Fleet News

ICFM Conference 2005: Formal training aid to fleet manager success

THE importance of formal training in the fleet industry was one of the key messages to emerge at the Institute of Car Fleet Management’s annual conference in Coventry.

Impact of professional training

WHEN Jenny Powley joined the fleet industry in a sales role in 1990 she found it to be male-orientated with a lot of discussion about cars.

She could count the number of female clients she had on one hand and admits her knowledge of cars was limited.

Today, Powley is strategic customer director for Arval and in 1996 was one of the initial group of four students to have achieved the ICFM’s car fleet management diploma qualification.

Speaking of her experience, Powley said: ‘It was the best thing I ever did. It meant I understood the barriers and problems facing the fleet manager. And I came out of it a lot more confident.’

On the importance of training, Powley told delegates: ‘The more trained and professional people you have will support our industry going forward.’

Commenting on Powley’s presentation, ICFM chairman Tom Madden, director of customer affairs at remarketing company BCA, said: ‘The knowledge gained from training can give you empathy with the people you are selling to.’

Fleet manager’s changing role

THE changing role of the fleet manager over the years was highlighted to delegates by automotive expert Professor Peter Cooke.

He said the position had evolved from a reactive to a proactive one and that in the future their job title would be best described as personal business mobility planners. Cooke, professor of Automotive Industries Management at Nottingham Business School, stressed the importance of ensuring fleet issues got the boardroom attention they deserved.

He referred to research carried out earlier this year that suggested 23% of boardrooms never discussed fleet.

Cooke added: ‘You may find there are fewer incidents involving drivers if they know that fleet, including the number of accidents there are, is being discussed at boardroom level.’

Cleaner cars can be greener still

TODAY’S new cars produce between 10% and 20% less pollutants than the cars of 20 years ago – but the fleet industry and car manufacturers can collectively work together to reduce emissions further.

That was the message delivered to conference delegates by Peugeot fleet and leasing director Steve Harris.

Manufacturer objectives include increasing the use of diesel, improving the efficiency of engines and sharing knowledge.

He said drivers were seeking better fuel economy and reduced emissions while at the same time wanting better safety features, which can add to the weight of the car, and increased performance, both of which increase emissions.

Harris said: ‘We all need to be very focused on the whole issue of vehicle emissions.’

Fleets could use driver training not only for safety reasons but to ensure company motorists travel economically. They could also base their choice lists around fuel-efficient cars, Harris said. He added: ‘Much has been achieved but there is more to be done.’

  • Peugeot was sponsor of the ICFM conference. ICFM certificate achievers

    The conference rewarded a number of people for their efforts in achieving key benchmarks for levels of training in fleet management.

    The training Achiever of the Year Award went to David Tidman of the RNLI. Other awards went to:
    Introductory Certificate: Michelle Bailey – Epwin Group; Lia Corrigan – Chivas Brothers; Claire Hammond – Princebuild; Melana Shickle – KPMG; Ian Webster – British Geographical Survey
    Certificate: Sally Armstrong – Freight Transport Association; Andrew Barrington – British Car Auctions; Aileen Cairns – Scottish Power; Michelle Hallam – Fisher Scientific; Stephen Laycock – Appleyard Vehicle Contracts; Norman Newsham – British Car Auctions; Kirstie Osborne – Toyota Financial Services; Ian Plumridge – Surrey Police; Greg Purchase – North West Wales NHS Trust; Robert Rodgers – Scottish Power; Steve Roper – Prudential Fleet Management; Margaret Stewart – Imserv Europe; Sara Wisnieski – Yell Group
    Diploma: Stephen Kirby – BT Fleet Partners; David Tidman – Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)

    Road safety legislation a ‘terrifying’ challenge

    A FLEET manager operating more than 3,500 vehicles has told how she found the potential repercussions of not complying with major Government legislation into work-related driver safety as ‘terrifying’.

    Susan McDonald, fleet manager at communications company ntl, highlighted a number of challenges that faced the company as it introduced measures in order to comply with Work Related Road Safety guidelines.

    McDonald, who in 2004 won the Fleet News Fleet Manager of the Year, 400-plus vehicles award, told delegates: ‘The repercussions of not complying were quite terrifying.’

    She and her small team soon set to work putting in measures in order to ensure the company complied and delegates at the ICFM conference heard some of the challenges they faced.

    They included not knowing where to start because the guidance was ‘overwhelming’, a lack of funds, high staff turnover and cultural change.

