When it comes to giving back to his community, Louie Herron doesn't like to say no. But the owner of Louie Herron Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Madison, GA realizes he can't always say yes. So, he came up with an ingenious solution that ensures he can always respond with an enthusiastic maybe.
It's called the Love Bucket. Organizations as well as individuals looking for help are invited to go to www.louieherroncdjr.com and click on the Love Bucket logo prominently displayed on the home page. That brings up a simple application form to make their case for monetary support. Herron and another dealership employee review all of the requests and, each month, selects one to receive a $500 donation.
If an application has been in the bucket for more than a year, Herron will give it priority. His hope is that, eventually, virtually every locally based group will benefit.
"When I was coming up the ranks in the car business, I noticed that people routinely came to car dealerships looking for money, says Herron. Frankly, in most cases, they were politely kicked out."
"I realized we couldn't give something to everyone. But it always bothered me. So I pledged that when I was an owner and I had my name up in lights, I wouldn't be known as the guy who kicks everyone out."
If Herron simply wrote a $500 check each month, he'd certainly be honoring that pledge. But his generosity doesn't stop there. On the last Friday of each month, he invites the Love Bucket recipient to spend the day at his dealership where they can promote their cause in a media blitz organized by Herron. This includes live remote interviews with a local radio station and a photo op. Herron even coordinates a documentary shoot that appears on the dealership's website as well as social media outlets such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. In most cases, the public relations generates more value for the organizations than the cash.
"The DJs from the radio stations tell me they receive an unbelievable number of phone calls after the live remotes", says Herron.
"I really love getting on the air and promoting these causes. I think the listeners can tell that I genuinely care about these people and about this community. I think I'm doing something good for someone else but I always come away from it feeling like a million bucks."
"The 'Love Bucket' is a very big deal in this town, says Herron of Madison, GA. I'm not sure if it would work as well in Atlanta. But just about any dealership could adopt it for their local area. It's about making that commitment to giving and raising it to a higher level."