Automotive Accessory Income as a Second Job

Posted by Insignia Group on May 10, 2023 9:43:12 AM

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“Accessories are an expression of what the customer is and what they want.”

-Tom Dunford

Vehicle Personalization is a multi-billion dollar industry that has been historically unaffected by the ebb and flow of the automotive industry. Despite the pandemic, chip shortage, inflation, and a host of other headaches, the business of accessories keeps chugging along. 

People love to personalize, and when dealerships understand that, they thrive. Selling accessories have a domino effect in a dealership—not only do you keep the customer’s money in-house, but you also add helpful incentives for your salespeople, create revenue for the parts department, establish better relationships with service, create repeat business, and boost CSI scores. The simple act of offering accessories (or not offering them) can either add all those benefits to your store or detract from it. 

Don’t take it from us. We’re just another vendor trying to sell you something, right? Here’s a recap of our conversation with someone who has boots on the ground. 

Tom Dunford, Insignia Group’s top-selling accessory salesperson of 2022, sat down with us to share his process and strategy for selling accessories. Tom has been selling cars at the same Chevrolet store in Minnesota for 34 years and consistently pockets an extra $2,000-$3,000 monthly from accessory incentives. 


We’re set up on a program where the salesperson is paid for selling accessories. It’s like having a second job. It’s extra income on top of whatever you make.


Q: Tell us about your process and strategy for selling accessories. When do you bring accessories into the conversation, and how do you bring it up?

A: I sell accessories the whole time I’m selling the vehicle. I weave accessories in at the same time. If I’m selling a truck, I ask them if they want to leave the box open or cover it up. Once they’ve already made their mind up about the truck, I switch to accessories. If someone says they don’t want to buy accessories that day, I print out anything we’ve talked about and send it home with them so they can get it later.

Q: Is there a good reason to get people to buy accessories at the point of sale, or do they often come back and buy them later?

A: You have to try and get them to buy that day. Sending a printout home with them is a last resort. Years ago, I went to an aftermarket truck company on my day off. I wanted to see how many people came in there and bought accessories. It’s crazy how many people came with the dealership license plate still on the car, and they’re buying running boards, tonneau covers, and mud flaps. It’s a gold mine. If you don’t sell it to them, customers leave and go find it. I wish I’d done it better sooner.

Q: Is there a culture of accessories at your dealership? Does your manager push for you to sell them? 

A: It’s not mandatory. Sometimes newer salespeople get excited about selling the car and forget about accessories or are afraid to bring it up. Really it’s a simple process we go through that’s fairly smooth. I’ve done it so many times; it’s repetitive for me. We’re set up on a program where the salesperson is paid for selling accessories. It's like having a second job. It’s extra income on top of whatever you make.

Q: What percentage of vehicles do you sell with accessories, and what are some of the most popular? 

A: Over 50% of the vehicles I sell have accessories on them. Most of the trucks I sell have running boards, tonneau covers, and mud flaps. Sometimes bug deflectors, slides, and roof racks too. If my customer comes in with accessories on their trade-in, it’s pretty much automatic that we’ll put a new one on their next car.

Q: Do customers ever try to take accessories off their trade-in and put them on the new vehicle? If so, how do you handle that?

A: Every once in a while, you have someone that’s moved an accessory over three times, car to car. I tell my customer that taking the accessory off is going to change the trade-in value that was offered since accessories add value to the car. And I encourage them, if you’re getting a brand new car, why not put a new accessory on it and take good care of it? New accessories come with factory warranty too.

Q: Do you have any advice for newer salespeople about selling accessories?

A: If I walk outside on the used lot, you’ll see about 90% of trucks have tonneau covers, running boards, mud flaps, slides, and sprayed-in liners. They almost all have it on there, whether they got it from us or somewhere else. You can do that with any brand or vehicle; just see what people are putting on them and then talk to new customers about those. Plus, accessories are part of the experience, and that affects CSI score, and that’s really important to everyone these days.

Q: Extra money is a good reason for you to sell accessories. What is a good reason that the customer should buy it from you? 

A: If they have any problem with the accessory, we’re here to fix it and take care of them. We get things under warranty so they can be repaired or replaced if needed. We have a good warranty process with our accessories, and our parts department stands behind it. You can’t get that from an accessory you get online or at Wal-Mart.

Q: How many cars do you sell per month, and what’s your average commission on accessories?

A: “I sell 50-70 cars a month at a dealership that sells about 100 new and 150 used every month. Selling accessories on them gives me anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 extra on my paycheck at the end of the month.”

Q: Any closing thoughts?

A: “Accessories are an expression of what the customer is and what they want. If they don’t get it from you, they’re going somewhere else to get it.”

Insignia Group Can Help

For more than two decades, Insignia Group has been helping dealerships and individual salespeople sell more accessories at the point of sale. And today, we’re integrated with major digital retailers so you can offer accessories to online shoppers as well. Our visual accessory catalog is equipped with the latest configurators and dealer custom pricing to make accessory sales a breeze. 

We can help you get accessories in front of your customers early and often, no matter where they’re shopping from. And more accessories mean lower turnover rates on the sales floor, repeat business, profit in the parts department, satisfaction in the service lane, and higher CSI scores. There’s no reason not to sell accessories. What are you waiting for? Contact us today for a demonstration of our system, and find out what Insignia Group can do for your dealership.

Topics: Dealership, tips, accessory sales, OEM