Employers will insist on proper training in future
‘FORMAL training got me where I am today – and in the future employers will insist on qualifications for fleet managers.’
That is the view of Richard Flint, head of transport for Strathclyde Police, who manages a fleet of 1,200 vehicles, a string of workshops, 60 staff and a budget of about £8 million.
Before he got the job in 2000, Flint had been fleet manager of Durham Police for four years, operating 340 vehicles. As a member of the ICFM, he reached Diploma level after winning a scholarship to study and is now a Fellow of the Institute.
He told delegates at the ICFM conference: ‘Training with the Institute of Car Fleet Management got me where I am. My fleet manager is also ICFM Diploma trained.
‘In future, in these sorts of jobs it will be desirable to be ICFM trained and eventually it will be absolutely essential on your paperwork to provide proof of qualifications in fleet management.’
Flint has to contend with a wide range of vitally important issues during his daily routine.
He said: ‘There are a number of unique vehicle types and my department does all the routine servicing, accident damage, acquisition through outright purchase, disposal, tenders and so on.
‘In addition, we have about 300 pushbikes which are going to become the responsibility of the fleet because of the health and safety considerations involved.’
Invest £10,000 and save a million – that’s a promise
AN investment in formal training of less than £10,000 between four staff over two years led directly to a fleet saving £1 million a year on its budget.
The investment was less than £4 per person per day. The massive return, about £700 per person per day, came directly from introducing initiatives and practices available to trainees taking Institute of Car Fleet Management courses, delegates heard.
John Webb, national fleet manager for Customs and Excise, who has taken ICFM training up to certificate level and was ICFM achiever of the year in 2003, has put his team through the same courses, said: ‘I am a very proud member of the ICFM. Training has made a real difference to the way our department delivers its objectives and provides real value for money for the fleet.’
The Customs and Excise fleet has 2,400 vehicles in the UK, covering everything from boats and specialist vehicles to cars. It covers 40 million business miles a year, has 11,000 drivers and about 10,000 car hire bookings a year.
Webb explained: ‘It is a big budget, with big risks. Would you give millions of pounds to untrained staff and tell them to get on with it? But that is just what happens in fleet and companies could find their risks growing out of control.
‘I am passionate about training. I did not have a long history in fleet before taking on this job, but it has tested all my skills. Without training, I don’t think we would have achieved what we did. Experience is something that you don’t get until just after you need it. It is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.’
Call for more funding ‘angels’
BUSINESS ‘angels’ are being called on to help provide funding to support a new scholarship programme which pays for fleet decision-makers to fund their formal training.
The scholarship scheme has been launched by the Institute of Car Fleet Management in response to comments from fleet decision-makers that they would like training, but are not being supported with funding by their employers. Among the first supporters to provide funds towards the scholarship is Leasedrive.
At the conference, Roddy Graham, commercial director of Leasedrive, was congratulated for supporting the scheme by ICFM chairman Tom Madden. James Langley, chairman of the training and education committee for the institute, said: ‘It would be wonderful if we had a pot of gold to help fleets – and now we have. Over a period of time, we will see a series of funders, but I am happy that Leasedrive has become the launch funder.’
Langley added: ‘For all our training schemes, we would love to hear from fleets or suppliers whose staff need training.’
The first fleet manager to receive a scholarship under the scheme is Sally Armstrong.
Dire warning over cash-for-car schemes
TENS of thousands of fleet drivers could have opted out and moved into private cars for use on business that are not effectively monitored by employers.
The problem could affect as many as 75,000 employees, according to the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association. Its estimate comes from an in-depth study of latest figures from the Inland Revenue which showed that the number of tax-paying company car drivers has fallen from 1.6 million to 1.35 million. Of these 250,000 ‘missing’ drivers, it is estimated about 100,000 are in structured opt-out schemes where the company can still monitor the maintenance standards and insurance on the vehicle, but it counts as a private car for tax purposes.
There has also been a large increase in the number of pool cars.
Robin Mackonochie, of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, told delegates: ‘It could be concluded that 75,000 drivers have taken the cash option and acquired their own cars. There are concerns that these are being used for regular business trips but they are outside any structured safety management programme.’
He added that research had shown that drivers opting out of company cars often chose a less fuel efficient and more polluting car, because there was no longer a company car tax penalty for driving a car that produced high levels of CO2.
Changes create an ideal atmosphere for fleet cost savings
CHANGES in the car market have created huge potential for fleet managers with the expertise to take advantages of the opportunities that have been created for running a more efficient fleet.
Since the introduction of changes to Block Exemption, the new car market has been in a state of flux.
Matthew Carrington, chief executive of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, told ICFM conference delegates that although there was little change so far in terms of servicing and parts availability and a wider range of suppliers, change was on the way. He said: ‘There will be challenges. Look to what type of car you put on your fleet, where you get your aftermarket work done, because successful independents will be able to access the market much more effectively.’
The need for change is clear, according to Dr Andrew Tongue, of the International Car Distribution Programme (ICDP).
Research has shown there is a problem with low effectiveness in the industry, or providing a ‘right first time’ approach.
ICDP research showed that in the new car market, just 52% of orders were delivered without problems of which customers became aware.
Tongue said: ‘This ‘right first time’ philosophy could be used to assess a manufacturer, leasing company or dealer. What would your supplier’s results be?
‘We will have to wait and see whether all these changes are problems or opportunities for the industry.
‘But fleets can take advantage of these problems by sourcing and delivering their services in innovative new ways.’
Months of study rewarded
AT the conference, fleet decision-makers who had spent months and years studying were rewarded for their efforts for achieving key benchmarks for levels of training in fleet management.
Jason Jones, Gavin Brownlie and Glyn Tisdall, all from auction giant BCA, received their Introductory Certificate Awards. Members receiving the Certificate Award were Jane Farley, Customs and Excise; Sara Cook, BskyB; Emma Cox, Deloitte and Touche; Mark Bradbury, HSA Healthcare and Darren Marchant, Appleyard Vehicle Contracts. A Diploma Award was handed to Paula Knight, PinkRoccarde UK.
Fellowship Awards were given to: Karen Ramsden, Oracle; John Wills, Prudential and Diane Miller, NextiraOne. Sara Cook was also named Trainee of the Year.
How the ICFM works
The ICFM was founded in late 1992 by nine fleet managers. They were answering a call from the fleet industry for an organisation to be established to train and educate car fleet managers and to establish recognition for fleet managers within the industry and commerce in general.
Training aims to lead to an academic qualification recognised and accepted by the car fleet industry as the requisite for the profession.
The ‘core’ training and education scheme is three-tier, leading to awards at Introductory Certificate, Certificate and Diploma levels.
The Introductory Module caters for new entrants to the car fleet function and comprises one distance learning module coupled to a job-based assignment.
The Intermediate (Certificate) Module caters for members with operational (rather than strategic) responsibility in all aspects of car fleet management.
It is available in supported distance-learning format (five modules) or residential tutor-based format (‘Fast -Track’ - three modules).
The Advanced (Diploma) Module covers advanced techniques, skills and knowledge required for strategic management of the entire fleet operation (or support services).
It is delivered through four residential modules at Loughborough University Business School.
Assessment is via job-based assignment at Introductory level, assignment reports and examinations at Certificate level and projects and dissertation at Diploma level.