Jason Herman describes himself as a “huge car enthusiast.” Specifically, he enjoys detailing, driving, and studying vehicles, mostly sports and muscle cars. After graduating college with a business degree in 1998, he heard about a job opening at U.S. Bank that fit his passion.
“I found out that the bank actually sells and works with cars,” said Herman, who is now senior vice president and director of asset remarketing for U.S. Bank. “I had a passion for cars, and I liked the financial industry. That’s what I went to school for. At U.S. Bank, I could combine banking and the car interest, so it was a perfect fit.”
Herman has been with U.S. Bank ever since, serving just about all of his almost-20 years with the company in the remarketing area. His roles have included managing the asset remarketing telesales call center and managing off-lease and repossessed vehicles sales at physical auction and on online auction sites. He moved to his current position about 12 years ago. He now oversees the vehicle remarketing activities for U.S. Bank, which he notes is one of the largest leasing banks in the country. That means the company manages a large amount of off-lease vehicles each year.
Helping the bank comply with increasing regulations takes up much of his department’s time. Making sure the department places vehicles into the best sales channels to get the highest return is another area of increased focus. He notes that his company uses more remarketing channels than the average person or company that is selling a vehicle. U.S. Bank invests heavily in online remarketing.
“We use about three different upstream remarketing channels,” he said. “We list cars on multiple sites at the same time. We’re always looking at new online technologies to improve our offering.”
The U.S. Bank Dealer Grounding Portal, which the company manages in partnership with ADESA’s Internet-based remarketing company, Open Lane, is a top technological area of concentration. Through the portal, Herman noted, consignors determine what they want to offer and how they offer it, and they also control the price and availability of the vehicles.
Herman has helped his company stay on top of the increasing digitalization of the industry, and IARA has been a big help in that area. U.S. Bank recently rejoined the board of IARA because the association has helped the entire industry address common concerns, Herman said. “Instead of us all fighting the same issues in our organizations and the marketplace, there was a need to have it all under one umbrella,” he said, adding that he remembers less-successful attempts to start a similar organization during an earlier time in his career. “But the IARA is an organized body, and they have the right membership with the right dialogue. I found over the years it hit what the core issues are, which is why you would want to be part of it.”
“Customer obsession” is one of those top core issues, and Herman makes sure his company exceeds customers’ and dealers’ expectations. Work in that area has accelerated lately, as used vehicle sales volumes have risen.
“The challenge is we all have a lot of cars to sell, and at some point there’s a supply-and-demand imbalance that’s likely to occur in the next year or two,” Herman said. “Finding ways for us all to sell more vehicles before they come back through alternative sales channels is probably beneficial to the market as a whole. Obviously if residual values are negatively impacted by increased supply and less demand, none of us do well in that deal. It hurts us all financially. Sharing of best practices as it comes to figuring out the best channels to remarket cars I think becomes even more critical.” Those best practices can include digital methods and non-digital methods, such as presenting inventory via a postcard from the physical auction. Increased use of rail to transport vehicles is another best practice area.
“Rail has become an option, and the tracking of your inventory, how you monitor it, where it is at any point in the process has become a lot different, with more of a digital focus, which speeds up the process.”
Staying on top of issues such as vehicle transport and digitization provides variety that keeps Herman’s job interesting. “For a car person, it’s perfect because you don’t have to stand out in the cold to sell cars. You can do it from an office, but you are still very much in touch with what’s happening with the metal. It’s kind of the best of both worlds for someone who enjoys cars.”