Teenagers' addiction to their smartphones may be annoying to parents and teachers, but it makes them perfect candidates to work for Quirk Ford.
The dealership in Quincy, Mass., employs high school students as young as 14 to teach customers how to use the increasingly complex technology in their vehicles. Members of the Technology Team work with customers at delivery or during service visits -- giving tutorials, answering questions and pairing phones with Bluetooth.
"They were surprised the job would be so simple for them," said Quirk Ford's general manager, Mike Quirk. "Technology comes to them pretty easily."
Quirk Ford started the Technology Team four years ago. The program has been so successful that Quirk Auto Dealers, owned by Mike Quirk's brother Dan, has expanded it to most of its 14 other locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
About 70 students have been hired since it began, with most staying a year or two before going on to college. Demand for the jobs has far exceeded the number of available positions, Mike Quirk said.
The students earn $11 an hour working evenings and weekends during the school year and full time during the summer. For many, it's their first actual job and a welcome alternative to McDonald's, Walmart and other places their friends end up working.
"I love coming to work every day," said Thomas Pugsley, who started right after turning 16 last fall and previously worked part time at a T-shirt shop. "We're dealing with customers who are buying expensive cars and want to know what they're getting for their money. We show them their vehicle basically top to bottom, from the hood to the spare tire."