With 293 locations across 17 markets in the US, not only is AutoNation the largest automotive retailer in the country, it is also leading the way in its corporate giving initiatives.
By encouraging their employees to choose which local cancer-related charity each market will sponsor and support – they help these organizations build awareness and increase funding while giving their employees a chance to participate and make a difference for causes and people they care about.
Below is a Q&A with Marc Cannon, CMO, SVP of Communications & Public Policy, on the success of their corporate initiative to “win the race to beat cancer” and the huge impact it has on employee engagement, loyalty and motivation.
How did the AutoNation cancer-charity program get started?
Sadly, too many of us have been touched personally by cancer. A meeting between our Chairman, CEO and President, Mike Jackson and Indy 500 Champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay sparked a partnership that encompasses our 17 markets from coast to coast and our more than 26,000 associates. Ryan had started a non-profit called Racing for Cancer after he lost his mother Lydia to colon cancer. AutoNation and Ryan formed a partnership to spread the message that early detection is a critical part of detection and prevention.
What is the process for selecting local charities?
We encourage our teammates in all of our markets to connect with local cancer related non-profits. In many cases, we’ve supported cancer charities as a result of an associate’s personal experience. Our associates motivate each other by getting involved and spreading the message to customers and vendors alike. By keeping the funds raised in each market, we’re supporting the communities where we live and work. Recently, a team of 1,000 associates raised more than $100,000 for a breast cancer walk in our Southern California market, all a result of the leadership by one associate who is a breast cancer survivor herself.
Tell us about your Atlanta-region partnership with CURE Childhood Cancer.
Our Atlanta market is very passionate about CURE Childhood Cancer. Our associates support CURE events and volunteer their time for their Open Arms program which involves serving meals in the hospital to child cancer patients and their families. We had 500 associates and their families, forming the largest team for CURE’s Lauren’s Run and Annual Picnic, engaging with patients and raising money for CURE. We arrange for each location to “adopt” a child battling cancer in its community during September, National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and this year, from April through September, an AutoNation SUV has been custom-wrapped in the CURE logo to be seen by the community as it is driven across the Atlanta region. This is a fun awareness-builder in the community and is paired with our signage across all of our dealerships.
How has this company initiative helped with overall employee relations: engagement, retention and morale?
AutoNation associates are very proud of our commitment to raising funds to beat cancer. Since we launched our partnership with Ryan Hunter–Reay, we’ve raised millions of dollars through the efforts of our associates from coast to coast. Knowing that we don’t only measure our success by how many vehicles we sell and service, we’ve encouraged our associates to become brand ambassadors. This in turn leads to increased morale and productivity, higher customer service scores, and associates who demonstrate true loyalty and pride in their company!
For more info visit: www.AutoNation.com