There are two areas of potential growth for many new-car dealerships' fixed operations.
The first is maximizing shop revenue by increasing volume and efficiency. The second is fulfilling the growing accessory desires of today's buyers.
One feeds into the other. But the challenges with selling more accessories are many. Let's look at some of them, then some solutions.
Are the accessories options sold in the often-overwhelmed F&I office? And, yes, they're often overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of products being sold there to begin with.
Do vehicle salespersons present the accessories, or do they show some of the products by way of a parts and service department walkaround with the customers?
In that walkaround, does the parts person go over the options, OEM and independent aftermarket? I'm a firm believer in supporting the OEM as much as possible. The problem lies in inventorying, parts availability (how quick do we get them?) and price.
Offering an accessory-selling service to dealers is JackGear, a company with two ways to show and sell customers accessories — and then get them delivered quickly so the dealership needn't maintain a vast inventory.
One is a showroom display kiosk showing popular applications.
The other is a touch-screen kiosk that displays and then prints out pictures of what the particular accessories will look like on the customer's particular vehicle.
Both displays also show the customer how monthly payments on purchased accessories can be melded into the financing of the vehicle purchase.
This way customers can walk into the F&I office armed with a payment plan, pictures and part numbers for accessories they want on their new car or truck.
The business manager might tweak the APR rate and terms before a key stroke orders the accessories from the local distributor. In most cases, the accessory is delivered to the dealership and ready for installation within 24 hours.
David Swan, president of CPI Marketing, Jackgear's parent company, knows all too well the difficulties of stocking and selling more accessories.
He says: “The big challenge is having a system which allows for the dealer to competitively sell accessories without having to inventory vast numbers of part numbers, yet still get them in time for a quick delivery.”
He says some dealers say they make more money on accessories than on the cars they sell.
There are other ways for dealerships to achieve greater accessory sales.
One proactive Nissan dealership has taken it upon itself to appoint an accessories salesperson. The fixed operations department pays him.
He works with customers on accessory features, benefits and monthly payments. Accessory sales have shot up accordingly.
Industry data shows that most buyers accessorize their vehicles within the first six weeks of the purchase. If the dealership doesn't get that business before the customer drives away in his or her new car, chances are an independent shop will get it.
Dealerships shouldn't lose this business to the independents. It should be kept in-house where it belongs and where the best services and products are.
A concerted effort is required to do that. Dealers should actively tap into this expanding market, not passively let it slip by.
Dave Skrobot ([email protected]/1-888-681-7355) is vice president of fixed operations training for the Automotive Sales College.