The Education and Conference Committee remains busy throughout the year and relies upon a group of volunteer committee members to plan and execute educational sessions that meet the needs of IARA members by keeping them abreast of trends, regulations, and practices that affect the industry.
Since 2001, the IARA has used education and certification to not only help define its identity in the industry, but to also place itself as a fulcrum of industry knowledge. This busy committee plans a half-day of education during the Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR) in the spring as well as managing the two-day Summer Roundtable.
About the Committee
The trio of Brent Garrett (CarLotz), Jim Jackson (Automotive Resources International), and Tom Stewart (Auction Management Solutions) co-chair the IARA’s Education and Conference Committee. In addition, about a dozen committee members meet weekly to discuss emerging educational topics.
The committee also relies on membership surveys to drive educational opportunities that meet the specific interests of IARA members, Garrett said. Additionally, the group sets aside time to meet in person at each of the two annual conferences. The committee is tasked with not only identifying pertinent topics, but also finding expert speakers and moderators to address them. The committee is also responsible for the site selection of the Summer Roundtable and tries to choose cities centrally located in the U.S. or areas of the country that might draw the most attendance. For 2021, the committee chose convention-friendly San Antonio, Texas, as the site of the Summer Roundtable, where it announced the 2022 conference will be held in Nashville, Tenn.
Education Mission Vital to IARA
Since the inception of the IARA two decades ago, member education has always been one of the most important missions. The education commitment began with the implementation of the Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) certification program. The CAR program started with what was then known as the Education and Certification Committee before the Certification Committee was spun off to become a separate group.
Helping inform educational efforts, the committee surveys attendees after each educational event about what they liked best, as well as what they want to hear about at upcoming conferences, Garrett said.
Two Main Events
The committee’s next annual task is to plan the March 2022 IARA’s schedule for the Conference of Automotive Remarketing, to be held March 22-24, 2022 at Caesars Las Vegas. The CAR conference was held in person in June 2021 just as Las Vegas was reopening following the closures and slowdowns from the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 CAR event was virtual. That year, the committee not only had to pivot to online conferences, but also added some sessions and conversation targeted toward pandemic related issues.
One of the most important enhancements in the recent past has been to incorporate a dealer panel into the conferences. “The committee found through their surveys that participants really wanted to hear from the dealers,” Garrett said. Through communication with the panel, the committee found the most important topics to dealers are emerging technologies and the marketplaces. The constant changes in the marketplace have kept the committee on its toes as there has clearly been a shift to digital auctions.
“I don’t want to say that [digital sales] have completely replaced physical in-lane bidding, but they have certainly changed the behavior of the people who are bidding online and buying cars,” Garrett said.
One other important improvement was to establish a consignor-only meeting. Garrett stresses the importance of this unique opportunity for consignors since the IARA conferences are the only venue for such a gathering. “We allocate time and it’s only consignors, so they can talk about what’s important to them,” Garrett said. If you are considering joining the IARA and asking yourself, “What’s in it for me?,” Garrett affirms this is a huge membership benefit offered to consignors.
On the Horizon
Members have clearly indicated they want more information about the current state of the market amid tight inventory supply and rising wholesale prices, Garrett said. “I think folks want to know what the near-term outlook and forecast look like for pricing.”
The committee will remain focused on providing this information in a meaningful and useful manner through careful planning. “Members want to know what’s coming down the pipeline, what’s new, what’s emerging, and what they should be focused on,” Garrett said. ■
Note: This article appeared in the IARA 20th Anniversary Commemorative Issue published in November 2021.