KAR Auction Services Inc. CEO Jim Hallett said he could sum up the company’s second quarter performance in one word – fantastic.
Revenue increased 9 percent overall, with salvage arm Insurance Auto Auctions leading the way with an increase of 13 percent on 11 percent volume growth.
The strong results for IAA are expected to continue as insurance companies declare more claims as a total loss, the cost for collision repairs, as well as miles driven, continues to increase.
Revenue from ADESA, the company’s auction arm, grew by 9 percent.
ADESA sold 11 percent more vehicles than a year ago, driven primarily driven by increases in the online-only volumes. Same-store volumes at physical auctions grew by only 1 percent.
The same-store decline came mostly from lower dealer-consignment volumes, which were down 5 percent. Same-store commercial volumes were up 14 percent.
This change in mix drove the overall convertion rate at ADESA’s auctions to 61 percent.
“I believe that our consigners continue to be price- sensitive as we see used-car prices decline,” Hallett said. “The good news is, this is a key factor in how much money a commercial consigner will put into a car in order to maximize the value of the used vehicle. “
Hallett said the mix shift to more commercial and less dealer consignment cars will continue as lease returns and repossessions increase over the next three years.
Floor planner Automotive Finance Corp., the third major compenent of KAR, continues to operate “very conservatively,” Hallett said.
The number of loan transactions was relatively flat and revenue declined. The provision for credit losses was 2.6 percent of average loan balances for the quarter.
Hallett said the goods news for AFC was that while the loss provision was high in April and May as the comapny ran off its defaulted loans, June provision’s for credit losses was below the expected loss rates of 1.75 percent to 2.25 percent of average receivables.
“This is a very good indicator for what we expect to see in the second half of 2017,” he said.
The shift to more commercial consignment also helps AFC, Hallett said, as the average loan value per vehicle increases, which will lead to higher revenue per loan transaction.
Independent dealers continue to face big security threats and must stay vigilant in protecting their businesses.
Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation updated dealers this summer on the threats they face.
“It’s a constant battle of trying to stay ahead of the bad guys,” said Ed Parmalee, supervising special agent, FBI, Cyber Division.
The top cyber security issues that face independent dealers include social engineering, ransomware and the compromising of business email.
Social engineering is when someone tries to convince someone else to provide money or information by pretending to be someone else. The Nigerian email scam is one example.
Parmalee said one common trick involves a sender posing as a vender and sending a fake invoice to the business, asking for payment.
Another scam involves sending an email to the business to deceive the recipient to provide private or business information because the sender email looks familiar.
Ransomware, which has been in the news periodically over the last several years, occurs when a hacker locks up a business computer’s information, forcing the business to pay a “ransom” in Bitcoin, an online currency, to unlock the computer.
FBI officials said the government does not encourage paying the ransom, but businesses feel they have no choice.
Parmalee suggested dealers isolate the affected computer and to make sure they have a cloud service so they can retrieve any lost information.
“Backups are critical,” Parmalee said, adding that this type of cyberthreat can be “devastating” to a small business.
“This literally could financially ruin you,” he said.
Jared Himmighoefer, also with the FBI, warns businesses not to ignore the threat.
“Anyone can get hit,” he said. “It’s just a matter of when.”
At lease one independent dealer who attended the session said they were hit and had to pay the ransom.
Back-up products like Carbonite could help businesses protect their information.
Alex Tovstanovsky, an Illinois dealer, experienced one attempt to obtain financial information when a caller talked to a staffer, insisting they were from the electric company and claiming that if they didn’t pay a past due bill, the power would be shut down that day.
Tovstanovsky thought it sounded suspicious and it turned out to be a scam.
“It’s a constant battle of trying to stay ahead of the bad guys,” Parmalee said.
Business also have to be careful about offering free Wi-Fi, which opens them up to potential attacks, Parmalee said.
Resources are available for businesses.
The FBI encourages business to report incidents of cyber crime to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).
There are also Information Sharing and Analysis Centers, including one for the automotive sector, called AUTO-ISAC.
