In the past 20 years, the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) has evolved into a vibrant organization that offers an expanding menu of member benefits, as best exemplified by the IARA remarketer certification program.
The IARA Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) program has been near and dear to me for the past 15 years. In January 2006, when CAR was just a gleam in the eyes of IARA leadership, I wrote an editorial entitled “The Time is Now to Create a Certified Automotive Remarketing Program.”
At that time, the IARA was five years old and, candidly, it had a less than certain future. This may sound hard to believe, especially considering the elevated status bestowed on the IARA by today’s remarketing industry. But this wasn’t the case in those early formative years. One uncertainty was identifying the member benefits that would justify joining the IARA. I remember sitting in a café at Caesars Palace in 2005 with the late Matt Marks, the then-IARA executive director, and Doug Richards, the then-treasurer for the IARA. The CAR 2005 conference had just concluded, and over dinner I expressed my concern that the IARA needed to find “a reason for being.” If not, I feared its growth would stagnate. At that time, I had been working for 20 years in the fleet management industry and was very familiar with the NAFA Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) certification program and how it revitalized that association. Likewise, the National Vehicle Leasing Association (NVLA) introduced its Certified Vehicle Leasing Executive (CVLE) program that elevated the stature of that organization. During dinner, I asked Richards if there was a similar certification program for remarketers. He could not think of any. I thought to myself, “this could be the member benefit the IARA needs!”
I proposed the idea of creating a remarketing certification program at the next IARA Board of Directors meeting. The Board liked the idea and voted to proceed with the initiative. I was asked to head up a working committee to develop it. Joining me was Scott Kolb, Jill Tarallo, and Ricky Beggs. Another unsung contributor to the CAR curriculum was the late George Largay of Manheim.
At the first meeting of the IARA certification working committee, we decided to treat this initiative as you would an academic project. Kolb brought discipline to the group by assigning us a college-level text book to read from cover-to-cover on how to develop a certification program. We read one chapter per week and implemented the guidelines in the following week’s meeting. This was the genesis of the IARA’s CAR program, which, in the long run, opened an important new chapter in the existence of the IARA.
Following the inception of the CAR program, the IARA Board of Directors created a formal certification committee comprised of members whose focus was to manage and improve the certification process. Under the stellar leadership of Dave Sutton, Michele Pierog, and Jackie Malik, the CAR certification program thrived, reaching a level of industry acceptance that far exceeded its expectations during the early formative years. What contributed to this success was continually streamlining and automating the certification process and having its curriculum evolve through regular updates. Today, the CAR program is unrivaled as the premier certification program in the remarketing industry.
The next big evolution of the CAR program was the creation of a Canadian version whose curriculum was “Canadian-ized” to reflect the Canadian remarketing industry. Another major evolution of the CAR program was its growing acceptance as an educational tool by other industry organizations. For instance, Auction Academy now includes the CAR program as a part of its two-year training curriculum because it is structured to address each step of the remarketing process. Penny Wanna, president of Auction Academy, recently joined the IARA Certification Committee as a co-chair to help increase certification activity.
New Opportunities in Compliance Certification
I believe there is great potential for the IARA to build upon its successful remarketer certification program by branching into related areas involving compliance training certifications. The IARA Compliance Committee is doing a terrific job in investigating workplace compliance training to help companies follow laws, reduce liability risks, and operate more effectively. In the final analysis, compliance training protects you from legal, regulatory, and corporate violations that could result in fines and civil penalties.
There are a number of compliance issues involved in the remarketing of used vehicles, such as the procedure to delete personal identifiable information (PII) found in infotainment systems, privacy safeguards, and cybersecurity data protection issues to name a few. Some in the industry look at compliance as an expense, but this is short-sighted. Compliance training certification should be looked upon as a cost-benefit that will help improve an organization’s overall performance by having a properly trained workforce.
There is a need for compliance training in the remarketing industry, along with those in related industries that facilitate the sale of used vehicles. Already, the IARA law firm of Demetry, DeCarlo & Coffman is assisting the Alliance with the development and regulatory monitoring of potential compliance course content. Ultimately, compliance training certification will be an important new IARA member benefit, which, from a fiscal standpoint, would also create a new recurring revenue stream for the Alliance. ■
Note: This article appeared in the IARA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Issue published in November 2021.