The SEMA show was an exciting week for me. While the long days and endless walking left my body exhausted and feet aching, I’d be lying if I said I had a terrible time. I got out from behind my desk and got to learn about the industry from both manufacturers and, more importantly, you.
I like tire dealers. Those of whom I’ve met tend to be “people people.” I enjoy talking with you, hearing your stories, your perspective on the industry and what you’re involved in.
During SEMA week, I heard about a program/fundraiser that really sparked my interest – Brakes for Breasts. While the information came to me not from a tire dealer (Amy Mattinat, president of the Women’s Board of the Car Care Council and owner of Auto Craftsmen in Montpelier, Vt., introduced me), I was pleased to learn several tire dealers are already participating. Breast cancer has touched my family personally, as it has for many throughout the world, and I’m always interested in causes that support research or treatment.
During the past week and a half since SEMA, I’ve spent a little more time learning about the program and wanted to share what I’ve learned with you. The fundraiser not only supports breast cancer research directly (by supporting vaccine research), it helps bring customers through a dealership’s doors.
As part of Brakes for Breasts, auto shops across the U.S. offer free brake pads to their customers during the month of October. For each brake service performed at one of those shops, customers will receive their brake pads for free and just pay for the labor and other parts. In return, the shop will donate 10% of that brake service to The Cleveland Clinic Breast Cancer Vaccine Research Fund.
The fundraiser works because a repair or tire shop receives free brake pads or shoes from their vendor and in turn the store is able to offer free brake pads or shoes to their clients.
“It’s a win, win for everybody and that’s why I think its been so successful,” Leigh Anne Best, a co-founder of the Brakes for Breast program. “The vendors win because we’re sending them more business that month. The shop wins because we’re doing a great thing for our community, and hopefully wipe out breast cancer. And the customer wins because they’re getting free brake pads.”
Currently, there is no specific participating vendor list, but Best and fellow Brakes for Breasts co-founder Laura Frank are trying to work with national vendors for support with the Brakes for Breasts fundraiser. The Brakes for Breasts Q&A encourages interested shops to reach out to other Brakes for Breast participants to see which dealers they use.
Brakes for Breasts has grown organically since its start, with shops reaching out to each other to get involved. The program began in 2011 with just five independent auto repair shops in Northeast Ohio. In 2014, 138 shops from 28 different states were involved with the fundraiser.
Donations to the cause have also grown. In 2011, $10,000 was donated; 2012, $32,848.84; and 2013, $66,499.29. While this year’s donations are still coming in, Best said the fundraiser is on pace this year to raise more money than all other years combined. She anticipates the donation to total more than $100,000.
Shops that participate in Brakes for Breasts receive marketing materials, including premade press releases, to use in their market to promote the fundraiser. In addition, all donations are tax deductible and shops receive a verification letter for their donation directly from the Cleveland Clinic.