May 24, 1999
WOODINVILLE--Consumers looking for a break from the hard-sell manipulations of car dealers may have missed a golden opportunity last Wednesday. Woodinville High School's DECA marketing classes conducted a mock dealership, Falcon Fast Lane Chevy, with the help of Biddle Chevrolet and the GM EdVenture Program.
Second-year marketing students had all spent time at Biddle, learning the ins and outs of the daily operations in various departments at a busy car dealer. Biddle supplied several new car models for customer perusal.
"We want to thank Biddle for their support, patience, and for teaching us a lot about running a business," said DECA advisor and marketing teacher Paul Glenovich. "We look forward to working with them in the future."
Glenovich said students who earn a "B" or better during each trimester of marketing class, over two years, can get credit for 10 hours of beginning marketing classes at local community colleges.
"I've learned a lot from this," said advanced marketing student and mock sales rep Leah McClellan. "Before this, I had the stereotypical impression that car sales was a pretty sleazy business, but this experience has increased my interest in learning more about a sales career."
As a prospective buyer, I was greeted by student general sales manager John Stewart, who explained how the operation worked before turning me over to sales rep Justin Hattori.
Hattori demonstrated a broad knowledge of features included in the Tahoe that caught my eye. Particularly pleasing were the heated front seats, although that could seem conducive to even more than my usual amount of highway dozing, I mentally warned myself.
Pretty confident of having hooked one, Hattori escorted me to Troy Schaffer at the parts department table, who did nothing to discourage my salivating over the $4,000 worth of extras I chose. He and two associates offered a broad base of knowledge concerning various traction and differential options. Schaffer added all my selected toys to the tally sheet before directing me to the sales department.
There, Melissa Barham maintained a warm, beaming smile as she told me that my option for a five-year payment plan with "low as possible" payments netted me a monthly payment of "only" $788.59. Not wanting to betray my temporary economic status with a sick, sinking look, I boldly grinned and said, "Great, what's next?" (Besides, I already knew that free food was waiting for those who endured).
Barham directed me to Valerie Taing in the service department. Taing supplied a much-needed spoonful of sugar in the form of a 36,000 mile or 3-year warranty, including 24x7 roadside assistance.
"This simulation has given me a better idea of what customer relations is all about, and gives me experience I can use anywhere," said Taing.
A delicious buffet helped soothe the nerves of mock impulse buyers. My lasting reward came when I drove off in my '84 Suburban, realizing I hadn't actually signed my soul away to debtors' prison.