The greatest challenge facing the future of fleet management is how we see ourselves as a profession. Are we administrators of a fleet or are we managers? Do we manage our fleet from a tactical level – putting out the day-to-day fires – or from a strategic level focusing on achieving specific long-term objectives? Do we practice strategic fleet management, which stresses the importance of achieving objectives and the use of metrics to benchmark progress? In the future, you will need a strategic management focus to succeed in fleet management; otherwise, you run the risk of fading into irrelevancy.
Many companies embrace strategic fleet management. These companies recognize the strategic aspect to fleet management and view vehicle acquisition, replacement planning, funding alternatives, and sourcing alliances with manufacturers and suppliers as high-level strategic corporate decisions.
Strategic fleet management is a core value of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) as demonstrated by the agenda of its upcoming annual conference Sept. 10-12 at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Hotel in Phoenix. The conference theme -- “Roadmap to the Future” – will provide fleet managers with a “look over the horizon” presented by a who’s who of subject matter experts. The strategic objectives by which you manage your fleet will be shaped by these emerging trends. For instance:
- What are the near-term and long-term trends for fuel prices?
- What factors are driving resale values in today’s market and what is the future forecast?
- What macro economic trends will influence the cost of operating a fleet?
- What new automotive technologies are currently in the product pipeline at major OEMs?
These are the types of questions you need answered to practice strategic fleet management. All of these questions will be addressed at the 2008 AFLA conference. A more detailed description of the conference agenda is at www.aflaonline.com.
Managing Fleet to Meet Corporate Objectives
A strategic fleet manager focuses on fleet policy development, safety programs initiatives, vehicle selector creation based on exhaustive lifecycle cost analyses, implementation of a corporate sustainability program, and the establishment of metrics to manage fleet suppliers.
Fleet managers who attend AFLA strive to rise above the level of simply managing day-to-day work. Besides having a fleet management expertise, these fleet managers are intimately aware of their company’s product line and services, marketing objectives, corporate culture, and the needs of user groups. They are proactive and anticipate changes in their corporate environment. These fleet managers implement fleet programs that contribute to the achievement of overall company goals. For instance, some companies focus on cash flow, while others zero-in on employee retention, hiring, productivity, and satisfaction. Each corporate objective dictates different policies and fleet programs. These managers manage the fleet to support these objectives.
Fleet’s Greatest Asset
The greatest fleet asset is not the “metal,” but rather the strategic fleet manager. This type of fleet manager will always be needed, and his or her role is strengthened when a proactive management style is implemented to run the corporate fleet.
AFLA believes a professional fleet manager validates his or her importance day-in and day-out by cost-effectively managing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars of corporate assets and controlling the expenses associated with operating these assets. It takes years of hard work to develop this level of fleet management expertise. AFLA seeks to provide the resources to cultivate this expertise by providing high-level fleet management education - the fleet equivalent of a post-graduate education.
The annual AFLA conference will generate an ROI for you and your company. A fleet manager, with a strategic perspective, can easily save a company millions of dollars by implementing the right fleet policies and selecting the right vehicles and suppliers. A fleet manager who reduces annual fleet expenses by $100,000 generates the equivalent of $1 million in sales if a company operates at a 10-percent net profit margin.
If you have not registered for the 2008 AFLA conference, I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to embrace (and practice) the concept of strategic fleet management. This is the skill set that will make you indispensable in the eyes of senior management. Now is the time to further your education.
Take the first step by visiting www.aflaonline.com to learn more about what’s destined to be regarded as one of the best (and least expensive) fleet conferences of the year.
Let me know what you think.
P.S. If you are a fleet manager and have never attended an AFLA conference, send me an e-mail to learn how you can waive your conference registration fee by becoming an AFLA member.