Since starting in the remarketing industry in 2010, Rebecca Hewitt has seen many changes, such as an increased volume of vehicles in the wholesale marketplace and the proficiency of digital capabilities. But overall, Hewitt believes the fundamentals of the industry have remained the same: Consignors want to sell their vehicles at the highest possible price while managing cycle time and keeping expenses in check.
“You don’t want to sit on inventory. You want to make sure you have a pipeline that’s moving, and along the way you have repair decisions that are important, because you want to optimize the condition of vehicles to increase their value and potential selling price,” said Hewitt, who is director of remarketing for Southeast Toyota Finance, a JM Family company. “You’ve got decisions as far as where you’re going to sell these vehicles and how you’re going to get them there, all with the clear focus of how can we sell these vehicles as quickly as possible for the highest sales price and at reasonable expense.”
How does Hewitt’s department do that? With an experienced team. Grayson Mumma runs the company’s auction sales and reports to Hewitt, and Hewitt sings the praises of Mumma and his “solid, experienced, and seasoned team that knows what our priorities are for our Toyota products and also our clients.”
How do the team members do that? Through smart repair decisions and knowing the best markets to sell the cars.
“They do it through dealer relationships that they have, and they know who buys from us,” Hewitt said. “They do it through great relationships with our auction partners.”
Along with serving as director of remarketing for Southeast Toyota Finance, Hewitt also sits as one of the newest members of IARA’s board of directors.
“It’s an organization that can provide visibility to consignor issues and viewpoints and potentially moves the needle in the direction of helping the industry,” she said. “I see it as a valuable organization.”
Hewitt also sings the praises of her company, explaining that around 1981, Southeast Toyota founder Jim Moran created a captive finance company called World Omni Financial Corp, which is doing business as Southeast Toyota Finance. Hewitt started in 1995 with Southeast Toyota Finance/World Omni in the Commercial Operations group and served as that group’s director from 2002 to 2010, managing a portfolio that provided commercial financing to Toyota stores in the five southeastern states for floorplans, capital loans, and mortgages.
In 2010, she switched to the remarketing side, and now she oversees the remarketing efforts for Southeast Toyota Finance and as World Omni for their other clients.
“We remarket and sell off-lease and repossessed vehicles to dealers for Southeast Toyota Finance,” she said. “And we do the same thing for our World Omni clients.” Part of her team of remarketing coordinators and a remarketing manager in the field handle the auction side of the business. Hewitt also handles the end-of-term side of the business, including off-lease handling, grounding, and end of term collections. Part of her field team works at a Mobile, Ala., Customer Experience Center that services clients’ loans.
The improved digital capabilities of the industry is a trend that has helped her and her team perform those duties well.
“Buyers now have such a great resource in finding vehicles through many channels,” Hewitt said. “I think the online digital visibility of vehicles gives all of us consignors a great opportunity to leverage that.” She has seen another trend: Condition reports are better than ever, particularly in the area of standardized condition grades. “Every buyer knows what a 4.2 or 3.8 means, so the standardization in condition grade has really helped in a digital marketplace.”
She adds that for its Southeast Toyota Finance vehicles and vehicles for its clients under World Omni, her department strives for as much online capability as possible to provide 24-hour/7-days-per-week visibility for the cars it is offering for sale.
She hopes to continue working to keep up with those trends, and the IARA will help with that. The association serves as a valuable voice for consignors, she said.
Hewitt and the remarketing industry have come a long way since she started. Before coming to JM Family, she worked in financial services for various companies, but she was looking to join a company with a strong culture and one she could build a career with; she found that in JM Family. She hopes to continue working with the company and keeping up with new trends.
“It’s exciting working in remarketing. We have a great team, I love the industry folks, and I’m excited to hone my skills and continue to learn,” she said.