"We were able to do this promotion then, and it got a lot of attention," Bockwinkel said. "That allowed us to continue over the years to market the Mile of Cars in Libertyville as a destination to go buy cars."
The first time, about 40 local businesses participated in the program, and only $41,000 of the $60,000 in reward coupons was redeemed, he said. Customers used the coupons mostly at the grocery and hardware stores because of the recession.
This time, the village is allocating $70,000, and 86 of the nearly 900 businesses in Libertyville have agreed to honor the gift certificates, Weppler said.
Bockwinkel hopes to see most, if not all, of the certificates redeemed. He has arranged to send up to three emails to those customers who earn the gift certificates reminding them of the expiration date.
Here's how it works. The first 30 customers buying or leasing new vehicles at each of the 12 Libertyville dealerships July 6-31 -- up to 360 customers -- will receive vouchers. Customers take the vouchers to the village offices to exchange them for reward certificates, Bockwinkel said. Libertyville residents get $200 certificates, and nonresidents get $100 ones. The certificates expire Oct. 31.
Each of the 12 dealers will donate $100 to each customer's local charity of choice. That means each dealer will donate up to $3,000 to charity for a total of $36,000.
To promote the program, Weppler is starring in a cable TV commercial funded by the dealers that will air 1,600 times, he said. They will also run newspaper and radio ads.
The mayor said this time the program is widely supported by residents because he has emphasized to them that "68 cents of every dollar spent in a community stays in that community." He said auto-related businesses represent about 60 percent of all sales tax receipts received by Libertyville. Dealerships also employ nearly 800 people.
"We wanted to let our residents know how much our car dealers do for us and how that money stays in our community," Weppler said.
Bockwinkel said this program also helps the dealers build customer retention.
"It's a unique approach," Bockwinkel said. "When they buy a car, they're still loyal to the dealer for a long time, and dealers are more concerned than ever about retaining those customers because they understand the value of that customer using the service department."