Tom Carre was a sales manager at a Washington, D.C., Buick dealership when he recognized the importance and profit potential of the accessories business to a dealership.
'We had 38 cars on display in the showroom, and I was bored with them,' he recalled. The dealer insisted his customers wouldn't go for accessories, so in the middle of the night, Carre sneaked two cars out of the showroom and took them to local restylers.
Seeing only a photograph of the restyled car, a schoolteacher bought the first one, and the dealership made $1,200 over its average per-vehicle gross profit. The second, a white Buick Regal to which the restyler added blue accents and a vinyl top, was on display at the curb only a couple of hours when two salesmen burst into Carre's office. Both had sold it and were arguing over who had the rights to it.
Now director of fixed operations for Lane Pontiac-Buick-GMC in Melbourne, Fla., and a member of the General Motors Fixed Operations Advisory Board, Carre gave this advice to dealers at a NADA workshop on building profits with accessory programs: Try it.
'You'll be afraid to do that first car, but just try it,' he said.
Second, build enthusiasm for selling restyled cars and accessories throughout the dealership. In that vein, Carre said dealers should spread the profits on restyled cars, which are considerable, throughout the dealership. Give the parts department a cut. Let the new- and used-car departments have a piece. Have the service or body shop install the accessories if they have the skills to do so.
Ellen McKoy, director of marketing for the Specialty Equipment Market Association, said the trade group has found truck and auto accessories account for more than $15.2 billion in sales annually.
Jon Titman, national sales manager for E&G Classics Inc. of Columbia, Md., told dealers a small or mid-sized dealership can add $150,000 to $175,000 a year in gross profits with automotive accessories; a multifranchise dealership can add $500,000 to $750,000 a year.