JONESBORO, Ark. — Tire dealer David Harrison took his experiences growing up with a single mother to create a contest to honor and reward another single mother — with a free car.
In honor of Mother’s Day, and especially mothers who single-handedly have to earn a household income and take care of their children, Mr. Harrison, a RNR Tire Express & Custom Wheels (RNR) franchisee based in Jonesboro, created a contest this year seeking nominations for a deserving single mom to win a new car.
Thousands of nominations flooded the dealership in April, but one stood out, Mr. Harrison recalled. That nomination earned Shereka Ray a 2016 Buick Encore, along with a $500 gasoline gift card and a coupon for a set of replacement tires.
Ms. Ray, the mother of a young daughter, was chosen for her resilience in overcoming adversity, including as a victim of abuse, devotion to motherhood, involvement in her community through helping other abuse victims, and service with the National Guard, the company said.
Mr. Harrison, who along with his three siblings was raised by a single mother, created the car giveaway in honor of their own mother.
The RNR franchise for years has given away a set of tires at each store but Mr. Harrison said, “This year we decided to make this a really special one.”
In the past he received a number of nominations for mothers to receive free sets of tires, but those numbers “didn’t even come close” to the response for the car giveaway, he said.
He told Tire Business the back story for the idea was that it was something he was able to do for his mother when he was in his 20s.
At the time, his mother asked him to take her car to the repair shop while she was at work. He said he picked up the 1970s Maverick and noticed it was a “rattle trap.” After consulting with his wife, he decided to buy her a new car and, instead of returning her old car to her place of work that afternoon, he drove in with the new car. She was thrilled — “like she won a million dollars,” he recalled. “It was a really neat experience….
“So I came up with this promotion, and I can tell you, for the entire month of April, our only advertising was telling the story about my mom and being able to get her this vehicle and that we want to do that for another single mother. So we asked people to nominate a deserving single mom. We had thousands of entries,” Mr. Harrison said.
“The ones where we had some sort of story that we could verify, those are the ones that actually made the cut.” The dealership verified the top five entries, but Ms. Ray’s story stood out.
She was an abuse victim who became pregnant in her teens and had to drop out of college to take care of her premature baby. She ended up working various part-time jobs while attending night school to become a nurse. She also volunteers with her church ministry to visit women in prison and as a facilitator for an abuse victims recovery group.
“She gives back a lot…. It was a pretty easy decision,” Mr. Harrison said.
Ms. Ray was brought to the dealership as a surprise on the Friday before Mother’s Day, where she was met by representatives from local radio and TV stations, RNR and Yokohama Tire Corp.
Mr. Harrison said he originally paid for the car, but then Yokohama wanted to create a partnership, so he was allowed to use his co-op dollars toward the promotion.
“My entire advertising budget for that period, about $50,000, all went to promoting this program. That’s all we promoted during that time,” he said.
Yokohama changed out the factory outfitted tires on the new car with a set of Yokohamas and then gave Ms. Ray a certificate for a replacement set. His distributors also gave her a $500 fuel gift card.
“RNR’s commitment to positively impacting the lives of our dedicated associates and wonderful customers has always been at the forefront of our company’s core values,” said Larry Sutton, founder and president of RNR, who attended the giveaway event.
“Today was truly one of the proudest days I have ever experienced in business. It was an honor to help support such a deserving single mother and a true blessing for all those who played a role in making this event possible.”
Mr. Sutton later told Tire Business that the franchise network intends to extend the Mother’s Day car giveaway program nationally next year.
He noted that, like Mr. Harrison, he was raised by a single mom.
“So we have a special place in our hearts for the struggles they have.”
The RNR network comprises 16 franchisees who operate about 100 stores in 22 states.
He envisions promoting four or five Mother’s Day car giveaways on a regional basis next year, in addition to giving away a set of tires in every store.
Mr. Harrison said his experience with a single mother impacts his decisions on store promotions.
He said he remembers his mom having to take care of car repairs or buying tires, so with every set of tires he sells, the customer receives a year’s worth of roadside assistance, including towing, key lockout and other services.
Mr. Harrison, who opened his first RNR outlet 12 years ago, operates 21 stores in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas and has plans to open seven more stores this year.
He is looking at 11 potential sites for stores to open next year.
For more information about RNR and its franchise opportunities, visit www.RNRfranchise.com.