Yamaha Announces Certified Pre-Owned Program

A combination of warranty and financing promises to entice used PWC buyers into dealerships. The program promises that buyers will be able to "purchase used units with 100 percent confidence," instead of purchasing from third-party sellers.

According to Yamaha, its dealers are missing out on a lot of personal watercraft sales. The competition isn’t Sea-Doo or Kawasaki. It’s everyday PWC owners who buy used vehicles in private-party transactions; transactions that are currently estimated to account for more than 90 percent of the 100,000-plus used PWC sales that Yamaha says take place every year. That’s a lot of consumers doing business outside the doors of a Yamaha dealership.

In early April, the brand revealed that it’s about to change this situation. The solution is one that automakers have already demonstrated to bear fruit — the certified pre-owned concept. Yamaha hopes that, by following suit, it can provide a way for dealers to grab a piece of what the brand calls the “high volume and untapped” used-vehicle market.

The Yamaha Watercraft Certified Pre-Owned Program promises to bring used buyers into dealerships where they can “purchase used units with 100 percent confidence,” instead of purchasing from third-party sellers. It also promises to relieve customers of used products, so that they can buy new models while giving the dealer an opportunity to profit on those used units. In theory, the customer experience is better due to the fact that CPO models are inspected and warranted. Dealers also get the opportunity to build relationships with new customers who have future up-sell potential, as well as increase sales of parts, accessories, apparel and additional years of Yamaha Extended Service.

According to Yamaha National Sales Manager Bryan Seti, it’s a program that received a warm welcome at the company’s annual dealer meeting. “It was one of the biggest ovations we had at the meeting,” he says. “This is something that dealers really wanted from us.”

It’s no secret that Yamaha does extensive consumer research. A portion of this research revealed that 25 percent of used buyers considered buying a new unit before making their purchase. Seventy-six percent of those used buyers noted that a certified pre-owned program was appealing.

To participate in the program, dealers will pay an annual $349 fee that covers numerous in-store marketing materials as well as online promotions. Dealers are
allowed to buy used models manufactured within the last six model years with less than 200 hours on the engine. Each WaveRunner will then undergo a 35-point inspection to qualify. Those that pass can then be resold with a 12-month warranty — or perhaps even longer.

“Many units sold at boat shows already had multiple year warranties already on them. So 12 months could easily move up to an 18-, 24- or even 36-month warranty depending on what we had at the boat show.”

Dealers pay an individual $349 certification fee per boat. It covers the Y.E.S. warranty, as well as special flooring programs from GE (30 days free and
reduced to follow), extended dealer curtailments (first payment not required for six months), special financing (zero percent interest for six months, one point below after six months) and the certification process and administration.

As Seti notes, Yamaha is in a unique position to introduce a program like this to the industry.

“That $349 allows the dealer to offer that warranty. It allows him to offer financing. Those are things customers are not going to be able to get when they buy on Craigslist or from an independent buyer.

“Yamaha is in a unique situation — we carry our own warranty, carry our own financing and flooring. We have partners, but we share in the profit and loss. We have a big vested interest and have the infrastructure to not have to work with third parties alone.”

“It’s not just ‘here you go, here’s a program, run with it.’ We’re going to back it up, because we really see the long-term benefits. If there’s a customer who likes personal watercraft, we need to make sure he stays in the fold and we know who he is.”

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