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A New Form of Marketing

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When COVID-19 hit the U.S., no one was prepared, especially for a financial shutdown. Businesses were furloughing or laying off most of its staff members, and even if a business was able to keep the doors open, the traffic was barely coming in to keep them afloat. 

To bring in business and lend a helping hand in the community, many shops were finding ways to get their name out there and make a difference, like giving away free oil changes to health care professionals. Others have partnered with local businesses on these efforts, too. Kurth’s Auto Repair in New Hope, Minn., for example, partnered with the local Chick-fil-A to deliver meals to those in need. And while owners Calvin Smith and Pete Taverneir knew it would help bring in some business later on, their mindset is on helping out the community.

Ratchet+Wrench sat down with Smith to talk about how they partnered with the chicken-sandwich mogul and how it made a difference for their business and community. 

How did the campaign start?

It all started when Chick-fil-A in Maple Grove, Minn., reached out to us at the beginning of April and asked if we were interested in partnering with them on finding a way to help out the community. One of the biggest things that we resonated with Chick-fil-A on is their corporate purpose: “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.” Our shop has a similar story in terms of faith on how we conduct business. 

From there, it took about a week to talk with Chick-Fil-A on what they could do to support the community through this time and, overall, what the partnership would like. Then on April 11, we went live on social media with it and delivered our first set of meals on April 14.

What’s involved in the campaign?

When we went into discussing the campaign with Chick-fil-A, we decided we would deliver meals to those in need in the community; healthcare workers, laid-off employees, anyone that needed some help feeding themselves and their families, we’ll deliver a meal to them.

Chick-fil-A and ourselves decided that the fast-food chain would donate up to 100 meals per week and would deliver them to families in need; Chick-fil-A paid for the meals and it was our job to deliver them. Every Tuesday night between 4 and 6 p.m., our staff volunteers to deliver meals to anyone within a 5.5 mile radius of the shop. All a person has to do is fill out a registration form on the shop’s website by Monday at noon to get their meals for the week.

How do you get the word out?

We’ve done it a few different ways. We put up flyers down the street from us at the Holiday gas station, but it mainly comes from social media and word-of-mouth. 

I post one to three times per week on our Facebook pages about it with a link to register for meals, and Chick-fil-A is doing the same. 

Every time we deliver a meal, we put a flyer inside the box. On the front of the flyer, it states why we are doing what we are doing, and on the backside is a 50 percent off coupon for an oil change. We have been offering free oil changes for anyone in need, but most customers demand that they pay for the service. They see it as paying it forward like we are paying it forward.

Was the campaign successful?

The first week of the campaign, we delivered over 80 meals. In our second week, we delivered 96 meals and already have 84 people registered for the next week’s meal a day after the cutoff.

Right now, people are hurting, the community is hurting. Some of us are in the position where we are able to help. And in doing so, it gets our name out there. When someone’s car breaks down, they think, who should we call? And who are they going to go to? The shop that is marketing to them through traditional ads, or the shop that gave them a free meal when they were in a time of need?

Where should shops look if they’re interested in giving back?

You have to be creative in how you help your community. Each shop or business has to find something that would work for them. It could be donating either services or cash donations to nonprofits, such as your local Lions Club, Rotary Club, or churches for silent auctions. It could be providing free oil changes to healthcare workers or military discounts. 

Why is it important for the industry to give back in ways like your shop is doing?

The Golden Rule is something we used to be taught as children and it has gone overlooked. Ask yourself this question if you would want someone to help you in a time of need. The answer to this is yes. With that in mind, why wouldn't you help someone else in their time of need if you are able to?

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