The site offers cybersecurity best practices.
“It’s a really valuable resource,” Parmalee said.
If the Consumer Financial protection Bureau’s mandatory arbitration ban fails to take effect, part of the reasons will be questions about the data supporting it.
The Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB specifically required the agency to study the use of mandatory arbitration agreements in finance contracts. The CFPB released the results of that study in March 2015.
In announcing the ban, the CFPB said the study “showed that few consumers ever bring – or consider bringing – individual actions against their financial service providers either in court or in arbitration.”
The Republican Senators who are moving to block the rule cited what they consider poor use of data.
“This rule is based on a political study that 86 members of Congress warned was ‘not fair, transparent, or comprehensive,’” said Sen. Pat Toomey in a release about the Senate resolution. “Rather than reexamine its defective study, the CFPB has chosen to forge ahead with a flawed rule. Congress must now exercise its authority to block it.”
A major problem with the CFPB’s use of the study is an attempt to portray the benefits of class-action suits versus arbitration.
The release says the study found that “over 34 million consumers received payments, and that $1 billion was paid out to harmed consumers over the five-year period studied.”
By contrast, the study found that “in the roughly one thousand cases in the two years that were studied, arbitrators awarded a combined total of about $360,000 in relief to 78 consumers.”
The CFPB release says this proves “(i)ndividual actions get less overall relief for consumers than group lawsuits because companies do not have to provide relief to everyone harmed.”
While this is true, the amount individuals actually received is far greater under arbitration than class action using these examples – $4,615 on average of arbitration vs. $29 for class action.
“If finalized, this rule would actually cost consumers more in the long run by pushing consumers into class action lawsuits as opposed to arbitration,” said Sen. Mike Rounds.
Terry O’Loughlin, director of compliance for Reynolds & Reynolds, said the payment per consumer might prove small, but the cost of the company being sued is huge.
“Even just defending them can be very expensive,” O’Loughlin said.
The CFPB does give a secondary reason in favor of class actions and that is their ability to promote behavioral changes.
Another unusual aspect of the CFPB’s use of data in creating this rule comes from the use of alerts issued by law firms.
These are summaries sent out to a law firm’s client and others that provide information on recent activity on everything from legislation to court decisions to regulatory actions.
Joann Neddleman, an attorney with Clark Hill, said the CFPB used an increase in alerts warning of class-action lawsuits as part of its justification for the arbitration ban.
Neddleman said attorneys at her firm can’t recall another time alerts were cited in this way.
Buyer optimism, a healthy economy and a generous supply of vehicles are keeping the classics and collectibles market in high gear.
John Crispeno, Manheim Pennsylvania marketing manager, said it is a buyers’ market for classic cars at the auction.
Sellers had the upper hand from 2012 to 2015, “with big gains,” but pre-election doubts drove the prices down last year and they are remaining steady.
The economy has a “huge effect” on the classics market, Kinney says. For many, these (purchases) are indulgences.
Some high-line car purchases are like fashion accessories: what’s “in” comes and goes. Others with deep pockets purchase vehicles as investments.
Those with more modest bank accounts may be more cautious, trading by the old saying don’t spend more than you can afford to lose.
Demographics will play a big role in the future of collectibles. Like most businesses, the classic car market needs to attract younger buyers to keep the hobby relevant.
Barrett-Jackson, the Scottsdale, Ariz., auction long associated with a January mega-sale of collector cars, said it sold 630 vehicles in Connecticut in June for $23.4 million. Customers included younger buyers and tastes ran to collector pickup trucks and “custom vehicles professionally restored or modified,” the company said in a press release.
Millennials and Gen-Xers appear to be attending its auctions in greater numbers, the company says. And two young teens, working with a parent, rebuilt a Bandit Trans Am and sold it at the auction.
While interest in and prices for American cars from the 1950s are flat, and European make values generally are not increasing, muscle cars have recovered from their post-recession doldrums and are in great demand, according to recent Hagerty valuation reports.
“Sales of muscle cars from the ’60s through the ’80s are very active,” said Dave Kinney, publisher of the Hagerty Price Guide. “Younger baby boomers are buying them.”
The Manheim Riverside, Calif. auction began selling classics and collectibles in 2016 and is now hosting a monthly classic/muscle car sale through 2017, says Manheim spokeswoman Jennifer Sheran.
Broad dealer interest shows that consumers still want the classics, she says.
Each Manheim auction determines its interest level in classics sales, Sheran said.
Mark Ford, Manheim’s regional vice president for the Southeast, warns that classic cars are not for all dealers.
“It is a big investment for a niche market, so it is not the right inventory choice for just any dealer,” Ford says. “You have to be an expert if you are buying a classic car to truly understand what you are getting.”
In an economic downturn or period of slow growth used-car dealers may be able to take advantage of reduced prices on collectible vehicles, Kinney said.
“Having a few classics on the lot can be a good draw,” he said.
Consignment dealer Gateway Classics in Dearborn, Mich. is having a banner year. Among the 75 vehicles in its expansive showroom in June was a 1935 Ford roadster with 85-horsepower flathead V-8 priced at $70,000. A 2010 Corvette ZR-1 with supercharged 6.2-liter L59 V-8 had an asking price of $95,000.
“Beginning in January the market has been very strong,“ says Tony Saif. Gateway, with headquarters in Illinois and operations in 10 states, claims to be the world’s largest classic car company.
Figuring a price with the seller is tricky, Saif said.
“It’s hard to separate pride and price,” he said.
Saif says one of the most surprising transactions in recent months was a 1950 Dodge Power Wagon, completely restored with updated engine. It sold for $145,000.
Competition for vehicles remains stiff, although sale results are mercurial.
Gooding & Company, a California-based company that sells at the three top venues for classics sales, reported sales of $43 million at Scottsdale in 2016 and $33.4 million at this year’s January event. RM Sotheby’s totals in Arizona were $62.8 million in 2016 and $53.8 million in 2017.
At Amelia Island off the coast of Florida, Gooding sold $60.2 million in 2016 and dropped to $30.6 million in 2017. RM Sotheby’s reported sales of $38.6 million at Amelia in 2016 and 79.9 million this year.
Part of the success of the 2017 RM Amelia sale was the addition of a private collection that was offered at no reserve. RM boosted its Monterey, 2016 sale in the same manner, hosting a pre-sale auction of a private collection.
Some auctions use classic cars as a way to do more than make money for themselves.
ADESA Boston recently hosted its 17th annual classic car show and motorcycle run raised $17,300 through a live auction, show entry fees and sponsorships. All proceeds benefit JDRF, a leading advocacy group for people with type 1 diabetes.
Cash-strapped states are looking for ways to raise revenues and in many cases that means higher taxes on used cars.
South Carolina recently raised the cap on its motor vehicle sales tax to 5 percent of the sales price or $500. It had been $300.
The extra money is supposed to go directly to infrastructure improvements, such as road repairs. The tax has been renamed the infrastructure maintenance fee.
Used-car dealers in the state wanted to take the opportunity to eliminate the cap entirely, said John Brown, executive director of the Carolinas Independent Automobile Dealers Association.
The cap, even with the higher limit, means that somebody buying a $10,000 used car pays as much in sales tax as somebody who buys a $100,000 new car.
“It has an impact on the people who can least afford it,” Brown said.
The change also means South Carolina dealers will have to pay the sales tax as soon as the title changes hands. Before they could pay it on a monthly or quarterly basis.
The state legislature also increased the gas tax, adding to cost to the cost of car ownership.
Brown said the entire package was the largest tax hike in South Carolina history. Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode him.
Oklahoma legislators also passed a sales tax increase that isn’t called that. In this case, it is a decrease of an exemption.
Vehicle buyers in the state had paid an excise tax of 3.25 percent, but were exempt from Oklahoma’s 4.5 percent sales tax. Under the new law, vehicles sales are taxed at 1.25 percent, along with the excise tax.
