This year's Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Assn. convention in Las Vegas paid particular attention to the growing number of dealers who attend.

SEMA and the National Automobile Dealers Assn. joined forces to put on a dealer day at last month's vehicle aftermarket and accessories extravaganza in Las Vegas.

Dealership parts, service and general managers were treated to lunch, dinner and keynote presentations by dealers who spoke of their accessory successes.

Tom Rudnai, president of Longo Toyota in El Monte, CA, and Derek Adolf of the 7-franchise Continental Auto Group based in Anchorage, AK, were two such notables.

Rudnai had do's and don'ts for dealers looking to get into accessories. Here are some of them from one of the biggest dealers in the U.S.:

  • Display accessories on vehicles not just on racks. No brainer.
  • Build a relationship with a supplier with a good reputation and a good warranty. No doubt.
  • Brand your own accessorized vehicle exclusive to your dealership (example: the Longo Toyota Tundra Defender). Cool.

Adolf sent his parts managers to the SEMA/AApex to open up their eyes to the vast array of non-OEM products available for the cars and trucks the dealerships sell. Otherwise, he says, they run the risk of having myopic vision.

He says he inked a deal with a major tire manufacturer at last year's show, and consequently now gets five shipping containers filled with tires directly sent to his dealerships to meet the winter-tire demand in Alaska.

Dave Skrobot is a Fixed Operations Trainer for Automotive Sales College/Dealer Strategies he can be reached at skroby@telus.net