The collision repair industry has been contending with a massive technician shortage for years, as few students enroll in educational programs and existing technician leave the industry. Last year, Find A Wrench started a sister company, WrenchWay, to help “solve the automotive, diesel and collision technician shortage.” Although the organization started with only one product, Top Shops, they quickly expanded to add WrenchWay Insiders, a mobile app for technicians to share feedback about the industry. The debut of WrenchWay School Connect followed shortly after, as part of the organization’s continued efforts to connect industry employers, technicians, and the schools training the industry’s future technicians.
According to Christen Battaglia, Director of Strategic Partnerships for WrenchWay, “WrenchWay School Connect is a free tool that makes it easier for schools to connect with local shops and dealerships. In this way, industry professionals can help provide the resources schools need to attract students to their tech programs and ensure they receive a great education, so they are ready to enter the industry after they graduate. Schools get the support they need, and the shops benefit by getting involved to build a stronger industry – and it’s free, so why wouldn’t anyone want to participate?”
allows registered schools to create Projects that detail what they need to improve their program, whether that’s tools, shop tours, apprenticeship sponsors, advisory committee members, or anything else. “They provide information on exactly what they’re looking for, and they can even upload photos,” Battaglia explained. “Alternately, shops and dealerships can post a Project that specifies what they have available to offer. When a user identifies a project that matches what they need or can offer, they send a direct message to the person who posted the project.”
User information does not appear on the Project board unless they share a post. “WrenchWay School Connect was designed very intentionally to connect schools with local shops and dealerships,” Battaglia clarified. “Schools’ needs appear on the Request tab, while the Available Resources tab shows what industry professionals are willing to offer to support their local schools.”
Since WrenchWay added School Connect to their services in February 2021, over 250 shops/dealers and nearly 100 schools have registered for the platform. Battaglia noted, “We’re always adding more schools and shops. Like the rest of the WrenchWay platform, School Connect will constantly evolve.”
WrenchWay also invites technicians, service advisors, shop owners, and other industry professionals to become Insiders by downloading the WrenchWay Insiders mobile app. Registered users anonymously respond to short questions about hot topics in the industry, earning points which can be used to play games and win prizes, including gift cards for tools and gear. WrenchWay then uses the anonymous feedback to create videos, blog posts, and reports to share with schools and shops as part of their efforts to effect meaningful change within the industry. Access to the mobile app must be requested through.
Top Shops, WrenchWay’s only paid product, as well as its only public-facing one, is “Zillow for technicians,” Battaglia joked. “It’s a tool that shops can use to enhance their current recruitment efforts. A lot of our Top Shops post a link to their WrenchWay profile in their job postings. The shop profiles provide useful information that allow technicians to research a shop before an interview.”
In addition to providing standard job posting information, such as compensation and benefit details, Top Shops provide photos of their facilities, videos that show what it’s like to work there, and they answer questions about the work environment, career development, and the hiring process. “Transparency is important for techs, so we ask a lot of basic questions that may be relevant to their decision whether or not to work for a shop,” Battaglia said. “We ask about everything from the tools used and the size of the team, to what kind of music plays in the shop and who controls it.”
“WrenchWay is bridging the gap between employers, technicians, and schools,” Battaglia shared. For more information on any of WrenchWay’s services, visit WrenchWay.com.