Driving Business Through Public Art Collaboration

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Society works best when each of us plays our part to the best of our ability. Just like every part on a car has an important role to play, the same is true for employees, their families, customers and the communities in which we operate. Recognizing that “Every Part Matters” has played an important role in growing our company and talent through the years.  

For many businesses, success is predicated on the ability to attract a motivated, energetic, passionate and driven team. Through our “Growing People Through Work” program, Jiffy Lube of Indiana is investing time, effort and expenses to help employees grow personally and professionally. We’ve helped employees pay off student loans, buy their first homes, and even lose 125 pounds. Providing opportunities to those who want to get on a path toward a better life has been more rewarding than anything I’ve experienced in business. Not only has our dedication to employees led to a great company culture, but it’s also resulted in record sales and profits as well as award recognition.

In addition to helping employees improve their lives, it’s equally important for businesses to invest in their local communities. Better yet, look for ways to support local organizations that are meaningful to your own employees. We found that by engaging with the local arts community, although unexpected for an oil change business, we are also advocating for something that our own employees are passionate about.

Small business owners like me don’t often view the arts as an area in which we can make a real difference. Even our “stretch” sponsorship levels are overshadowed by the huge dollar amounts that wealthy individuals, banks, law firms, and insurance companies can generate. For us, philanthropy is difficult to plan for, so our sponsorship investments tend to come out of our advertising budgets. Therefore, we’re motivated to find ways to drive our business in more immediate, ROI-based campaigns than what is thought a typical sponsorship of the arts might provide.

These assumptions make it too easy for both small business and the arts to ignore one another and focus our energies elsewhere. But the reality is that we should all do better because partnering with the arts can have an enormous payoff.

Our "Every Part Matters" mural project is a unique collaboration with the arts community to showcase the work of local muralists. It started by inviting artists to design three murals, which were reduced to paint-by-number panels by a local group called The Department of Public Words. These murals were painted in public by members of our community at a Luke Bryan concert, in the parking lot of our Broad Ripple store, and at Indy Reads Books on Massachusetts Avenue.

The project caught the eye of the Arts Council of Indianapolis, and we have since worked with the organization to add 11 (and counting) more murals around the city. In 2018, 20 artists applied for a chance to create one of six murals. This year, 65 artists submitted applications for five Central Indiana murals as well as one in Kendallville. The project has succeeded on all measures and has even received national accolades in the arts community.

The mural collaboration led to an internal discovery that many of our own employees are passionate about the arts. Not only do our employees enjoy interacting with the artists, but many of them are now sharing some of their own sketches, vehicle graphics and tattoo designs with us. To further encourage employees to grow through art, we’re planning museum tours and beginning to pay for art classes at the Indianapolis Art Center. We plan to display the employee-created art in our office and call it “The Art of Jiffy Lube,” understanding that this will help drive creativity in our own business.

Employee retention is a huge issue for many businesses these days, and we are no exception. People want to be proud of who they work with, and they care more than ever about the mission and purpose of their employer. As employers, we must do more than just provide work. We need to enrich lives. Every partnership we make involves negotiating ways for our people to enjoy the experience of attending the events, getting involved however they see fit, and enriching their lives. The longer we can keep people feeling proud of where they work, the longer we will be able to benefit from their efforts.

For other business owners who are interested in collaborating with the arts, the first step is to dive in headfirst and form a partnership with a local arts group. Jiffy Lube is only scratching the surface of how much we can tie the arts into our everyday lives. There is so much opportunity, and better yet, there is so much local talent. The results of collaborating with the arts will be visible in positive branding, public support, community enhancement, and increased sales and profits.

Steve Sanner is owner and president of Jiffy Lube of Indiana.

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