The Industry's Leading Source For F&I, Sales And Technology

Special Finance®

Accessory to Profits

May 2010, F&I and Showroom - Cover Story

by Justina Ly

Rows and rows of BMWs with tricked-out engines, eye-popping interiors, flashy rims and booming stereo systems fill Pacific BMW’s outdoor showroom. It’s like a scene right out of “The Fast and the Furious,” the 2001 popcorn flick about street racers in Los Angeles. But there’s more to this event than meets the eye.

One part car show, one part sales promotion, the event, dubbed Accessory Fest, is like a mini convention for BMW owners and enthusiasts. In addition to the nearly 125 show vehicles lining the showroom at the Glendale, Calif., dealership, there are vendor displays from nine aftermarket accessory companies, live entertainment and free lunch for visitors. There’s even valet parking and a red carpet to welcome attendees.

Pacific BMW’s Arnold Alsua, parts director, says the event, which is free to the public, appeals to people who have never set foot in the dealership before. “They get attracted by the fact that in one event they can see vendors they don’t normally see,” he says. “These aren’t regular mom-and-pop tuners. We’ve invited top-end tuners.”

By tuners, Alsua means individuals or companies that modify OEM vehicles to look good and go fast. Some of the aftermarket industry’s major tuners, including Vorsteiner Group and AC Schnitzer, have displays at the event. They attract BMW enthusiasts and wannabe street racers, just as Alsua predicts. Nearly 650 people are in attendance.

With the dealership’s staff working the event, it’s clear that Accessory Fest isn’t just about stylish cars. Salespeople and managers oversee the registration booth, helping visitors sign up for raffles. Staff from the parts and service departments mingle with attendees and manage the cashier’s area, which serves an endless line of customers snapping up BMW Performance parts, T-shirts, model cars, coffee mugs and other paraphernalia.

The event rakes in $22,000 in gross sales of parts, accessories and apparel, and funnels in 180 new-car leads a week later. Despite all the hoopla surrounding the event, Alsua says there’s another strategy at play. “If we sell something, that’s a plus, but that’s not what it’s all about,” he says. “For me, it’s really about planting the seed, impressing the customer with what we have to offer.”

Planting the Seeds

What Pacific BMW has to offer is a well-oiled parts department, one that Alsua says reigns supreme in volume sales of BMW Performance accessories. But when new-vehicle sales were sluggish last summer, Alsua knew his department could do more to help the dealership’s shrinking bottom line. That’s when he came up with a simple plan.

For one weekend, Alsua wanted to display a fully accessorized car near the service area and set up a table filled with promotional materials touting BMW Performance accessories. But before that even happened, Alsua started getting calls from vendors interested in participating. That’s when he knew he had a valuable marketing opportunity on his hands.

Knowing the job would be too big for one person, Alsua turned to the Hozman Group, an auto marketing and event-planning agency. The firm specializes in producing Hot Import Nights events — car shows featuring modified and accessorized vehicles — in major cities such as Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. What Alsua had in mind was nowhere near the scale of the events the agency typically produces, but organizing a show for a brand-conscious dealership did present its own challenges.

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email: