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Tuesday, August 22, 2006 

Vol. 2 No. 29

2006 IARA Summer Roundtable:I’m a Yellow-Belt Now!

Just a day after the Ford Fleet Preview show in Las Vegas, it was time for the International Automotive Remarketers Alliance (IARA) Summer Roundtable, July 26rd –28th, in San Diego. This roundtable series is unique, and very on point to what we do (remarketing). Steve Houston, the current President (pictured left); Matt Marks, the Executive Director; and Scott Kolb, Chairman of the Education Committee; always do an outstanding job of keeping the roundtables fresh and informative for anyone who touches the remarketing industry. Given my “strenuous” days in Vegas with the Ford Fleet Preview show though (all that heat), I have to admit that I wasn’t really running on all cylinders at the Board of Directors meeting that preceded the Roundtable Wednesday afternoon. Sorry guys, I had just stepped off the plane and you know how tiring flying can get…

Two Topics on Every Remarketer’s Mind: Reconditioning and Transportation

The IARA gatherings always include a roundtable format, usually dealing with topics that have no “answer” but induce discussion among the member attendees, with field experts moderating the discussion. Given that the members of this group are all remarketing professionals representing various facets of the business, this not only generates a lively discussion but these different viewpoints usually produce a rounded analysis of the issue not achievable in a standard seminar.

This time, the roundtable topics addressed vehicle reconditioning (prior to remarketing) with a roundtable moderated by Chuck Nix; and vehicle transportation with a session moderated by Don Fowler (pictured left). There is always debate as to the right amount of money to invest in reconditioning units to maximize remarketing dollars, and opinions usually vary by sector, so the subject was a perfect one to kick around. Vehicle transportation promotes less contention, but advances and competition in that area of the business make it worthy of discussion.

“Go for No!” and A Very Special Award…

The lunch keynote speaker, Richard Fenton, presented one of the most unique sales motivation talks I have ever heard. Fenton’s “Go for No” talk, based on a book by the same name (apt Publishing – see www.goforno.com), advises all to “fail your way to success.” In it, Fenton argues that the “ultimate strategy for achieving sales success is not to merely ‘tolerate’ failure and rejection but to intentionally seek it out.” Fenton illustrated his point with many entertaining examples of how the fear of rejection and failure holds back success in everyday life. I saw Fenton’s presentation once before at an AFLA meeting a few years ago, and he is one of those speakers that you look forward to seeing again and again. I should also note here that Richard Fenton’s father, Don Fenton, who passed away a few years back, was one of the fleet sales legends in this business; all of us in the sales end of the fleet business today owe a debt to Don, not only for his counsel and friendship (he was one of those folks everyone seemed to know and like), but for being one of the trailblazers in dealership fleet sales.

The Award lunch was also gratifying, since I knew the IARA Remarketing Industry Recognition Award recipient personally. He is one of our “own” on the Board of Directors of the association, Layne Weber, Vice President of Remarketing for Donlen Corporation. The Remarketing Recognition Award is given out once a year by IARA, to someone in the industry has made an outstanding contribution to the remarketing industry or to community service. Layne certainly fit the bill for the award, having raised over $186,000 in the last three years for the “One Step at a Time” program, started by Children’s Oncology Services, Inc. The “One Step at a Time” program helps children who have just found out they have leukemia or tumors participate in camp, special trips and other activities, usually staffed by volunteers who are cancer survivors and who went through the program as youths and returned to serve as counselors. Layne’s efforts in raising money, with the help of participating auctions and TPC Management, allowed many children to attend, as the tuition and fees are often partially or completely waived. Layne created an annual fund drive event that raised $26,000 in 2004, the first year of operation; $60,000 in 2005, and an amazing $100,000 in 2006. A personal congratulations Layne; you are a great example of why “car guys” are the best…

Layne Weber and David Alfonso pictured - the award was given out by David Alfonso, Auction Sales Manager for Kia Motors of America.

I’m Now a Yellow Belt, and I Didn’t Even Crack a Few Boards…

After lunch IARA offered a pretty unique experience for a trade association, full Yellow Belt Six Sigma Training, conducted by Bill Vermilyea (pictured below), a Six Sigma Black Belt from SSEG Consulting. Problem, process, procedure, data interpretation…not to mention a multi-page training guide…this was a fairly serious address right after lunch and took over three hours, but, at the end of it, even I ended up with a Yellow Belt certificate. The next level, Green Belt certification, requires the undertaking of an actual project, overseen by a Black Belt supervisor. I have to say I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon, but for educational value, this IARA Roundtable addition was very substantive.

I Had to Run by the Second Day, but Wish I Could have Stayed On…

I hate to admit it, but once in California I had meetings further north that I had to attend first thing Friday morning, so I couldn’t stay for the couple of roundtable panel presentations the next morning. This was clearly my loss, because I was very interested in each of the topics and know that the moderators were first rate in keeping panel discussion on point and insightful.

What did I miss? The first panel session for that Friday morning, was on “Vehicle Arbitration – Physical and Online Sales,” moderated by Jane Morgan from ADESA. Given the current attempts by the industry to adopt a uniform standard on vehicle conditioning, and, in general, the transition of arbitration rules from a solely “brick and mortar” physical presence to a much different online auction environment, I’m sure I would have benefited if I could have stayed for this one.

The second panel was populated by car dealers and had the very compelling title, “Why I Buy (or don’t) Your Vehicles,” moderated by Layne Weber from Donlen. This is also very relevant to our business, and another one I am sorry I missed.

So I’ll close this entry kind of on the same theme as I started it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week – else, I would have been at all of the roundtables, visited my clients, and still had time to catch up on some much needed sleep…

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Hi Friend! You have a great blog over here!
Please accept my compliments and wishes for your happiness and success!
If you have a moment, please take a look at my affordable used car site.
Have a great day!

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