Through the program, Marshall is trying to grow awareness of certified vehicles.
“I started selling cars 20 years ago,” Stroda said. “Twenty years ago, you had to educate the customer on what you had and your why-buys. Now, a customer comes in and they’ve already done their homework.”
Customers are indeed getting better at knowing a manufacturer’s certification requirements, Stroda said. And they “know what they’re paying the extra money for,” such as a warranty or roadside assistance, Stroda said.
Marshall’s service and parts and finance departments benefit from the practice, too.
Employees try to acquire vehicles they know can be certified with little issue. Those are often gleaned from wholesale auctions and trade-ins by customers who leased a new vehicle. Trade-ins, Stroda said, are “typically the best ones” for certification.
A service technician gets paid an extra half-hour’s time to conduct a more thorough 125-point inspection on a vehicle that’s up for certification, Stroda said.
“Typically, they all get new tires,” Stroda said. “Brakes have to be at half [brake pad life] or better because the last thing you want to do is sell someone a vehicle that says it’s been inspected, bring it back in, and the brakes are worn out in the first 3,000 miles.”
The lengthier inspection sets a certified vehicle apart from other vehicles that are reconditioned, Stroda said.
“You want to do a quality inspection because your price [is at the] top end of the market,” he said.
The certification program is also fruitful for Marshall’s finance department: 70 percent of certified-vehicle buyers will sign up for an extended service contract, Stroda said.
For certified vehicles 5 years old or younger with less than 75,000 miles, that service contract covers seven years from the date the vehicle was originally sold or when it reaches 100,000 miles on its odometer, whatever comes first.