The International Automotive Remarketers Alliance appears on track for a must-see conference full of pivots and insights on a remarketing industry taking on some new realities.
From disrupted market dynamics to the advent of used electric vehicles to the sudden pandemic-era lurch into digital auctions, the IARA and its new president Jeff Bescher anticipate strong attendance at its annual Summer Roundtable amid pressing topics, all while the association marks its 20th anniversary.
The IARA will officially install Bescher, president and founder of Strategic Remarketing Solutions, as the 2021-2023 IARA President during the conference, Aug. 24-26 in San Antonio, succeeding Paul Seger. Bescher will be leading the trade association at a transitional time as the automotive markets and wider economy emerge from the pandemic.
Bescher recently shared is insights and views about the state of the conference and a beckoning agenda in an interview with Automotive Fleet/Vehicle Remarketing.
“There’s certainly a desire to increase the information available to all of the consignors about available opportunities to remarket their vehicles,” Bescher said. “We often get into comfortable ways of doing things and stay in that. Because of COVID and companies doing things differently, it has opened people’s eyes to see the IARA as a great vehicle to continue that innovation and opportunities for all members of the alliance.”
Underscoring that point, Bescher calls out the keynote speaker, Josh Linker, who will focus on innovation, which because of COVID, must be a priority for auctions and businesses. “He will put on a good show and give us actionable items.”
Bescher is encouraged by the accelerating interest in the Roundtable event, with registrations surpassing 175 the final week in July and on track to top 300 given the trend toward later registrations. The IARA could reach about 300 attendees at the Summer Roundtable to be held Aug. 24-26 at the San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk. The event in past years averaged about 200-250 attendees.
“We’re getting a lot of calls,” Bescher said. “Most of the people I’m talking to say they will go.”
After a two-year pandemic hiatus from an in-person Roundtable, the IARA’s agenda looks stronger than ever given its focus on industry changes, improvements, and lessons learned from the past year’s disruptions.
Auto Dealers Gather Nearby
One session Bescher deems highly relevant will be the dealer panel featuring speakers from the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, whose conference also takes place in San Antonio, Aug. 23-26 and overlaps for two days with the IARA Summer Roundtable Aug. 25-27.
“It will be interesting to get their perspective on what they are seeing in the market and how they perceive all of us as consignors as we are selling vehicles,” Bescher said.
Auctions Going Down Digital Road
Of course, the rise of digital marketplaces in the auction industry takes center stage as the socially distanced pandemic forced many operators to get very practical, fast.
“We’ll be showcasing examples beyond traditional auction companies and what they are doing,” Bescher said.
All-Electric Vehicles to Enhance Auctions
Electric vehicles are poised to push full force into the used vehicle industry in the coming years as the first wave of fleet EVs are cycled out for newer models. IARA and industry leaders will need to define and address some burning questions that will lead to structured standards for valuing EVs.
The industry will need change its processes in the remarketing space, he said. “Will you have charging stations at auctions? How do you determine the battery life in used vehicles? There are so many things happening that are different from what we’ve been doing for years.”
Past, Present and Beyond
The most engaging headliner session during the conference could well be the final agenda item: “Closing Keynote: Passing the Baton — The Legacy and Beyond.”
"The fact we have Sandy Schwartz and Steve Rowley of Cox Automotive and Jim Hallett and Peter Kelly of KAR Global all together will provide a unique opportunity to hear from key leaders of the remarketing industry who are stepping down and their successors,” Bescher said. The session will be hosted by longtime Conference of Automotive Remarketing emcee Charlie Vogelheim.
IARA Provides Resources for Future
This year’s Roundtable also renews and creates all types of reasons for attendees to continue membership in the IARA and for industry members to join. “This is a great time to be part of the IARA because of all the change in the industry,” Bescher said.
He outlined four areas where IARA can bring value to members and their businesses:
- Get information about the industry that helps professionals navigate the new dynamics and market forces.
- Gain best practices through training, education, and certification programs.
- Network with industry peers and attendees to build stronger business and personal relationships that help companies and advance careers.
- Become an industry influencer and help set its future course by participating in the association that serves as the voice of the consignors.
“We can share so much information when we get to know people better, and that makes it worthwhile to be part of the IARA,” Bescher said. “Don’t be shy about talking to people about why they are part of the IARA and get their opinions. We have great relationships with service providers.”
Gearing Up for Industry Challenges
Attendees can also expect a thorough economic and market analysis from big auction players like Cox Automotive and KAR Global. With supply chain disruptions, an automotive chip shortage, inventory imbalances, declining repossessions and record high vehicles prices, there will be plenty to digest and figure out. But Bescher sees these factors all stabilizing toward a more normal market in 2022.
Other areas the IARA and industry should focus on promoting additional professional certifications, technology challenges, and cyber and data security, Bescher said.
“We have more opportunities and challenges for companies to keep information private,” he said about securing the flow of information among providers and consignors and within the internal systems of companies. Security approaches must ensure the due diligence and privacy of financial transactions to deter hacking, he added.