With dealer-installed accessories, such as Visteon's new $1,500 rear seat video entertainment system, there are two sets of customers.
So says David F. Peace, global aftermarket operations vice president for Visteon, Ford Motor Co.'s parts-making subsidiary.
One set of customers is the consumer themselves, the people whom Visteon is trying to convince that such an entertainment center adds value to their vehicles and pleasure to their mobile lives.
The other set of customers are dealers and their sales staff, whom Visteon is trying to convince that pitching such equipment adds substantially to their profits.
Sometimes, the dealers can be the harder sell when it comes to pushing aftermarket accessories, says Mr. Peace.
"Dealership sales people, after making the sale on the vehicle, will often will back off on making the sale of the aftermarket accessories," he says. "That's too bad because they're missing a big opportunity."
Car sales people say it's sometimes hard enough to sell the vehicle, let alone launch into a separate sales presentation of the accessories, especially if a customer starts going into sensory overload.
"It's something to get over," says Mr. Peace.
In the case of the entertainment system and similar accessories, it's a question of selling features and benefits, says Mr. Peace.
"It should be a relatively easy sell," he says. "It's one of those things that people can be excited about having in their vehicle."
It can also net a dealership a $300-400 profit which is more than they make on the sale of some vehicles, according to Mr. Peace.
The entertainment system features Nintendo games, a video cassette player, a video camera playback, a 6.4-in. LCD display screen, headphones and, of course, requisite cupholders.
Launched in May, it's currently available on Ford Windstars and Mercury Villagers. It will soon expand to other vehicles, and be offered for non-Ford Motor Co. products.
Mr. Peace expects to sell 30,000-40,000 units this year.
Social critics may scorn rear seat entertainment systems as high-tech pacifiers for children - and some adults - who could make better use of their time than playing video games down the highway.
But Mr. Peace, a Cornell graduate, foresees a day in the near future when just about every vehicle will contain such aftermarket equipment.
"It will be like having a car stereo system is today," he says. "People will say, 'I want my vehicle TV!' They're going to be big."
Expect children, who are the main users, to be involved in the purchase decision.
Will that take the form of kids kicking and screaming on the showroom floor, throwing a tantrum to get their way with mom and dad?
"Well, yeah, if you can get the kids to the dealership," quips Mr. Peace.
Meanwhile, Visteon this fall will launch new body appearance aftermarket packages for the Mercury Cougar and the Ford Mustang and F-150 pickup.
They'll cost about $1,500 depending on what the dealer charges. They'll consist of bumper fascia, rear treatment and, for the Cougar, a scoop.
"It's perfectly designed to look original to the vehicle even though it's aftermarket," says Mr. Peace.
He adds, "There's a big trend toward personalization of vehicles. More so with truck owners than anyone else. Most of their accessory purchases are within 30 days of purchasing the vehicles. But they don't always buy their accessories from dealers."
Visteon is also trying to encourage Ford and Lincoln Mercury dealers to sell new and remarketed parts to independent repair shops in their areas.
Says Mr. Peace, "All the Ford dealer has to do is take the phone call from the shop down the road, put the order in the pickup, deliver it and make the profit, thank you."
Some skeptical dealers may see that as coddling the competition.
But Mr. Peace responds that a vehicle owner who patronizes an independent repair shop would not necessarily otherwise go to a Ford dealership.
"It's a different type of customer," he says. "But it makes sense for the dealer to get in on the action by selling parts to the independent shops."