    On the last point, McDonald said: ‘Asking people to record things was not in our culture – I became known as an anorak.’

    The fleet manager also spoke of the invaluable support she received from her fleet suppliers when introducing policies and procedures, such as driver training programmes.

    Training is essential to cope with growing role

    SUPPLIERS to the industry need to ensure their staff are highly trained if they are to engage properly with the fleet managers they are attempting to sell services to.

    Terry Simcock, fleet manager at consumer products giant Unilever, said the growing role of the fleet manager meant all sides of the industry must put training at the top of their agenda.

    Simcock said: ‘My time in fleet has changed dramatically. When I started I had no computer, everything was done in-house and as far as duty of care is concerned I think we were always two weeks late sending the tax discs out. And there was no training.

    ‘Today, there are more and more systems, we outsource to leasing companies, offer alternative car schemes, the customer comes first and duty of care is very important. And training is now essential.

    ‘If we deal with a leasing company we want people who have been properly trained.’

    But he added that it was also vital for fleets themselves to give staff the proper training they deserve.

    He told delegates: ‘Putting my staff through training with the ICFM is the best thing I have done.’

    Penalties for drivers who don’t clean cars

    ‘WASH your cars’ was one of the key messages delivered by BCA executive Leighton Scanlon.

    But instead of proffering advice on how to fill up a dull Sunday afternoon, Scanlon said giving end-of-contract cars a good clean and having minor damage repaired can add pounds to their value when they go through the auction hall.

    But moves towards getting a good return at disposal start when drivers actually choose their vehicles, he added.

    Scanlon, general manager, logistics, BCA, said: ‘It’s about educating the driver. More thought needs to be put into the vehicles people are allowed to choose or you could lose out in the end.

    ‘People need to know what effect their specification choices are going to have on used values.’

    But to ensure cars remain in tip-top condition through their life with a company, fleet managers should introduce an audit on vehicles, checking for light damage etc, in their company car park.

    Scanlon said: ‘Drivers need to be punished if they break the rules. That’s the best way they will learn.’

    Training is essential to cope with growing role

    SUPPLIERS to the industry need to ensure their staff are highly trained if they are to engage properly with the fleet managers they are attempting to sell services to.

    Terry Simcock, fleet manager at consumer products giant Unilever, said the growing role of the fleet manager meant all sides of the industry must put training at the top of their agenda.

    Simcock said: ‘My time in fleet has changed dramatically. When I started I had no computer, everything was done in-house and as far as duty of care is concerned I think we were always two weeks late sending the tax discs out. And there was no training.

    ‘Today, there are more and more systems, we outsource to leasing companies, offer alternative car schemes, the customer comes first and duty of care is very important. And training is now essential.

    ‘If we deal with a leasing company we want people who have been properly trained.’

    But he added that it was also vital for fleets themselves to give staff the proper training they deserve.

    He told delegates: ‘Putting my staff through training with the ICFM is the best thing I have done.’

    Pollution, pineapples and a greener planet

    THE bizarre combination of company cars and pineapples are partly to blame for damaging the environment, conference delegates were told.

    Cars because of the emissions they produce and the fruit because consumers expect them to be available on supermarket shelves seven days of the week.

    ‘And how do they get on the shelves?’ asked Stewart Whyte, director of Fleet Audits.

    ‘They are air-freighted to us.’

    While the fleet industry has no power over consumers’ growing demand for choice, it can play a major role in reducing the pollution caused by company cars, Whyte added.

    Offering a series of tips, Whyte said fleets should choose cleaner cars, drive less, drive more economically, monitor fuel use and apply for a free health check provided by the Energy Saving Trust.

    He urged: ‘Think global and act local.’

    Commenting on Whyte’s speech, ICFM chairman Tom Madden praised the fleet industry for having the cleanest cars on the road today. As a result, he said, older, more polluting vehicles were replaced when they entered the used car market as ex-company cars.

  • Leave a comment for your chance to win £20 of John Lewis vouchers.

    Every issue of Fleet News the editor picks his favourite comment from the past two weeks – get involved for your chance to appear in print and win!

    Login to comment

    Comments

    No comments have been made yet.

    Compare costs of your company cars

    Looking to acquire new vehicles? Check how much they'll cost to run with our Car Running Cost calculator.

    What is your BIK car tax liability?

    The Fleet News car tax calculator lets you work out tax costs for both employer and employee