Vehicles aren’t sitting on dealer lots very long anymore. Edmunds recently published a list of eleven cars that have an average turn of fewer than ten days, and the median selling price was marked up above MSRP for them all. The case can easily be made for turning over inventory as fast as it arrives without needing to do anything than have it available for purchase, but there’s an opportunity for dealers to cash in on accessory sales.

Manufacturers have accessory sales targets for parts departments, and there are sure to be concerns about missing the mark because inventory isn’t around long enough to outfit them. It’s particularly true for the more expensive pickup trucks, where the average truck owner spends more than $2,250 on accessories. Without those sales, fixed ops departments are giving up labor hours on straightforward work for their techs and gross profit for the service and sales departments.

There’s good reason to get back into the habit of outfitting vehicles that arrive for inventory with popular accessories, both for customer satisfaction and for dealer profits.

Higher payments cut into after-the-sale affordability

If units arrive and aren’t dolled up in popular accessories before they are sold, the odds of a customer returning to the selling dealer for those accessories shrink drastically. With such a competitive market, it’s more likely they’ll choose a cheaper aftermarket supplier or installer or do without them for the immediate future. 

That’s partially due to the higher vehicle prices, stretching affordability for vehicle buyers. Dropping $2,000 on accessories for a pickup truck or $800 for a passenger vehicle may not seem like a savvy financial move. However, when those accessories are part of the financing agreement, and the cost is spread over the full financing term, it’s a much easier pill to swallow. It’s more affordable to pay $30 per month over 72 months than $2,000 in one shot.

Easier for shoppers to swallow than market adjustments

Accessory installations also offer an ability for dealers to add profit to units without making ‘market adjustments.’ By now, all car buyers are keen to market adjustments as a way for dealers to capitalize on low supply and strong consumer demand. And what it feels like is that they’re paying extra for no tangible benefit.

With accessorized vehicles, dealerships can build in additional profit per unit above full MSRP while providing extras that customers want.

Prepare fixed ops for short turnaround

First, this practice is for unsold units arriving for inventory, not for pre-sold vehicles with a predetermined selling price. Adding accessories and demanding more money should never be entertained without the customer’s prior approval. 

With unsold vehicles spending so few days on the lot before being sold and rolled, it leaves a tiny window for dealers to prep popular units with accessories. It needs to be coordinated between sales management and the parts and service departments. 

Choose accessories that are classic and common such as running boards, high-end mudguards, and deflector packages, and it’s best to use only OEM accessories, so they carry the same warranty as the new vehicle itself. Sales managers should know which unsold units are scheduled to arrive, and popular accessory bundles can be ordered ahead of time to coincide with the vehicle’s arrival. The perfect time to install the accessories is during new vehicle prep, so it never goes on the lot without its accessory package installed. 

And to prevent inventory and price misunderstandings, ensure that the window sticker reflects the accessories as soon as they’re added. 

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