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Sidney Haider

Sidney Haider President

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Lessons from SEMA as Dealers Head Into NADA: Aftermarket is Hot – Take Advantage!

Dealers Can Increase Website Stickiness, Visitors and Customer Retention with Accessories Marketing


It is no secret: accessories and the aftermarket are booming -- and there was no better proof of this than this fall’s SEMA show. So, why do so many dealerships keep accessories a secret from their websites, online marketing efforts and showroom floor?

Consider: 2013’s SEMA was one of the busiest I have ever seen, and I have been attending SEMA for over a decade SEMA’s latest report estimates that over $32 billion in accessories/aftermarket products were sold in 2012, a huge jump from $28 billion in 2009 at the height of the recession. And, over 126,000 attended SEMA 2013 – a record number  - and they were visiting nearly 2400 exhibitors*.  As I walked the floor, I could literally feel the whir of accessories ready to jump onto vehicles.

Consumer wallets have loosened, pent up vehicle demand is released and consumers are showing their new vehicle love by accessorizing their new vehicles … but more often than not, that accessories love is happening off the dealership website and outside the dealership showroom, at auto parts websites and stores.  Why? Because dealers have not adopted and embraced accessories as revenue drivers and marketing ‘secret weapons’. A huge lost opportunity.

And here is something else that is no secret, conversion on dealership websites has plummeted since the heady early days of the Internet when dealers could count on 20% conversion – now it is about 4% (and I have seen reports that put it as low as 2%)…and this at a time when more and more consumers are figuring out how to find their own way to dealership websites. Engaging those consumers once they find the dealership website – before they flit off somewhere else - is ever more important to dealers as they compete in the digital battlefield. 

And what better way to capture interest than engaging website visitors in dressing up their dream car with accessories? When a car shopper has reached a dealership website, he/she usually has a good idea of the vehicle he/she is interested in. Increasing their passion for that vehicle,their time spent on the website and, importantly, the potential revenue forthat vehicle sale, could not be more important – and the right accessories strategy can do just that.

And once that customer has purchased? With shrinking margins on new car sales, customer retention could not be more critical.  Again, accessories marketing can play a key role in retaining that customer in that critical six-month window between purchase and the first service appointment - when most dealerships have nothing to message other than standard service reminders. Connecting with some cool accessories when that love affair with their vehicle is still in bloom is agreat way to engage – and retain. 

As NADA 2014 approaches, I believe it is time for dealers to take note of the lesson of this year’s record SEMA show, while they also take a long hard look at their dealership website and customer retention strategies:  dealers are spending massive amounts of marketing dollars to get consumers to their websites, but what are they doing once they get them there? There are many things dealers should be doing on their websites to make them stickier and more convertible – from better functionality, optimization, imagery and utilizing customer engagement tools like chat – and there are plenty of vendors evangelizing these strategies, but utilizing accessories for website engagement and marketing is an oft-overlooked, but easy, cost-effective strategy that works – as is utilizing accessories to increase retention.

These will be key messages in my NADA Workshop this year,“Market Beyond the Ordinary with Accessories.” My workshop will be based on proven best practices implemented in hundreds of dealerships that, on average, are realizing $500 a copy in accessories sales.  In addition to providing best practices on utilizing accessories to make that website stickier, I will also focus on helping dealerships solve the communication gap between vehicle purchase and first service visit, provide a proven primer on how to turn customers into dealership evangelists on social media and teach how smart accessories marketing can help dealerships leap up the Google results ladder and keep customers coming back.

The sales numbers tell the story: there are millions of consumers set to fall in love with their new cars in 2014, and a $32 billion plus aftermarket opportunity:  you can use accessories and that love affair (as they dream about the perfectly accessorized dream car) to help consumers find their way to your website, to keep them there when they do - and once they have purchased that vehicle, to keep the love going – all while revving up profits. 

For today’s dealership, accessories aren’t just something to “add on”, they are also a compelling marketing driver and website engagement tool. 

Want to know more? Join me as I evangelize the benefits of using accessories to market beyond the extraordinary (and rev up profits and retention) in my NADA workshop in New Orleans, Friday January 24th, Saturday January 25th and Sunday January 26th. Sponsored by NADA University, “Market Beyond the Ordinary with Accessories” is part of the NADA Parts track. Attendees will be seated on a first-come, first-served basis, and requires no additional registration. To learn more about this workshop, and to register for NADA 2014, please visit



Sidney Haider is president of AddOnAuto (AOA) and has over 22 years of broad-based experience in retail automotive Internet sales, dealership management, marketing, and business development. He is renowned for his revolutionary processes and practices for increasing accessories sales in dealerships, and has traveled the country helping hundreds of dealerships diversify revenues and increase profits with his streamlined approach to accessories sales that improves, integrates and streamlines the entire process across dealership departments and sales teams.

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