by Clint Burgess

Imagine walking into an automobile dealership ready to buy your next new vehicle. You've carefully calculated every angle you're going to work the salesman on, and you've come to terms with dropping between $20,000 and $30,000 (depending on your mood) for your new vehicle. You walk through the big glass doors with your machismo in hand, ready to get the ultimate deal. You are greeted by a woman, and it's not the receptionist: This is your salesman -- make that saleswoman.

This is the greeting you can get at growing number of dealerships. At Valley Honda, Jody Sivright and Reiko Johnson are turning a few heads on the local car-dealing scene. Sivright has been with Valley Honda for two and a half years. "I was the only woman here for a long time," Sivright says. She is a rarity in the male-dominated world of automobile sales. But after a little brain-picking, she revealed that she is every bit as qualified to sell cars as anybody else in her field. She rattled off technical knowledge about current and upcoming Honda models and exhibited confidence and a personable demeanor. Sivright's father owns Post Falls Mazda, so cars run in the family. She decided to make her own way in the business and ended up at Valley Honda. "I take a lot of pride in what I do," says Sivright. "This is actually the only job I've had that I can say I really enjoy going to."

Take into consideration that even though the man may be the breadwinner, female partners are typically the driving factor behind many automobile sales. "She's the one picking the color, the interior and whether it's two- or four-door," says Sivright. "That's usually how it is because she is the one who is going to be driving it."

Sivright also related that in her experience, it's about a 60/40 split between women and men coming in and negotiating a sale, in favor of women. More women are working professionals, and busy moms with children involved in a multiplicity of activities put women over the top in the race to see which gender buys more cars.

Reiko Johnson is Sivright's counterpart at Valley Honda. She comes from a customer service background with management experience from Nordstrom. "It's really nice here because we are very customer-oriented," Johnson says. "If we treat people right, we know they're going to come back."

One particular way Sivright and Johnson are treating people right is by educating women in the basics of buying a vehicle and about proper maintenance practices once they get in to that new car. They call it their Honda Gal Power Hour. "I don't think there are enough women out there who have this basic knowledge," Sivright explains. "We want women to know how to get a good deal, not get taken advantage of, and be able to feel empowered when they walk into a dealership."

There are many resources for women to educate themselves in all things car-related, but this opportunity offers women a chance to get some social interaction with those of like mind and some instruction from a couple of ladies in the business. "We want women to be educated in this process whether they are buying vehicles from us or someone else," says Sivright.

The saleswoman duo will be presenting their Power Hour on Tuesday, Aug. 24. Call Jody or Reiko at 927-7000 for details.

Publication date: 08/19/04

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