Rose Morgan, executive director of the Oklahoma Independent Automobile Dealers Association, said her group partnered with Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Association to prevent the change in the tax law. However, that became difficult in the end as the bill was passed out of committee by a 15-13 vote at 11 p.m. on May 23 and the language only became public on May 24, when it passed the full legislature by a vote of 52-47.
Oklahoma has only one legislative body.
The tax change went into effect July 1, but it faces several legal challenges. A state law prevents the legislature from passing revenue increases in the final five days of a session, which is what happened in this case.
Supporters of the change claim it only reduces an exemption rather than creating a new tax and is therefore within the rules.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected one request to block the tax change, but will hear other arguments in the fall.
Morgan said dealers should continue collecting the tax until then.
California recently raised its tax on gasoline and its fees on vehicles to pay for road repairs.
The state offers a good lesson in the challenge dealers face in opposing higher vehicle taxes.
A tripling of the state’s vehicle tax was a major driver of the recall of then-Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.
California residents voted Davis out of office and replaced him with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The new governor killed the tax hike, but as Larry Laskowski, the executive director of the Independent Automobile Dealers Association of California, explains, consumers still wound up paying more for their cars.
That is because Schwarzenegger raised the gas tax and other fees.
So one way or another, the state gets its money.
The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau created a rule banning mandatory arbitration agreements in contracts used by the entities it oversees, which includes auto creditors and buy-here, pay-here dealers.
The move opens up these firms to class-action lawsuits. The existing agreements specified that consumers must settle disputes via arbitration and were barred from joining class-action suits.
"These clauses allow companies to avoid accountability by blocking group lawsuits and forcing people to go it alone or give up,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Our new rule will stop companies from sidestepping the courts and ensure that people who are harmed together can take action together."
Supporters of the bill consider it a blow to big banks. Some point to the recent Wells Fargo credit card scandal as reason to ban arbitration.
“We fought for this rule because it provides a valuable check against corporate misconduct and are pleased that the CFPB has adopted it to protect the public interest,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey.
However, the rule covers all firm overseen by the CFPB, regardless of size.
"This rule will force small businesses to bear additional costs in defending class-action litigation, particularly meritless suits," said Steve Jordan, CEO of the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association. "Those costs will ultimately be borne by consumers, and in the case of those who are credit-challenged, it could prove to be too much."
Industry insiders have been waiting for this rule since Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Act that created the CFPB. The Act specifically called for a study into the impact of arbitration on consumers.
The CFPB released the findings of that study in 2015 and a rule has been expected ever since.
But many thought that might change with the election of Donald Trump and an anti-regulatory climate in Washington.
The Republicans in Congress can still squelch the rule before it takes effect in three months by invoking its Congressional Review Act authority.
This would kill the rule and bar the CFPB from creating a replacement.
Attorney Michael Benoit said dealers should start contacting their Senators and Congressmen to push for the CRA.
Benoit said affected parties could also take the CFPB to court, arguing that it lacks the authority to interfere in private contractual agreements.
Until the matter is settled one way or another, Benoit recommends continuing with business as usual.
“It’s a little early for dealers and finance companies to take any action other than exploratory actions into what they might do,” he said.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ban on mandatory arbitration agreements faces almost immediate opposition from lawmakers in both Houses of Congress.
On July 10, the CFPB unveiled a rule banning mandatory arbitration agreements in contracts used by the entities it oversees, which includes auto creditors and buy-here, pay-here dealers.
By July 20, several Republicans announced they intend to file a Congressional Review Act (CRA) joint resolution of disapproval in the Senate against the arbitration rule. The move came soon after the ruler was formally noticed in the Federal Register and became subject to the CRA.
“Members of Congress previously expressed concerns with the proposed version of the rulemaking – concerns that were not addressed in the final rule,” said Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo in a press release announcing the intention to file.
Crapo is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. His counterpart in the house, Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, also announced that the House Financial Services Committee has introduced a resolution of disapproval to stop the rule.
The House resolution was initially sponsored by Pennsylvania Rep. Keith Rothfus.
