Best CPO Dealers: Strategies for success — Part II

Findlay Toyota, which ranked as the No. 10 dealer for Toyota CPO sales in 2017. Photo courtesy of dealership.
CARY, N.C. - 

As part of our annual special issue honoring AuSM shared the respective top 10 certified pre-owned sales leaders for a wide array of automakers.

In addition to the lists of CPO leaders, which were based on full-year 2017 sales, we also connected with many of these dealers and asked them about the strategies that made them so successful in the CPO market during 2017.

We shared Part I of their responses on Thursday. Part II can be found below:

To a customer who perhaps isn’t aware or familiar with CPO, how do you educate them about its benefits?

“A series of questions of what the customer’s goals are in the purchase of their next vehicle leads us to explaining the advantages of the CPO purchase. Those advantages are as follows:

  • Late-model, low-mileage vehicle, with more features than a new vehicle with less features
  • Manufacturer’s multi-point required inspection check and certification
  • Clean vehicle history report by Carfax
  • Extended original factory basic and powertrain warranty
  •  24-hour Roadside Assistance Additionally, the manufacturer may offer low special rate financing and free one-year maintenance plan.

“By purchasing a CPO vehicle with these benefits, the customer has then accomplished their purchase goals of safety, security, peace of mind, additional features and amenities, all within a lower price/payment range.” — Steve Kendrick, executive general manager, Infiniti of Gwinnett

“We regard CPO business as the entry portal to our dealership for our future customers. Even more so than a new-car sale, often the CPO customer is an opportunity to make a customer for life. The CPO customer, and frankly any customer considering a franchised dealership, is looking for a new-car experience. We strive to achieve two goals: Certify every vehicle that is eligible, and approach every customer with the same level of service they would expect on a new-car purchase.” — Fred Gallucci, executive manager, Southwest Infiniti

How can dealers increase CPO awareness among consumers? And are there any strategies you have to increase CPO awareness among consumers?

“We create awareness by making sure it is in all of our online content and listings, making sure the salespeople reinforce the message when responding to inquiries and making sure every car in inventory has certified plates, flags and window stickers. The salespeople also call attention to the benefits in every vehicle presentation.

“We signed up for the certification program as soon as Kia made it available; the value in being able to transfer Kia’s leading factory warranty made it an easy decision. Since then it has been a part of our culture. We certify everything eligible, our salespeople are fully trained on how to the sell the benefits and our finance department benefits greatly by wrapping the CPO contract. I feel it is critical for the message of CPO to (be) consistently and constantly reinforced throughout the process, from lead submission through delivery. Consumers are aware of CPO; the value is lost when dealerships try and sell around it.” — Sean Sellers, general manager, Kia of Des Moines

Over at Cobb County Kia, used-car director Blake Hodoh shared this advice (below in italics) on how dealers can increase CPO awareness among consumers:

1. Utilize all digital marketing tools that are centered around CPO inventory: 

2. Make sure all CPO vehicles have extensive descriptions and are badged on your website and lot as a certified pre-owned vehicle:
A. Eyebrows on the windshield of every CPO vehicle.
B. Certified badging of every CPO car on your website.
C. Use descriptive terminology like Kia Certified, 10 year 100,000 mile warranty, 150-point certified inspection.
D. In description section of each vehicle, always list Kia Certified.

Asked if there were any strategies the store had to increase CPO awareness among consumers, Hodoh said:

1. Make sure your staff is well versed and properly trained on a proper presentation of the certified program and its advantages. Always sell value.
2. Be sure to have ‘certified’ technicians with the proper training to certify a vehicle.
3. Make sure delivery process on a CPO is as first-class as a new-car delivery.
4. Make sure the used-car building has CPO badging and vehicles are all tagged with CPO flags.
5. Make sure a CPO is always offered to the customer as an option if the new-car doesn’t fit within their budget.

Hodoh added: “It is vital that all CPO vehicles are cosmetically up-to-par ... Spending an extra couple hundred dollars on reconditioning goes a long way in the evaluation of a certified car to a customer ... Make sure the whole dealership from service to sales buys into your certified program to make the buying process seamless. If you follow all of these procedures, it will not only increase profit in sales and service, but customer retention will be higher.”

To what degree has the Lexus CPO program served as a way to get aspirational luxury buyers into new cars at your store?

“The L/certified program by Lexus is a natural progression for customers aspiring to enter the luxury market. Lexus has eliminated the apprehension of buying a used car by backing their certified vehicles with a 2-year unlimited mileage extension to the factory warranty.

“Additionally, the L/certified program includes two years of complimentary maintenance, adding peace-of-mind and a significant savings for the consumer. The customer is given an opportunity to own a Lexus for less, we retain them for service and after a great ownership experience, the natural progression is to a new Lexus.” — Scott Brewer, general sales manager, Pohanka Lexus

How does your store boost the awareness/understanding of CPO among consumers?

“We realize that the best new cars will also become the best used cars. We advertise strongly through our website and all forms of digital and social media — and are always aware that the consumer’s word-of-mouth is our best form of advertising.” — John Barr, general manager, Findlay Toyota

How has the increase in off-lease supply impacted your CPO operations?

“Having an abundance of off-lease VWs readily available has made the sourcing of quality preowned cars much easier; we normally search for inventory from New York to Florida, but we’ve been able to narrow our search to the Mid-Atlantic Region, therefore, saving the dealership additional transportation fees.” — Blake Curtis, pre-owned sales manager, Lindsay Volkswagen of Dulles

“The increase in off-lease vehicles has allowed us to create an inventory of well-conditioned certified units to match the financing programs afforded to us via Volkswagen Credit, which in turn led to a substantial increase in certified sales.” — Michael Mazell, general manager, Stokes Volkswagen

Staff writers Nick Zulovich and Chris Hart-Williams contributed to this report. 

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