MT. ARLINGTON, NJ - The International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) past president, Bob Graham, was tasked with increasing the Alliance’s membership, ensuring financial stability, and raising the bar for biennial IARA Roundtable meetings.
On Aug. 18, 2009, Bob Graham, Automotive Resources International (ARI) then director of vehicle remarketing (now VP of vehicle remarketing), was elected as president of the IARA.
During his two-year term, Graham's goals included helping grow membership, ensuring financial stability, and raising the bar for the IARA meetings and roundtables by promoting professional and value-added content.
"The IARA has some of the best talent from the consignor, auction, and industry partner segments that you can find. We need to get that message out, along with a message of transparency and cooperation to those who haven't joined yet. Having every player in the remarketing industry with a voice through the IARA is the ultimate goal," Graham said.
As the IARA's president, Graham worked with the leadership of auctions and other industry associations, providing continued value for the membership along with conducting monthly board meetings. "As the industry changes and evolves, the needs and priorities of both remarketers and our industry partners change as well," Graham said. "The IARA takes a lead role in identifying key issues and working with its membership to effect changes that will benefit not only remarketers, but the auctions and buyers as well. Through education, cooperation, and open communication with all industry partners, the IARA drives value to the bottom line of its members."
Strong Remarketing Background
At ARI, Graham provides the strategic direction and vision for the vehicle remarketing area to assure maximum sales results for clients and increase revenue streams through value-added services and other business opportunities. Developing an exceptional staff and maintaining remarketing industry partnerships and relationships is also a major focus of his daily responsibilities, plus managing used-vehicle inventory and keeping the company in compliance with all laws and policies.
In 2005, Graham realized it was important for ARI to join the IARA. "I watched the Alliance and attended meetings for several years as it developed from its infancy, which was a group of mostly import manufacturers, to an Alliance that represented the interests of remarketers from every segment of the industry," Graham said.
Membership Benefits Graham & ARI
Since joining the IARA more than four years ago, the benefits reaped by Graham and ARI made the cost of membership more than worthwhile. Not only does Graham get the personal benefit of brainstorming with the best remarketers in the industry on critical industry topics, but he also gathers invaluable information to keep up-to-date and knowledgeable in order to make the important decisions that impact the sale of ARI clients' vehicles.
"My company gets the benefit of the efficiencies that can be created by standardizing or improving the remarketing process," Graham said. "These efficiencies translate into reduced days to sell, lower total transaction costs, and a better net return to our clients."
He added that while being a member of the IARA has met all of his expectations, he believes what an individual puts into his or her membership is an indicator of what they will get out of it.
"Members who just pay their dues and come to the meetings will automatically get value based on the great networking opportunities and the results the Alliance has and will continue to achieve. However, those who have a passion and join a committee or the Board of Directors and get directly involved get the opportunity to help shape the direction of our industry, and that's where the real rewards lie."
When Graham was invited to join the Board, he didn't realize the importance of the position at the time. He initially accepted the position because he thought it would be a good way to give back to the industry he's enjoyed for the past 38 years.
Once on the Board, Graham found that his opinions and feedback, like every Board member, were an important part of the process to drive tangible change and improvement in the industry. "Even when my opinion is the minority, it gets heard and considered, which I think is one of the strengths of the IARA," he said.
Gaining Tangible Results
Since Graham's company has had a voice in working through most of the initiatives the IARA has undertaken, it has incorporated almost all of those initiatives into what it does.
"We have used data from the IARA standards committee to help drive efficiency and reduce days to sell, we adopted the new frame and arbitration policies streamlining our interaction with auctions, every ARI remarketer has become CAR certified which benefits our clients, and we implemented the new certification program to enhance our brand and increase sale results for our customers," Graham added. He also pointed out the importance of attending the annual IARA conferences. "The two annual conferences are the best places to have your voice heard on industry topics. The educational programs and Roundtable discussions are some of the best in the industry, and everyone who attends comes away better informed at the very least and often comes away with tangible ways to improve their companies' remarketing processes or bottom lines," he said.
Graham underscores the Alliance's value to the industry at large is undeniable, as it provides a forum where remarketers can discuss and work on the important issues of the day in a cooperative environment with each other and with the auction community.
"Its members represent millions of vehicles, so the size of the Alliance is now large enough that it has a real voice in the industry," Graham said. "The IARA has several outstanding and dynamic committees that help lead the way with standards, technology, and education. One of the best things the Alliance has done is to establish the Certified Automotive Remarketer (CAR) program."
He also advised remarketers join the IARA because of the real value provided, especially to consignors who have large portfolios of vehicles.
"Adopting one new policy or change that reduces a few days from your process or increases your net return by a few hundred dollars quickly translates into hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in overall savings to your company," he said. While the IARA is still relatively young and growing into its role as an industry force, Graham believes now is the best time to join and get in on the ground floor.
"The remarketing industry is obviously in an exciting and sometimes confusing period of change with the economy, technology, transportation, and education," Graham said. "There is no better time than now to get involved in leading and shaping that change, and there is no better venue to do it than the IARA."