Steps to a Successful Vehicle Giveaway
Joe Amodei is the founder and president of The Collision Centers, a five-facility MSO in New York. Amodei and his shops have been involved in Recycled Rides since 2008. The reason? Amodei is quick with his response: “Think about it, it’s easy to open your wallet and donate money, but at the end of the day, why not do something to help that has something to do with the industry?”
When Amodei started with the program, he had two shops that employed about 20 people. Now, years later, he’s more than doubled in locations and has over 60 people on his staff. Since the start, his staff has been on board 100 percent, which he credits to the program.
“They’re giving back by doing something that they’re already good at,” Amodei says. “Once I explained what the program was, it was almost like they couldn’t wait to get started.”
Amodei said he didn’t get into the program for any type of recognition, he simply wanted to give back. However, the events do bring exposure to the shop and promote a positive image for the collision repair industry. Over the years, Amodei has picked up a few tips for executing a successful vehicle donation event.
Determine the Scale of the Giveaway
When you own more than one shop, there are a number of different approaches that you can take when putting on an event like a vehicle giveaway. Amodei has conducted Recycled Rides giveaways both at just a single location and en masse at all of his locations simultaneously. He’s also held larger events where he’s partnered with other businesses, including other collision repair shops.
“Every year is different,” Amodei says. “In 2015 I did one at my brand new location. It was sort of like an introduction to our shop.”
Amodei explains that the scale of the giveaway for Recycled Rides is determined by the amount of vehicles that are available for donation. The Collision Centers once participated in a 10-car giveaway, but worked with other shops in the area to throw it. Amodei says that larger giveaways, like ones that Progressive throws, are not viable for smaller, regional MSOs like his own without outside help, but can be extremely effective for larger MSOs. Amodei says it’s important to evaluate each circumstance and determine the best people to get involved and the appropriate scale of the event.
Designate a Coordinator
When multiple locations are involved, Amodei says that his experience has taught him that having one person designated to coordinate the event is the best route to take.
“I have one person who handles the Recycled Rides and that person communicates with each locations,” Amodei says. “You have to have on person who is dedicated to it. Three different people working out of a different location won’t work.”
Amodei has a person on staff that’s in charge of advertising and marketing that takes over all of the coordination and communication of the Recycled Rides events. He advises that other shop owners find a person that is able to take on this responsibility or hire someone for the job. That way, he explains, you don’t have multiple people trying to make a decision.
Set Up a Process
“Every year, we learn something new,” Amodei says.
Although he’s been doing these since 2008, Amodei just started using an SOP for Recycled Rides in the last two years, and he says it’s made all the difference. Amodei says that each time The Collision Centers team participates in one of these, they learn something and have figured out a way to make it better. All of that information has been collected and compiled into an SOP that is made available to each location. As soon as a vehicle donation has been set-up, Amodei sends the SOP to the shop that is working on the vehicle in an email attachment.
Spread the Word
Once the vehicle has been secured, Amodei spreads the word to his shops. His designated coordinator is responsible for relaying the information to each of the location’s shop owners. The shop owners then ask for volunteers at the shop to work on the vehicles. Amodei says that his technicians usually work on the vehicles during their own time and are happy to do so.
Amodei says that depending on the scale of the event, he’s designated the repair work a number of different ways. If it’s a one-vehicle giveaway, the work is usually kept at the shop location where the event will take place. Amodei adds that it’s often more effective having only one shop work on a vehicle because there’s less finger pointing and fewer opportunities for miscommunication. For larger giveaways where multiple shops are involved, Amodei says he’s found that it’s more effective to move the vehicle from one location to another rather than having technicians travel back and forth.
“Everyone works together, they all know what we’re trying to accomplish,” Amodei says. “Generally, the work will be primarily done at whatever location the vehicle is at. We usually don’t have techs go from one location to another. If we do have multiple locations work on it, we’ll transport the vehicle instead. It’s just easier that way.”
Amodei says that shop managers are notified whenever paperwork for a Recycled Ride is complete. If it’s a one-location giveaway, Amodei and the designated coordinator have in-person meetings and update the shop manager involved through emails. For larger giveaways, Amodei has all of the shop managers participate in the in-person meetings.
Choose a Location for the Event
Choosing the location for the vehicle giveaway is all about the type of event that you want to throw, Amodei says. First, consider the size of the event. If it’s more than one vehicle with multiple shops involved, Amodei says it’s good to pick a centralized location, such as the easiest-to-get-to shop location or a partnering company that’s central for all of the participating locations. For one-vehicle donations, Amodei says to make it about the recipient. Pick a location that’s close to whoever will be receiving the vehicle. Many times, it works out that one of the shop locations in the MSO is a good fit.
Once all of the work is done, Amodei says The Collision Centers spread word of the giveaway on its social media outlets in addition to sending out press releases. Amodei says he’ll send press releases out to any radio or news outlets that are in the area. Depending on the type of giveaway, Amodei says he’s had anywhere between 20 to 80 people show up to these events.
“We’ve always had great success in having people come out and attend and spread the word,” Amodei says. “We want people to see everyone coming together for a great cause.”