Retail Front

Ally Survey Shows Dealers Giving More to Communities

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Auto retailers’ charitable support is a happy confluence of good business and doing the right thing.

I sat in the audience behind North Carolina auto dealer Tim Ilderton’s family at an annual awards ceremony during the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention in February.

While he was on stage, his kinfolk were on the edge of their seats. One son bit his fingernails anticipating the announcement of who would win the 2012 Time Magazine Dealer of the Year Award for community contributions.

Ilderton came close, but this year’s winner is Mike Shaw of Colorado. Among other things, Shaw helped local Boy Scouts turn a $200,000 popcorn sale into a $3 million fundraising bonanza.

Throughout the U.S., a lot of collective nail-biting occurred a few years ago as thousands of dealerships closed when General Motors and Chrysler thinned their retail ranks as part of a post-bankruptcy reorganization plan.

Not only did local officials fret about job losses resulting from shuttered dealerships, they also worried about how the closings would affect civic support.

Their concern was justified because dealers give much to their communities. Today, the good news is they’re giving more, according to Ally Financial, a co-sponsor of the Time Dealer of the Year award.

Nearly two-thirds of U.S. dealers increased their charitable contributions in 2012 compared with 2011. More than half the respondents say they plan to given even more in 2013. 

It’s not just a generous few who help out. Ally says 98% contribute to local organizations.

About 45% give more than $20,000 a year. In addition to financial support, 25% of dealers and their staffs annually volunteer more than 100 hours to worthy causes.

Nearly 70% of dealers said they give to make a positive impact in their communities, while 21% cited personal causes.

“Automobile dealers do a tremendous job supporting their local communities,” says Tim Russi, Ally’s executive vice president-North American Auto Operations.

Sure, one reason dealers do so is that it’s good for business. But it goes beyond that. Dealers are paragons of generosity. Their giving is a happy confluence of good business and doing the right thing.

Ally has launched AllyDealerHeroes.com, a website highlighting nationwide philanthropic efforts. “It is truly inspiring to read these stories and see the tangible impact dealers are making in their communities every day,” says Ally marketing executive Andrea Riley. 

Nominees for the 2013 Time Dealer of the Year Award will be announced in October, with the winner named at the NADA convention in Orlando, FL, on Feb. 9.

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Steve Finlay

Steve Finlay is the editor of WardsAuto Dealer Business magazine and a senior editor for WardsAuto.com. His journalism career started 42 years ago as a crime reporter. A Michigan native, he likes...

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Jim Ziegler, president of Ziegler Supersystems, is a trainer, commentator and public speaker on dealership issues.
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