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How to Create a Scholarship Program

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Baker's Body Shop has thrived in its community for four years. Seem like a short time for a collision repair shop? Yes. Yet, it was just enough time for the body shop to become another business that offered help to students in the collision repair industry.

About 20 years ago, Toby Baker took one class for collision repair at a vocational school and ended up loving the profession. He ended up working at a dealership for about eight years and did repair work at his own house on the side.  Baker got to the point where he couldn’t meet the demand of work. 

So, he purchased an existing body shop that had gone out of business. 

Once Baker established a business he realized he still needed a way to become known within the community.


The Problem

Baker was reading an article in a collision repair trade magazine one day and a lightbulb went off in his head, similar to the cartoons.

He was flipping through the magazine and landed on an article that shared how a body shop could help its community by buying water bottles, branding the water bottles and then donating them to the local schools, and by doing free car inspections.

He thought to himself, “This is what I need to look into.”

Baker did start advertising the business in the local newspaper on local television advertisements. After a couple years, however, he wanted to change his process and allocate some of the advertising budget into giving back to the community. By giving back to the community, Baker says the body shop could be remembered in the community and not just recognized.


The Solution

“We were already spending money on newspaper advertising so I thought we could take that and give it to someone else to benefit from it, it would send a better message to the community,” Baker says.

Baker and his wife looked into helping the local high school and its driver’s education programs. 

“We were hazy on what the programs were like,” he says.

So, Baker started cold-calling schools. He found out that the local high school contracted driving lessons out to private driving companies in the area. So, he cold-called the private driving instructors. One didn’t answer and the other was interested in a partnership.

The first year that Baker implemented the scholarship, the body shop offered a scholarship to pay for the entire course of driver’s ed for one high school student. He took about 25 percent of the shop’s advertising budget and put it toward the scholarship.

He posted the scholarship application on his shop’s website. He also advertised the scholarship along with the driver’s ed program in the local newspaper, online at Gateway Shopper and Facebook.

Students answered one question when applying for the scholarship: How would it benefit you or your family if you obtained your driver’s license?

Then, Baker, his wife and the driver’s ed instructor sat down and discussed who was the best choice from the candidates. Once the shop told the winner personally, they announced the winner on their Facebook page and in the newspaper.


The Takeaway

The reaction from the community was so big that the body shop decided to offer two scholarships for driver’s ed programs the following year.

“The problem is, I wish we could give one to every student,” Baker says.

Today, the body shop is within the first three that pop up in Google searches when a customer searches the name. The shop also asks customers now about the people in the community. They ask, “What are the people like in this community?” and “What are their needs?” The shop is able to gauge areas where they could donate in the future.



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