LAS VEGAS – Car sales people also pitch vehicle accessories at Burien Toyota in suburban Seattle. In contrast, designated salesmen sell accessories at Rick Hendrick Toyota in Fayetteville, NC.

Despite the different approaches, both dealerships enjoy healthy accessory sales. Many dealerships can’t say the same.

“It’s a $29 billion market opportunity with high gross margins that a lot of dealers let slip by,” says Mike Martinez, chief sales and marketing officer for Izmocars, a firm that offers accessory configurators to dealerships.

With a concerted effort, monthly accessory revenues went from $5,000 to $20,000 at Burien Toyota, Sales Manager Kirk Spencer says at the recent DrivingSales Executive Summit presented with WardsAuto.

“A lot of it is in the timing,” he says. “If you show an accessory too early, the customer wants it thrown in. It’s more successful doing it after closing the vehicle deal and presenting it as a monthly payment.”

Burien showroom sales people use word tracks to sell accessories. Some naturally are good at it; others need to “start out with baby steps,” Spencer says.

After Rick Hendrick Toyota started taking accessory sales more seriously, monthly revenues doubled, says Robert Acosta, one of two accessory salespersons at the dealership. “If we are under $100,000, it’s a bad month.”

Having designated sellers solves “everyone quoting different prices,” a problem existing at the store when car sales people in general sold accessories, too he says.

The best time for an accessories presentation is during the lull when the car buyer’s paperwork is being done, Acosta says. “We’ll ask the customers how the buying experience was, pump up the dealership, show them around and then show them the configurator.”

With online configurators, customers can pick and choose accessories and see on a computer screen what the equipment looks like on specific vehicles.

“The salesperson turns the computer over to the customer, who can then get a strong visualization,” Martinez says. “It’s less effective if sales people do presentations using brochures. That can lead to the customer seeing ‘discount’ on the salesperson’s head.”

Selling accessories in the finance and insurance office has pitfalls, he says. “We recommend doing it before going into F&I.”

There’s an accessory for every budget and price range, Spencer says. “We’ll sell everything from $12 touch-up paint to $3,000 lift kits.”

Side-molding enhancements are the best-selling accessory at his store. It is navigation systems at Acosta’s dealership. Nationwide, custom wheels remain hugely popular, Martinez says.

sfinlay@wardsauto.com