Offering certified used vehicles for sale at your store can be a powerful selling tool, helping you move more new, used and certified used cars. Product manager John Blain discusses how you can leverage these vehicles to drive more traffic and close more deals.

How Can Certified Vehicles Drive New- and Used-Car Sales at My Store?

Even with the current slowdown in the U.S. economy, manufacturer-certified used vehicles continue to gain in popularity. Not only do these late-model cars cost less than buying new, but they also offer the extended factory warranties and the comfort, convenience and safety features car buyers want. By including certified used cars in your inventory and effectively marketing them to in-market shoppers, you create a “third choice” for consumers to consider.

To understand how the availability of certified cars drives car-buying decisions, Cars.com has been running an in-depth analysis with Experian Automotive. More than 300,000 leads submitted to dealerships during a 14-month period were matched with state vehicle registration records to determine what shoppers ultimately purchased versus what they initially planned to buy. (An intercept survey captured the consumer’s stated intentions.*) The study found that participating in manufacturer certification programs helped dealers to sell more:

  • New cars. In terms of key demographics (e.g., income, education level and home ownership), certified vehicle shoppers are more like new-car shoppers than used. When these customers learn more about the brand they’re considering and discover they can afford more than they thought, many will opt for a new car. In fact, 30 percent of certified lead senders on Cars.com instead drive home in new cars.*
  • Used cars. Although the shopper submitted an inquiry for a certified car, a test drive may reveal that it’s not a good fit. Dealers who take advantage of this opportunity to open their inventory can switch the car buyer to a better match and save the sale. The more options you make available to prospects, the more likely they are to make a purchase at your store.
  • Certified used cars. As car buyers weigh their options online, they increasingly consider manufacturer-certified vehicles for the reasons already noted. Through October, in-market shoppers visiting Cars.com have submitted 40 percent more email and telephone inquiries on certified used cars than they did for the first 10 months of 2007.**

Leverage Brand Loyalty
Seventy percent of car buyers who purchased a certified used vehicle from a Cars.com dealer indicate that they would again buy the same brand.* To position yourself to win that deal, be sure to provide a professional sales experience and to stay in contact through the service department and ongoing marketing. Capitalizing on this relationship could yield additional repeat and referral business, underscoring the benefits of certified used-car programs to the bottom line.

* Cars.com & Experian Automotive Study, 2006-2008
** Cars.com Internal Reporting, January–October 2008