COMMENTARY: NRC/NAAA & future of change in auction space

Action from The National Panel at the NRC/NAAA Convention. Photo by Jonathan Fredin.

This year’s annual conference partnership between the National Remarketing Conference and the NAAA Convention was a great example of a forward-thinking combination of two very strong brands.

As Dan Kennedy (formerly of GM, now with Jack Cooper Logistics), Mike Broe (formerly of Manheim and now president of AutoIMS), my wife and I sat at the grand banquet, we saw and discussed the transition of the industry from one generation to the next.

Now as Dealers Auto Auction here in Phoenix transitions to the Mumford and Gingras team, it’s clear that the industry’s future is bright, and we think more partnerships are coming in the future.

In keeping with that theme, as the discussions at the conference trended from blockchain to operational mobility and online selling, it was clear that the next generation needed to be a group of disrupters, as well as a group of traditionalists, to maintain the growth and vision needed to keep our industry viable.

With that said, I think the debate over which platform is better, in-lane or online, has made something very clear: There is a need and a place for both.

Over the past decade, NRC has focused on unique and thought-provoking topics and honoring the next generation of leaders while NAAA has focused on safety training, condition report writing, arbitration rules and related topics and honoring its past leaders. It’s a combination that I think blends the best of the past and the future.

In my view, online selling and in-lane selling are not in revolutionary, but rather evolutionary stages. Despite the continuing use of the new “disrupters” buzzword, I remember when that was synergies, economies of scale and many more.

OVE, OPENLANE and simulcast are examples of evolution, because the imaging, condition reports and related items are improving. But the nature of arrival times affects the quality and quantity of much of the dealer consignment at auctions in this country.

More importantly, even as auctions like DAASW have converted to high speed fiber and cat-6 interfaces with HD cameras, that doesn’t mean that the viewing end of the buyers or the online reps has the same totality of upgrades, thus somewhat devaluing the upside of those changes.

My vision for auction disruption has been within the operational areas of our industry, combining mobility with safety — another buzzword today that should never be a buzzword, but should have always been a fact of operational life.

It also amazes me that every auction in this country has not converted to operational mobility. So let me give you my thoughts on this concept.

— Vehicles arrive at check-in, and then a combination of check-in staff/CR writers check-in and CR dealer inventory with mobile devices. That is immediately sent to our website and to AutoIMS, and then they turn a corner and the same mobile devices image and upload standardized images, which again move wirelessly to all areas of our marketing platform.

— In the lanes, each lane leader has a mobile device to view run number assignments, announcements and related on each unit and to obtain emails for management on any issues relating to that unit. The ability to receive emails from the consignor or a buyer regarding that unit are also built into this system to increase customer service and reduce telephone calls.

— Of course, the repos, lease and factory units have different iterations of this process, but the mobile devices continue to create productivity and seamless platform integration there, as well.

The revolution, however, needs to be on the blocks and at our front counters.  

If Apple can create paperless retail stores, why aren’t we tying in bid numbers, (we already have them assigned to mobile devices) to electronic signings and eliminating invoices with each invoice and perhaps next week’s sale information, texted or emailed to the buyers?

If you’re talking about safety, think how many times our buyers cross the bidding lanes to sign an invoice.

With regard to the front counters, with the ability of operating systems to run on iPads, why are we still using hardwired PCs and “chaining” employees to desks and customers to lines?

For instance, here in Arizona, e-titles on the wholesale level are coming in 2018; how does that change the role of a title clerk and third-party services?

As always, this is just one man’s opinion and I am always here to listen to any comments at [email protected].


Jim DesRochers is a consultant with Dealers Auto Auction of the Southwest and was its longtime vice president and general manager. 

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