How to Partner with Technical Schools to Make Fixed-Ops Hires

Fixed ops roles are among the most difficult positions to fill at any dealership. Between fewer young job seekers opting for dealership careers and Baby Boomer auto technicians retiring at a rapid rate, there is a shortage of quality talent on the market. And when your dealership is short a technician, it leaves a service bay open with nobody there to service customers – causing you to lose more revenue the longer a position is open.
One way to attract quality applicants to your open fixed ops roles is by partnering with local technical schools. Below, we’ve pulled together several benefits of doing so.

Change the Perception of Fixed Ops Roles

Less than 1% of job seekers would consider working at a dealership. This means job seekers from technical schools – and elsewhere – likely aren’t seeking out your dealership when searching for jobs.
By getting in front of technical school students and explaining the culture and career path at your dealership, you can open their eyes to everything your fixed ops team has to offer. Speaking with students directly – either through a job fair or dedicated presentation at a technical school, or by inviting a group of students to your dealership – you can help students truly understand what it’s like to work as a technician.
Some students might have the misconception that working as a service technician simply changing oil and other “wrench turning” tasks, while others don’t think there’s a career path beyond entry-level fixed ops roles. When talking to technical schools, it’s the ideal time to change students’ views of working for a dealership. Use your time to explain how many fixed ops roles are now much more sophisticated than most people think – and involve repairing sensors, high-tech engines and other technology found in most new cars today. According to one dealer, today’s service technicians receive such in-depth training that they have the same skills as computer engineers. Also highlight examples of team members who have risen through the ranks in your fixed ops department, so students who wouldn’t have otherwise considered a career at a dealership can get excited about the possibility of joining your team.

Offer Internship and Shadowing Opportunities

Beyond participating in career fairs, consider offering strong students the chance to shadow your fixed ops staff for a day, or take it a step further and offer internships to strong students. As reported in Automotive News, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association has taken this approach. The association partners with Lincoln Technical Institute, a network of private, for-profit career training schools. Through the partnership, about 500 students are enrolled in the 13-month auto technology program at the New York center. And students who receive high grades are offered internships at dealerships, meaning the partnership with Lincoln Technical Institute serves as a built-in recruiter of sorts. Other dealers that take a similar approach can secure top talent before they even graduate from technical school.

Improve Your Employment Brand

Any time you partner with a technical school, make sure to promote the partnership on your dealership website – especially in the career site section. Doing so shows your dealership is engaged with the local community and invested in helping recent graduates secure jobs. If you attend career fairs or host related events at your dealerships, post pictures from the events and also consider posting testimonials from employees who received job offers as a result of your involvement with a technical school. In addition to helping you attract more local talent, prospective customers will also see that you give back to the community, which will help local car buyers see your dealership in a positive light.

Highlighting your partnership with local technical schools is just one part of building a strong employment brand. To overcome the challenge of attracting fixed ops team members, also focus on other aspects of your employment brand to ensure you’re attracting employees who are interested in long-term careers at your dealership. This should include a strong career path. By highlighting your dealership’s career path and sharing employee success stories on your career site, you can attract more engaged technician applicants, who are interested in growing their careers at your dealership. Also highlight your company culture and benefits, such as opportunities for continued training, and tool and certification reimbursement for fixed ops roles.
Between having a presence in technical schools and maintaining a strong employment brand, you can reach quality candidates who otherwise wouldn’t have thought to apply to your dealership. For more information on building the best team at your dealership, download our eBook, “Planning for People in Retail Automotive.”





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