“The CFPB’s anti-arbitration rule hurts consumers and it’s another example of the problems caused by this rogue and unaccountable agency,” Rothfus said in a release. “We know that consumers get better results through arbitration than through class action lawsuits.”
The Congressional Review Act permits Congress to overturn an agency rule within 60 legislative days after an agency has submitted the rule to Congress. Once the rule is overturned, another rule cannot replace it.
Some member of Congress have voiced their opposition to repealing the rule. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, the architect of the CFPB, took to Twitter to voice her disapproval.
“We must have the CFPB’s back as Wall St's buddies in Congress try to roll back the rules,” she tweeted.
However, the CRA only requires a simple majority vote in both houses, so Warren and other critics can do little to stop the repeal.
The Senate resolution has 23 co-sponsors. The House resolution is cosponsored by all 34 Republican members of the Financial Services Committee
The CRA was only successful once between its creation in 1996 and this year. But it has been used 14 times so far this year.
Many CFPB watchers were surprised Director Richard Cordray went ahead with the rule.
“It was pretty bold of him to go forward,” said Terry O’Loughlin, director of compliance for Reynolds & Reynolds.
Everybody by now has heard how millennials are different than the generations that came before them.
They grew up with cell phones and shelves full of participation trophies. They were both more exposed to the world through social media and more sheltered thanks to their helicopter parents.
So how are dealers supposed to manage today’s employees? Do they need to replace all their desks with foosball tables and all the chairs with beanbags?
Chuck Bonanno, national director of Twenty Group operations for the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association, said millennial employees definitely differ from older employees.
“It’s a different set of values as far as what’s important,” Bonanno said.
He said millennials are very intelligent and connected to the world. But they want more of a work-life balance.
“We need to understand what are the incentives that are going to make them happy, what is the culture that is going to make them happy,” Bonanno said. “It is our future. We can’t fight it.”
Dealers can’t cave on everything, but they need to have some flexibility.
This might mean allowing more telecommuting for non-sales staff. That is something old-school dealers find especially difficult to come to terms with, Bonanno said.
They want to know employees are working, but today’s employee doesn’t like somebody looking over her shoulder.
It’s most important to have transparency for rules such as how employees can use their cell phones at work. Millennials are willing to follow rules, Bonanno said, as long as they understand them.
The interactions between dealers and their young staff need a different approach, as well.
Millennials want constant feedback and coaching rather than training, Bonanno said. And they want re-enforcement along with a paycheck.
They also often value their time more than money. A PwC survey of college graduates finds millennials place flexible working hours ahead of cash bonuses when ranking benefits they want from an employer.
That creates a problem for dealerships used to working 12-hour days and selling a lot of cars on Saturday.
“They’re interested in things we’re not interested in them being interested in,” said Ingram Walters, owner of several dealerships in North Carolina.
“Maybe the way we sell cars is going to change.”
The challenge for dealers is that if they don’t give young employees what they want, other companies will.
Brent Carmichael, a Twenty Group moderator with NCM Associates, said some dealers are finding they need to accept 80 percent from an employee. This means adding more staff than before.
Personnel expenses have gone up a little as they hire more people to do the same job, Carmichael said.
One option many dealers are looking at as a result is investing more in technology rather than people.
Young employees bring opportunities along with challenges.
The most obvious is that they better understand today’s customers.
These customers come to the store with information on all aspects of the process, from vehicle to financing, Walters said. Dealerships will need to set themselves apart by selling an experience as much as a vehicle, Walters said.
“The world of their future is going to be customer service,” he said.
Young employees understand this. They also understand how easily the unsatisfied customers can affect business.
“One voice can impact your business far greater than they ever have before,” said Steve Hall, president of Driversselect in Dallas.
The louder voice of millennials –a combination of attitude, technology and sheer numbers – is the biggest difference from past generations, Hall said.
In the end, much of what millennials want is what older employees have also wanted – more transparency, more work-life balance, etc.
“We’re not going to change it,” Bonanno said. “It’s a shift in society. We’re just going to have to manage.”
More consumers say they are willing to give domestic manufacturers a try and the manufacturers are earning their business with higher quality vehicles.
