Karl Chevrolet, a relatively new entrant to the certified pre-owned world, has climbed to the top of the sales charts recently by practicing the same general principles instilled by owner Karl Moyer nearly 30 years ago.

Be customer-oriented, his son, General Sales Manager Bret Moyer, says, and run a structured business.

The Ankeny, IA, dealership is reaping the benefits of the conventional advice. It received the latest General Motors Certified-Used-Vehicle National Sales Leader award recently. The honor comes just two years after joining the CPO program in 2004.

“We didn’t go into it full force,” says Bret Moyer. “That first year, we only certified 75 vehicles, and the second year we certified about 500 vehicles.”

The numbers jumped considerably in 2006, when Karl Chevrolet sold more than 1,900 GM certified-used vehicles. Nationwide, GM sold 449,461 certified-used vehicles, ranking as the top-selling manufacturer-certified brand for the fifth year in a row.

“Karl Chevrolet’s position as the national sales leader is a strong testament to the peace of mind and value GM Certified brings to their customers,” says Paul Pejza, GM Certified Used Vehicles manager. “That commitment is reflected in their outstanding sales results.”

The younger Moyer attributes his success to the GM Certified Used Vehicle program, citing its extended warranties and incentive rates. Since Karl Chevrolet’s used vehicles became GM Certified, Moyer estimates sales have increased 15%-20%.

“We could see the value in selling GM Certified,” he says. “It cost us a little more to certify a vehicle but, if we sell that vehicle, we figure we can get an increase in profits rather than keep them the same or have them be less.”

He adds that reputation, inventory and determination also play a role in the dealership’s success.

“My Dad took (the program) on as a challenge,” Moyer says. “He’s one of those people who doesn’t like to finish second in anything. When he made his mind up and we focused on it, I feel that’s what probably made the biggest difference.”

By the time Karl Chevrolet opened its doors to the public in 1978, Karl Moyer was already a veteran dealer. The younger Moyer says his father always had a hand in the business, having owned small used-car lots and a Dodge dealership.

Bret Moyer grew up in the business and received his first management position in 1979. Since then, he’s served as both a new and used-car manager.

Yet very little has changed at Karl Chevrolet since its grand opening 29 years ago.

“And I feel that’s what’s gotten us where we are today,” Moyer says, citing that 70% of their business comes from repeat or referred customers. “We haven’t changed the philosophy of the way we do business since we started in 1978, and that’s taking care of the customer and giving them a good product. Of course, there’s a few other details, but that’s the basics.”

Winners of the 2006 GM Certified Used Vehicles Regional Sales Leader Awards are Fox Chevrolet of Laurel, in Laurel, MD; Maroone Chevrolet of Pembroke Pines, in Pembroke Pines, FL; Reliable Chevrolet, in Springfield, MO; and John L. Sullivan Chevrolet, in Roseville, CA.

egenoff@wardsauto.com