Giving Back Through COVID-19
The coronavirus came into the U.S. with a vengeance, breaking down the economy and mimicking the impact of the Great Depression. In fact, the quick lube industry, while deemed an essential business, has still been greatly impacted.
According to data from Womply, weekly revenue at local oil and lube shops is down 58 percent compared to the year before. Now, the industry is banding together to give back to those in need. Manufacturers are producing hand sanitizer, ventilators, and face masks to help frontline workers, while others are offering free oil changes and delivering food to healthcare workers. Now, operators are finding creative ways to give back and get their name out there. A Meineke Car Care Center in Gardener, Mass., for example, found great success in their community service efforts and have now made it their mission to constantly give back.
Three years ago, Meineke franchise owner Russell Blake started a small food drive for those affected by the devastating Hurricane Maria. From there, he decided to help those in need during Hurricane Dorian. With the great impact the coronavirus has had on the entire world, hospitals around them were in dire need of masks and gloves. While they didn’t have these supplies on hand, Blake thought it was a good time to give back in ways they knew how, especially to a community that helped him through tough times.
“I came from meager beginnings myself,” Blake says.
Blake explains his business had to reach out for help at times. Now with the financially-healthy position they are in, they wanted to do the same. With many operators giving free oil changes to healthcare workers, Blake wanted to focus his efforts on the entire community, specifically those in dire need of food. So, they set up a local food drive, just like the ones they’d had in the past. Little did Blake know how much of a success it would really be. From this drive, the franchise donated $3,000 to $4,000 worth of food to local food banks. From the success he saw, Blake wanted to find more ways to make an impact.
“We’d recently done a few food drives and they were a great success, so we wondered what else we could do without asking people for more food,” Blake says.
Brad Plothow, a vice president at Womply, suggests operators need to get creative with their time, doing goodwill efforts to build brand recognition, like offering free oil changes and delivering meals to healthcare workers. And that’s just what this shop has done.
Instead of asking for donations this time around, Blake wanted to switch things up by vowing to donate all of May’s oil change profits to local food banks, too, which Blake estimates to add at least another $1,500 to the donation pot. And in addition to the oil change fundraiser, the franchise is also hosting a raffle, with donated prizes including a helmet autographed by NFL stars Tom Brady and a football signed by Rob Gronkowski. At $20 per raffle ticket, the franchise already sold about 75 percent of the 200 tickets available in early May. Blake’s fundraising efforts have been so successful that it got the attention of the local newspaper, and NOLN, for that matter.
Give a Little, Get a Lot
In total, Blake sees all of the donations adding up to $10,000 put back into the community. And while the intention wasn’t to get anything in return, the shop has already seen a positive impact on the shop itself. Blake says since launching the initiative in May, he estimates 15 percent of his customers during the first month were new, coming in for oil changes to help the cause.
With the great success these community service efforts have brought, Blake has now turned the small initiative into a long-term project. Blake says the shop is moving to a new location with a lot more space, and is planning on hosting a consistent food drop for customers to partake in.