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Tokay High students wheel, deal at simulated car dealership

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Posted: Thursday, April 24, 2003 10:00 pm | Updated: 3:16 pm, Mon Feb 18, 2013.

If only it were that easy.

At Tokay High School on Thursday, students put together a simulated car dealership, in coordination with Lodi's Sanborn Chevrolet. As their sales day drew to a close around noon, the make-believe sales staff members were on track to sell an impressive 300 make-believe cars in just three hours.

On a rainy morning, several brand-new cars, SUVs and trucks were pulled close into the business building on campus where the students had created all the components of a full-service car dealership.

Complete with balloons, straw hats and fake palm trees, the students ran a business office, finance room, service and parts departments of the dealership.

They offered customers well-trained and courteous, though somewhat aggressive, salesmen.

dealership_030425.jpg
"Safari Chevrolet Assistant Service Manager" Desmond Brown advises new car "customer" Tami Somera on the maintenance of her purchase during the mock dealership class Thursday at Tokay High School. (Jerry Tyson/News-Sentinel)

And the customers got to have a little fun too, as they were assigned a name and identity, complete with occupation, income level, marital status and the type of car to trade in.

One lucky role-player took on the identity of a single, 50-year-old dentist with a yearly income of $115,000, an excellent credit rating and a '98 Mercedes SL500 worth $41,000 to trade in. He was looking at a shiny new Cavalier.

"As a discount, we'll throw in the option package at no charge," said sales adviser Andrew Van Sicklen, a Tokay High junior.

The customer walked out with both a brand new make-believe Cavalier with all the options, as well as a new make-believe Tahoe SUV. His monthly payments were a very reasonable make-believe $457.18 per month.

Next to that lucky fellow, Lodi Unified School District Superintendent Bill Huyett was not quite so fortunate in the financial status or credit rating of his assigned persona.

And just like in real life, he ended up paying a little more for his SUV, and at a higher interest rate.

It was the sixth time Sanborn Chevrolet has joined with the school district to put on the simulation. The first two took place at Lodi High School, and this was the fourth at Tokay High, said Dennis Calton, general manager at the dealership.

Debbie Chiene, Tokay High's business teacher, is the person responsible for the success of the program, Calton said.

"She does all the hard work. I just bring the cars and talk to the kids," he said.

Students spend time at the dealership with the staff, doing job shadowing and watching the dealership at work, Calton said.

Most of the students wanted to work in the service department, and it's hard to find salespeople, he said.

Calton knew of at least two students who had taken part in previous simulations who had taken jobs at the dealership.

Chiene said the students all decided which part of the dealership they wanted to learn about and were assigned to that department when they went to the dealership.

The top salespeople received bonus awards, just like in real life, she said.

Also taking part in the morning's activity was Richard Sanborn, owner of the dealership.

Sanborn said the simulation was originally set up in coordination with General Motors, as part of the corporation's Learning Applied Business program.

Though GM closed down its program after about a year, he thinks the program is such a success that he has continued to support it.

"It lets the kids learn something about the car business and to learn about business in general," he said.


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