By Jeremy Beck, Vice President Sales Operations, APCO Holdings/EasyCare
Certified pre-owned (CPO) programs deliver a win-win for both consumers and dealerships. Consumers appreciate the peace of mind that comes with owning a quality vehicle and the protection that a limited warranty provides against rising costs of vehicle maintenance. Dealers like the higher profit margins, higher F&I attachment rates, and the opportunity to build long-term service relationships with customers.
Yet some dealers downplay their CPO offerings because they would rather put customers into new vehicles. However, the decision between new and “new to me” for a customer often comes down to finances, individual preferences, and other factors that are beyond a salesperson’s control.
Rather than downplay your CPO offerings, realize that CPO programs attract customers who are willing to pay more for a vehicle in good condition and who often purchase added protection such as vehicle service contracts. Even the limited warranty will bring customers back into your dealership for service, so the potential lifetime value of CPO customers is high.
Your dealership has a lot to gain by properly merchandising and marketing the value of your dealership’s CPO program. Here are a few tips.
Selling is like telling a story. When promoting your CPO program, tell the consumer a story about your brand, why they should do business with you, and how your CPO vehicles provide a positive ownership experience. Don’t assume that consumers know the value of what you are selling.
One of the most effective and inexpensive marketing strategies I have seen is to dedicate several slides to your CPO program in the picture carousels on your Vehicle Detail Pages (VDPs) and third-party listing sites. After the first few photos of the vehicle, insert a slide that clearly states this vehicle is certified. Include another slide that details the benefits of your CPO program in a bulleted list, and display a photo of the inspection checklist signed by a technician.
The very first words in your vehicle description should read “Certified, pre-owned…” When you upload listings to third-party sites, be sure to click on the certified box. Otherwise, the listings won’t show up in certified vehicle search results.
Additionally, promote your CPO program benefits on every single advertising touchpoint, including television, newspaper, billboards, direct mail, email, social media, SEO, and banner advertising.
A CPO program provides you with the opportunity to create a brand promise and to build a reputation that you stand behind every vehicle you sell. As a result, your CPO vehicles should be marketed differently—and more aggressively—than your regular pre-owned vehicles.
When merchandising your vehicles, park your CPO vehicles close to the road where people can see them as they drive by. Display point-of-sale materials in your showroom and service department that promote the benefits of your CPO program.
When a customer sees a CPO vehicle they like online and decides to visit your dealership, it’s important to create a seamless online to offline experience. What a car shopper sees online they should also see on the vehicle. Paste the CPO inspection list next to the vehicle label on the window. Include another sticker that explains the value proposition and benefits of CPO vehicles, including limited warranty information.
I always recommend dealerships stick with certifying vehicles that they know will be a good fit for their market niche. That way it’s easier to educate salespeople about the features and benefits of your CPO vehicles. Also, put a big “Certified” stamp on the cover of every CPO deal jacket, giving the F&I manager an opening to talk about the certification process and lay the groundwork for upsell opportunities.
CPO vehicles are more in demand than ever, but dealers should not assume that consumers will stumble across the certified vehicles on their lots. Special vehicles warrant special merchandising and marketing efforts. Take pride in your CPO program and actively promote it as part of your brand promise.
About the Author
Jeremy Beck brings over 20 years experience in the automotive industry to the EasyCare and GWC University training teams. Previously, Jeremy was a National Training Manager with expertise in F&I, and spent more than 14 years in various retail positions, from sales to Managing Partner.