The dealership launched an internship program last year, allowing high school students the opportunity to work with cars like the 2015 Traverse and Malibu in its service department, learning from its auto technicians and mechanics.
Seeing how well it worked, Wild West Chevrolet added more internship spots this year not only in the service bay, but also in sales and marketing, where the participants found themselves placing ads, helping sell cars and participating in community events, Jerry Bryant, Internet marketing manager, told Edmunds.
The program recently became a source for finding qualified employees for the dealership. It hired one of this year's students, Lawrence Mitchell, to work full time in its service department as he continues working toward his General Motors tech certification.
"We treated all of them like true employees with bi-weekly reviews of their performance," Bryant said. "At the end of the internship, we gave them a surprise scholarship to help continue their education."
Because the community is small, with a population just over 3,000, word spread quickly of the Wild West Chevrolet internship program.
It helped that the sales-and-marketing interns created a campaign to raffle off a 1988 Silverado that the apprentice techs refurbished as part of their yearlong post. It brought in $2,600.
"I don't know if it helped us sell cars but it helped us get our name out there in a positive light," Bryant said. "We received a lot of great feedback and were able to help the community at the same time."
Edmunds says: A dealership develops a great lesson plan on how to find qualified employees and help the local community.