LAVAL, Quebec -

Mazda De Laval was focusing on certifying vehicles in-house long before the Mazda Canada certified pre-owned program hit the market.

Now, store president Richard Labelle says, the dealership capitalizes on the fledgling certified program — launched in 2012 — by promoting their “like-new” used cars, which don’t take long to hit the lots after Mazda De Laval adds them to their inventory.

In fact, Labelle says after a car comes in from auction or trade, the staff has only 24 hours to put the vehicle on the Web.

And the vehicle has to be inspected, cleaned, fixed and certified before it goes on the lot.

This quick turnaround takes training, says Labelle. He personally trains each staff member and says “buying the cars and doing the recon — we have a specific way we do it all.”

“We have salesmen that know exactly what is supposed to come with the car. The inspection has been done; repairs have been made. And when a customer comes in to the showroom, they know all this has been taken care of already,” he explained.

One of the oldest Mazda dealerships in Quebec, the store has been in operation since 1954, and is located in the Montreal Suburb of Laval.

With a facility on the Chomedey Boulevard, Labelle says the dealership gets “receives a high amount of traffic.”

So much so that the store has a separate 17,000-square-foot building for its used department, which houses an 11-car showroom, and never has less than 120 used vehicles for sale on the lots.

Labelle says a key part of the dealership’s customer service strategy is “the way we tackle used cars.”

The dealership sells an average of 500 to 550 used vehicles per year, and the used department has been a focus since the store’s inception.

In fact, before the Mazda Canada CPO program launched in 2012, Mazda De Laval was already certifying vehicles through an in-house program.

“We were already certifying our cars, giving all customers a six-month, 10,000-kilometer bumper-to-bumper warranty already,” said Labelle, noting this used focus has allowed the store to become one of the top Mazda certified retailers in the country today.

The store’s in-house program was so successful, in fact, that Labelle was asked to serve on the board to create the Mazda CPO program during its inception.

“We played a part in designing Mazda CPO program. It took about six months to get the CPO program up and running, and it was an instant success,” said Labelle.

And it won’t take Mazda De Laval’s customers long to become familiar with the Mazda CPO program when they walk into Mazda De Laval’s used-vehicle showroom.

“The building is all wrapped up with certified marketing — everywhere you look, you can read or see something promoting the CPO vehicles,” said Labelle.  

A Like-New Experience

As customers stream into the used-vehicle facility at the dealership, Labelle said, many shoppers mistake it for the new-vehicle showroom.

He says this is because of the lengths the dealership goes through to make sure every used vehicle is “like-new” before it makes it onto the lot of the showroom.

“Let’s say the car has 50-percent brake power left when we get it, so we change the brakes, so it gives your customer peace-of-mind, and you can be sure you won’t have to come back to the dealership for repairs — even the wiper blades are under warranty. And there are no dents or dings on any of our used vehicles,” said Labelle.

And many of these same shoppers become repeat customers, says Labelle, providing the dealership with its best source of used inventory down the road.

“The best inventory outlet is basically our own customers, and our service customers, who supply trade-ins,” said Labelle.

The dealership does utilize auctions, as well, to purchase quality, used vehicles, but being part of a dealer group helps, Labelle said.

“We are in a dealership group, so we are buying off cars for the group stores. Mazdas, any kind of cars. We know the history. At auction, they are too expensive. Since we are in a dealer group, we can take cars other dealers within the group don’t want. We take Mazda or Audi and sell it ourselves,” he said.

And once the Mazda vehicles are certified, Labelle says they serve as a big draw to the store.

“You (the customer) can exchange the car in 30 days. You have an interest rate of 0.9 percent. You have two years of extra powertrain warranty. It’s a no-brainer. You have roadside assistance,” said Labelle. “We don’t hide CPO in the price of the car. The customer is very happy. They want the extra warranties.”

And the company’s used strategy seems to be panning out.

In fact, Labelle said, 95 percent of the store’s used customers end up buying certified Mazdas.

Editor's Note: For more on Mazda De Laval, see the Auto Remarketing Canada Digital Magazine Power 150 Issue, set to be released next week.