people can’t self-isolate and are particularly vulnerable. Is there a local charity for homeless people you could approach to see if there’s any way you can help? Everyone needs our help more than ever, and by thinking about the most vulnerable people you can help make a big difference.

(Obviously, the above was filmed pre-social distancing, but you get the idea…)

Can you lighten the mood in any way?

There are increased levels of stress/anxiety in others, especially those with mental health issues. Be aware of that and be supportive/positive where you can. Car dealers are often larger-than-life people and their sales staff even more so – can you lighten the mood on social media? Many people are at home, many alone, and many frightened, so some light entertainment on your social channels will go down well. Now isn’t the time to worry too much about whether it ‘fits your corporate message’.

We will be updating this post with more ideas as and when we have them. If you are doing something for your community then let us know, as we’d love to share your stories and inspire others. Contact us by clicking here.

Updated on Monday, March 23 at 10.10am

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Car Dealer has been covering the motor trade since 2008 as both a print and digital publication. In 2020 the title went fully digital and now provides daily motoring updates on this website for the car industry. A digital magazine is published once a month.

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