The Canadian Automobile Association: Benefits, Products and Services for Every Stage of Life
With a new store in Vaughan, CAA has become more accessible to its customers, changing what it means to be a member.
The dictionary defines “trust” as “the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.” This, not surprisingly, also perfectly describes Canadians’ opinion of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), which a recent survey declared Canada’s “Most Trusted Brand.”
Most telling about this survey is what it says about Canadian consumers and how they value CAA. One of the largest consumer-based organizations in the country, CAA focuses on the safety of its members. It provides services and products that improve its customers’ lives, all of which are available at its newest store now open in Vaughan, featuring discounted attraction and movie tickets, home goods, travel accessories, and safety and automotive products.
Close to 20 per cent of Canadians, or more than six million people, are members of CAA and experience the benefits, and the sense of liberation, comfort and confidence having a CAA card in their wallet provides. Historically, this has been delivered by CAA’s famous roadside assistance, which last year totalled 1.2 million answered calls in South Central Ontario to assist members in distress on the side of the road.
But as explained by Donald Kaye, CAA’s director of customer experience, CAA is much more than tow trucks on the roadside. In fact, it also leads in many other services away from the road that help members navigate life’s journeys. After all, while advocacy for motorists and road safety has been a deep-seeded cornerstone of its heritage for 115 years, the company has always provided members with a sense of belonging within and throughout their communities.
“Our services and businesses are lifestyle businesses, and we like to help our members achieve their dreams, either here at home or while travelling”
“Roadside assistance is how we started as an organization in the early 1900s and is our mission,” says Kaye. “We’re a caring and compassionate company obsessed with member safety, and every time you see a tow truck, you know it’s going to rescue someone in distress. And that part of our business is not-for-profit. There, we just need to do what is right, not for profit — in people’s time of need. Our members can feel secure knowing we’re going to take care of them on the road.”
But it is away from the road where CAA is growing the fastest, and organically, through value-added services that make sense and fit with its members. These include its full-service travel agency, which it has operated for more than 55 years, and the home, auto and travel insurance business, as well as life, health and dental insurance. In every way, CAA is a company that takes care of its members and makes good on its tag line “Making Bad Days Good. And Good Days Better.”
“Our services cover the life cycle,” says Kaye. “When a young adult buys their first car, a parent may buy them a CAA membership, and they’ll need auto insurance. We then have tenant and condo insurance, as that person moves away from home, and when they can afford a home, they turn to us for home and property insurance. Canadians know they are constantly covered by CAA, and these service extensions are natural for us, as they all continue our mission of safety for our customers.”
For CAA members, membership is something they can benefit from in everyday ways, around the corner or across North America. The many benefits and services are all added-value because of the discounts they can enjoy and the knowledgeable and friendly one-on-one service they receive from agents in the travel or insurance businesses, to either plan the trip of a lifetime or understand the best type of insurance and amount of coverage they need.
There are also the multiple rewards through the CAA Rewards program available either in stores or online through the hundreds of partnerships CAA has developed with other great companies and brands where members may shop, eat or play. These include Cara restaurants such as Milestones, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Swiss Chalet, and Harvey’s, as well as Cineplex, Canada’s Wonderland, Disney and Universal, and even Mirvish Productions.
“We are always looking for how we can bring more value to our members through the partnerships we develop beyond the roadside,” says Kaye.
Members in the Vaughan area can now visit its 35th retail store to shop in comfort for the full range of the CAA’s many products and services — the newly opened CAA Vaughan is located at 16 Famous Ave., just west of the interchange of Hwy 400 and Hwy 7. While CAA stores offer member-exclusive pricing, its products and services are available to all. For consumers who are not already CAA members, many quickly realize how much they can save on CAA products and services, and through its Reward Partners. They also realize how those savings can quickly add up to offset the cost of a membership.
“We’re here in Vaughan because our members told us to be here,” says Kaye. “This is an incredibly fast-growing area, and Vaughan members were having to travel elsewhere. Because of the growth and size, we’re now right at the centre of where everybody in Vaughan goes, which allows us to build relationships with our customers. This store will also contribute and donate back to the community.”, he says.
“What separates CAA from other companies is that we are a member- and purpose-driven company,” says Kaye. “This is our North Star. Our services and businesses are lifestyle businesses, and we like to help our members achieve their dreams, either here at home or while travelling. This is the new, constantly evolving and innovating CAA, but it remains a company which has always done, and will continue to do, the right things, in the right way, for its members.”
16 Famous Ave., Vaughan, Ont.
Photos By carlos a. pinto