In 2001, a small group of vehicle consignors huddled to banter opinions on how to improve industry knowledge and market awareness. From that idea, the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) came into being.
For 2020, new challenges and opportunities face consignors, and the Alliance, which tags itself “The Voice of the Consignor,” is leaning into the future and asking the industry to travel the road ahead alongside it.
“Because of the change coming for our industry, sharing knowledge and creating awareness is a top priority for the IARA, so consignors can make the best strategic decisions a top priority,” said Paul Seger, the Alliance’s new two-term president. He also is executive vice president, asset remarketing, for consignor Element Fleet Management.
The IARA met in August in Chicago for its 18th annual summer roundtable, during which new leadership took office. Seger replaced Tim Meta, vice president and manager of remarketing for Fifth Third Bank. Jeff Bescher, president, Strategic Remarketing Solutions LLC, moved into the vice president position as Seger stepped up.
I attended this IARA event and spoke with Seger for this story afterward.
Seger said improving alliance members communications, increasing consignor information sharing, and elevating the group’s market relevance are essential objectives for consignors as the industry moves into a new decade.
“We hope that with more involvement from with consignor community, we will hear about other challenges the Alliance can address,” Seger said. “We want to become a more vibrant organization that tackles industry issues that present themselves to consignors and our supplier base.”
One issue, he said, is disposition of license plates on lease returns. States have different regulations on how plates are to be disposed or canceled. A second issue is vehicle transport supply.
“As more vehicles are remarketed online, transportation becomes a critical piece in the remarketing process; you can sell as many vehicles online as possible, but if you can’t move those cars in a timely fashion, you’d have it,” Seger said.
“The main concern here from our perspective is time; there is considerable inefficiency in the cycle time that can be improved upon that we (consigners and the transport industry) can improve upon, that if we work together we can solve,” he said.
Other changes affecting remarketing — from increased consignor data sharing to data privacy issues to disruptive technologies — are changing the landscape for consignors and the suppliers they depend on, he said.
“Technology is playing a huge role in the evolution of many businesses, and it’s happening as well within the auto remarketing industry,” Seger said. “Our goal is to make consignors aware of how different technological opportunities may help them move and sell assets and help suppliers create new products and services for consignors.”
While IARA’s various committee activities occupied the first day of the August Roundtable sessions, Day 2 was packed with the education and awareness-building content of which Seger speaks. Highlights:
- An update on a standardized auction scorecard, for which IARA and AutoIMS collaborated. Addressing the group about this tool were Layne Weber, director of wholesale fleet sales for the Western U.S. at Avis Budget Group; Cynthia Meyer, vice president of business development with Auction Management Solutions; and Joe Miller, vice president of client experience for AutoIMS.
A late August press release formally announced the Sales Scorecard, which considers such metrics as conversion rates, average sale prices, performance regarding floor price, averages on specific metrics of cars sold (mileage/model year), days to sell and days to complete condition reports.
Miller said the tool results from industry demand for a clearer picture on wholesale performance and gives auctions and consignors a “common framework” to measure how they’re performing in auction sales.
- The Technology Committee reported on several innovations and challenges to the industry, including vehicle location mapping at auctions, discussed by John Sullivan, GM Financial’s vice president of U.S. auction operations, sharing how the tool will help reduce transporter frustration, improve dealer customer service, and save all parties time and money.
- Brian Husman, director of innovation at RPM Freight and Vehicle Systems, discussed transportation tracking systems. Steve Solomon, senior vice president of asset remarketing for both Santander Consumer USA and Chrysler Capital, discussed off-lease vehicle inspection apps for providing condition reports and mobile inspections.
- Aaron Wuchner, founder and chief executive officer for Carmony, and Andrea Amico, founder of Privacy4Cars.com, discussed personal information and privacy issues related to emerging technologies and data.
Wuchner focused on blockchain applications to vehicle titling, registration and records. Amico alerted the group to the privacy risks inherent in today’s vehicles, which capture personal information from passenger cellphones via Bluetooth and the intelligence systems integrated into today’s cars that record driving patterns, mileage, braking and acceleration data, and more. He told the consignors that vehicles sold not having this data erased from those vehicles could put them in jeopardy of breaching privacy laws (selling consumer information), violation of the 2020 California Consumer Protection Act and others.
The IARA was incorporated in California in 2001. A lean association, it has two employees — Tony Long, the executive director; and Sharon Sutton, systems and communications administrator.
The IARA receives extensive support from a team of contractors for legal, accounting, technology, strategic consulting and events. Seger and other board of directors and committees are volunteers, Long said in an email.
About 75% of IARA’s membership consists of U.S. and Canadian consignors and auctions, with the balance made up of logistic and technology providers. Two companies from Mexico and South Africa joined this year, Long said.
Seger said IARA is also working with the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association to nurture mutual support and cross-education. Greater dealer involvement and membership is also on the agenda. “Dealers don’t completely understand the challenges around some of the goals and objectives consignors have, and we would like to bring them to the forefront, so the buying network better understands some of that,” Seger said. “Dealers get frustrated sometimes when we (consignors) can’t get the price for vehicles they would like.”
Core to IARA’s focus is member education. Helping to deliver this education is IARA provider member Auction Academy, which uses IARA’s Certified Automotive Remarketer training certification in its curriculum. In addition to Auction Academy using IARA curriculum in its training, some companies now require their remarketing department employees to become CAR Certified.
Regarding the subject of market-centric data sharing, as with a new IARA member portal under discussion, data is a delicate and cautious subject for some members, Seger said. The portal, as with the new Sales Scorecard, are examples of remarketers’ collected performance data to be used to create performance benchmarks.
“This data can help consignors see how well they’re doing as a business and if compared to others where a company may be coming up short. The portal gives consignors something to look at within our infrastructure and performance,” Seger said.
“Members can be uncomfortable about what level of their data will be leveraged for these things. That’s why we must have rules around how people will use that information,” Seger said.