Honda of Tiffany Springs in Kansas City, Mo., uses a big screen to post big accessory profits.
In 2007, dealer Bobby Hennessey began having salespeople pitch accessories to customers sooner and then rewarding employees for accessory sales.
In 2015, he added Reynolds and Reynolds' AddOnAuto, a digital tool that lets customers accessorize a virtual depiction of their vehicles on a big-screen display while they work out a deal. It is one of several technology tools that dealerships are tapping to boost accessory sales.
Neither Hennessey nor Reynolds would disclose the cost of AddOnAuto. But before using the tool, the dealership's average revenue was $502 per vehicle from accessory sales. Now, it is $770, with a profit margin of about 30 percent. Accessory sales account for about 20 percent of total new-car revenue. Honda of Tiffany Springs sells about 2,500 new and used vehicles a year.
"Honda has pushed dealers at meetings to sell more accessories," Hennessey said. "It helps customers turn the Honda car into their car."
Hennessey said introducing accessories as part of the sales process adds seven minutes on average to his transaction times. It's worth it, he insists.
"It's another step in the sales process, but dealers who aren't doing this are missing the boat," Hennessey said. "Some guys don't want to mess with it, but front-end margins are getting smaller."
Nissan North America is pushing dealers to boost accessory sales with the help of technology. About four years ago, Nissan started offering the Nissan Personalization Studio kiosk to display available accessories. About two years ago, Nissan also began providing in-store trainers to coach dealership staff on accessory sales.
Dealerships that use the kiosk and have a process in place to pitch accessory sales post gross sales that average 19 percent higher than those that don't, Wally Burchfield, Nissan North America's vice president of aftersales, said.
"We can't be successful without dealers making money," he said. "Accessory sales is a profit center."