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Pierce Course Brings Auto Sales Into Academia

Pierce Course Brings Auto Sales Into Academia By SLAV KANDYBA Staff Reporter Responding to demand within the auto sales industry and also to add a source of funding for the school, Pierce College will train auto salespeople through a new program. Through the newly established Center for Automotive Sales Training, which is part of the college’s extension department, the Woodland Hills campus will offer the four-day seminars each month through June. The cost is $400, including supplements. “Our gameplan is to have an ongoing program here,” said David Braun, professor and chair of business administration at Pierce. Lew Linet, a veteran of auto sales, will be teaching the courses, which focus on the psychology of customers and salespeople and in effect “more academic than a number of sales programs out there,” he said. “Basically the situation in the country is that automobile business is booming and dealers are in need of salespeople,” Linet said. “The customers have become very sophisticated and the dealers not only need sales people, they need salespeople with more skills to deal with the public.” Linet said he hoped to “teach them right from wrong,” so that “they don’t fail and get disillusioned.” As founder and president of Reseda-based American Auto Seminars, Linet has taught at dealerships throughout the country since 1986. He has a doctorate degree in economics. Lower fees It was Linet who originally approached Pierce with the idea of starting a seminar. After a number of meetings, a deal was worked out to have Linet teach for $400 per student, not the $500 to $1,000 fees he said he typically charges. The idea was to make the seminar reasonably affordable and in the same price range as other fee-based programs. Typically, that’s about $50 to $100 per day, Linet said. On the first day of the seminar, six salespeople-in-the-making came for training. All of them were sent by Shaver Pontiac in Thousand Oaks. The dealership was only going to hire salespeople who finished the seminar, for which they had to shell out their own money, Linet said. Linet said he expects between 20 to 50 people to sign up each month, from different walks of life and experiences. “We are trying to service both the industry and to bring new people into the industry,” Linet said. Pierce is rather unique in offering a fee-based program in auto sales. While other institutions have created fee-based courses, such as Cal State Channel Islands with a biotechnology program, car sales training in an academic setting is uncommon, Linet said. And Pierce stands to gain from the deal. Its portion of the student fees go into the school’s general budget and then used to “supplement our budget so that we can purchase additional supplies, furniture and other equipment,” Braun said. But in the end, demand will tell if the program will stick around. “We’re not sure whether or not we will continue through the summer or whether we’ll take time off,” Braun said. “We’re leaning towards continuing.”

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