In a recent Cars.com survey among in-market car shoppers, 25 percent of respondents said would consider buying only from an American manufacturer (compared with 13 percent in 2016), and only 5 percent would consider buying solely from a foreign manufacturer.
"In an era of build-American sentiment, a sizable portion of shoppers still care where their car comes from," said WJoe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com's executive editor.
Of the 25 percent of respondents who consider buying only from American manufacturers, over 50 percent cite support of the local economy and brand loyalty as their primary reasons.
Young people are the most willing to give U.S. manufacturers a chance.
Nearly 30 percent 18-24-year-old respondents would consider buying only from American manufacturers, compared with 21 percent of those who identified themselves as being at least 55 years old.
Part of the relucatance from older buyers might come from past bad expeiences with domestic vehicles. But that is changing.
The domestic manufacturers outperformed import brands for the second year in a row in the J.D. Power Intial Quality Study.
In 2017, domestic brands receive a score of 93 PP100 compared with 99 PP100 for import brands. Last year, domestic brands also had fewer problems (103 PP100) compared with import brands (106 PP100).
In addition, General Motors' Fort Wayne, Ind., plant, which produces the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, received the Gold Plant Quality Award for the Americas region.
"The Initial Quality Study continues to demonstrate the critical importance of automakers responding to consumer feedback regarding vehicle quality," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "Any automaker that stands still will quickly start to fall behind."
Lois Keenan has retired after 43 years with the Virginia Independent Automobile Dealers Association, including 24 years as executive director of the group.
Keenan passed the reins to Leigh Dicks.
Sandra Moss, past president of both the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association and Virginia IADA, praised the work Keenan has done over the years.
“To condense all that Lois has done for and meant to the members of VIADA is a difficult task,” she said. “She has been a leader of the Virginia IADA family for so many years. She handled every issue, every request in her calm lady-like way. She was very adept at handling any situation that might arise.
“Lois has been someone I respected and she will be genuinely missed.”
Keenan said it’s been gratifying to see how members volunteered and stepped up when needed.
“(I’ve enjoyed) seeing our volunteers become confident leaders as they shared their skills to enhance VIADA’s presence,” Keenan said. “I have been blessed being surrounded by those who truly went the extra mile to help VIADA be successful.”
Keenan said one of the biggest challenges was keeping dealers informed of changes in laws and regulations in a timely manner.
“Fortunately we have had knowledgeable employees through the years who had dealership experience, understood the industry lingo, and were qualified to counsel our members,” she said.
Keenan said the growth of technology and regulation were the biggest changes she saw over the years.
Moss said Dicks is a good choice to lead the association.
“I look forward to Leigh Dicks’ leadership,” Moss said.
Dicks has been involved in association management for 27 years and is a Certified Association Executive.
Dicks said she already has ideas for some improvements in the group.
“There are a couple of things when I was hired that I was asked to do – foremost was to improve communications via new technology,” she said.
The association has updated the wiring in its offices to accommodate a new phone system and faster internet access.
Dicks will begin using Constant Contact to send emails to members. This will allow her to keep track of opens and clicks to see what really is of interest to members.
Dicks will also be updating the information in the IADA database so she can begin texting important messages.
Learning a new industry can be challenging, Dicks said. She is doing her homework and also relying on the association’s officers for help.
“They know the industry and can explain the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats they must deal with,” she said.
Classics continue to sell for record amounts
Copart Launches Annual Contest
Sale marks our Decades
The Greater Kalamazoo Auto Auction, an XLerate Group auction, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary with…
Dealers Duel For Charity
Rental Cars Perform Well
If a Tree Falls on a Dealership, Will the City Allow It to Rebuild?
IADA Honors a Pair of Veteran Dealers
STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. -The Michigan Independent Automobile Dealers Association honored Jerry Drouillard and Maurice VanCoillie…
LAS VEGAS – Florida buy-here, pay-here dealer Scott Lanier was named the 2016 National Quality Dealer during the recent 70th annual National Independent Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo here....