Ed Bobit: You've Come A Long Way, Baby ...
I won't be old till my feet hurt, and they only hurt when I don't let 'em dance enough, so I'll keep right on dancing.-Bill ("Bojangles") Robinson
An elderly lady who was asked by a child if she was young or old said: "My dear, I have been young a very long time."-Anonymous
Most people say that as you get old, you have to give up things. I think you get old because you give, up things.-Sen. Theodore F. Green
No. I'm not referring to the Virginia Slims commercials. (Do they still sell those?) My focus this month is on the singularly remarkable progress that's been made in the automotive remarketing arena.
I'm reminded that the word "remarketing" continually gets redlined by my spellchecker via computerese; so apparently, it's not a Webster-type accepted name generally speaking. Odd in that it's in very common use around here.
Back in the '50s and '60s when "fleet" and leasing began to blossom into a recognized niche, the leading players were the domestic fleet factory reps, their fleet-minded dealers, and a relative handful of fleet managers who controlled the nation's largest car fleets.
The fleet managers at that time personally handled all the purchasing, adjoining services, and even the resale of the vehicles. While auctions were then operating, fleet wasn't on their radar screens. Fleet lessors really didn't provide a professional service to get rid of the trade-ins.
Virtually all the used cars were absorbed by the new car delivering dealer or the specialized wholesalers of that era. It wasn't a very competitive or efficient system.
It didn't take long for "fleet" used cars to come to the attention of the remarketing world, especially when the factories created "programs" for that portion of the market. The National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) set new stringent standards on their association members that gained them immediate respectability. This included pacts with lessors, guaranteeing dealer check payments, recon centers, and other services that made their use attractive.
Similarly, that small band of merry men who specifically called on major fleets and fleet dealers as wholesalers, formed their own group. The National Association of Fleet Resale Dealers (NAFRD) brought the legitimate wholesalers together with their own set of high standards of ethics and brought more sophistication to the remarketing scene.
Many people within these and related organizations contributed to a safe, efficient channel of commerce for the used vehicles. NAAA, NAFRD, NAFA (fleet managers), AALA (fleet lessors) and others joined in obtaining better legislation and fast sale turnaround.
Work still being exercised surrounds a national common state title law, salvage questions, frame damage (wrecks), and a host of other areas that would help. Looking back, the industry is very fortunate that unselfish leadership and aggressive efforts were made that, without question, have benefited everyone directly involved.
In the last few years we've witnessed yet another "new" remarketing group: the International Automotive Remarketed Alliance (IARA). This potentially powerful group is built around the core of factory remarketers as "Institutional Members" and we have supported their birth from the beginning, both with the physical formation, our Vehicle Remarketing magazine, and our original Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR) meeting. IARA can and will influence changes for the good of the industry.
What's amazing to me is that in spite of all the progress, there still remains the challenge to all segments in creating a fully standardized condition report that is so vital to buyer and seller. Don't misunderstand me; there are very good condition reporting services functioning daily. It's just that everyone is at odds in interpreting the generated data.
Once we can get everyone to agree on which "is the left fender" (are you standing in the front or back of the vehicle?), we'll be able to make great strides.
It's really embarassing.