How to Support Local Automotive Programs & Attract Students to Your Dealership

With the aging population of technicians, it’s more important than ever for dealerships to invest in attracting young technician talent. While most dealerships understand the importance of working with schools, showing up on career day or calling instructors around graduation time asking for their best students is not enough.

Automotive instructors are faced with tight budgets and limited support. These challenges not only lead to decreased enrollment numbers, but they also compromise the quality of education auto students receive. For dealerships, this means less technicians entering the industry and a lower skill level of entry-level technicians.

If dealerships want to start attracting young talent, they need to step up and start supporting schools in ways beyond employing students after graduation—but what sort of support do instructors need?

Ways Dealerships Can Support Local Automotive Programs

The easiest way to support local automotive programs is by asking instructors how you can help. However, before approaching this conversation, it’s a good idea to proactively brainstorm some ideas based on your resources. 

Some ways dealerships can help schools include:

  • Becoming an active member in their advisory committee
  • Giving tours of your dealership
  • Donating equipment, tools, and supplies
  • Speaking to a class or giving a demonstration
  • Offering job shadow opportunities
  • Creating an internship/apprenticeship program
  • Inviting instructors and students to trainings at your dealership

Don’t forget about high schools!

One important thing to note, dealerships shouldn’t just be helping out post-secondary schools; they need to support high schools as well. While not every high school will have an official automotive program, they’re still going to have kids that are interested in automotive. Dealerships can still help fill the curriculum gaps and educate high school students about opportunities in the industry. 

Benefits of Supporting Local Schools

Both high schools and post-secondary institutions play a pivotal role in providing young adults the education they need to succeed after graduation. Unfortunately, between tight budgets and the instructor shortage, they really need the support of local businesses. But, it’s not just the schools that benefit from community support, it’s mutually beneficial to the businesses as well.

Working with local schools helps dealerships:

  • Build relationships with instructors
  • Build brand awareness with students (and their parents)
  • Improve community trust and loyalty
  • Create leadership opportunities for your existing technicians and staff

Ultimately, working with local schools helps create a pipeline of young talent for your service department, while increasing awareness and support for your dealership in the community.

How to Get Started: A Step-by-Step Guide

Building relationships with schools isn’t difficult, but it can feel overwhelming to get started. At WrenchWay, we have built relationships with nearly 850 schools across the country, so we know a thing or two about school outreach. Below is what we recommend.

1. Create a list of ways you can offer support.

As mentioned above, a great place to get started is by creating a list of ways your dealership is able to support instructors and their students at this time. It’s important not to over-promise. For example, if you’re short-staffed, now might not be the optimal time to send an employee to speak to a class.
When creating your list, make sure to take a walk around the dealership, make note of any vehicle parts, supplies, or anything that’s no longer needed. Those obsolete parts or supplies you’d normally toss could be very valuable to an undersupported tech ed or automotive program.

2. Research contacts at local schools.

Once your list is established, you can start to research instructors and/or career services professionals at local schools. Luckily, the majority of schools share the contact information of their staff on their public websites. It might be helpful to create a spreadsheet to keep track of contacts and when you last reached out to them.

3. Reach out via email and/or phone… and follow up!

It can be difficult to catch instructors over the phone due to their teaching schedules, so oftentimes email is the best place to start. Provide a brief explanation of who you are and why you’re reaching out. You can even include a list of some or all of the ways you can help support their program.

The important thing is not to just stop at one email or phone call. It can often take several attempts before an instructor will respond. 

Overwhelmed? WrenchWay Makes Support Schools Easy

WrenchWay School Assist makes connecting with local schools easy:

  • WrenchWay already has relationships established with nearly 850 schools nationwide.

  • All schools are on one central platform.

  • Instructors post updates about their programs and anything they need help with.

  • Dealerships can list all the ways they are able to support schools on their profile.

  • Dealers and schools can communicate directly through the online platform.

Access to School Assist is included as a part of WrenchWay Top Shop Memberships, which includes additional resources for finding and attracting technicians to your dealership. 



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