Fleet News

Career development: Is your supplier trained?

TACKLING a job with no formal training is possible – but additional skills can often mean the difference between a successful company and a not so successful one.

There are several avenues fleet decision makers can take for training. However, thousands of businesses choose to forgo training in fleet management altogether and instead outsource to an external group.

But how do they know that staff at the external company are adequately trained in fleet management?

If fleets do decide to put day-to-day operations in the hands of a contract hire or leasing provider, they need to be assured that the people they are dealing with are appropriately qualified and trained to deal with the role.

The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) offers its members the opportunity to study for a certificate, a diploma, an MBA or an MSc in fleet management in conjunction with the Nottingham Business School.

The contract hire and leasing industry now has many individuals who have successfully completed one of these training courses, which cover topics from managing products, services, operations and people, through to financial resources.

ALD Automotive is one group which has increased its annual training budget and has put several employees through the MBA course.

Pete Eggeman has worked for ALD Automotive for four years and has been employed in motor finance for 18 years. He has obtained his diploma in management, automotive after completing two years of the three-year MBA automotive course.

He said: ‘As an industry, some of our potential clients look at us and question our professionalism and knowledge. Therefore, anything we can do to make ourselves more professional should be supported.

‘Although I have been in the industry a number of years, business is changing rapidly and clients are ever more questioning about our products. By obtaining professional qualifications it gives confidence to customers that they are talking to someone who has in-depth industry knowledge.’

Decision-makers should question providers on their practices to ensure that efficient, fully-trained staff are looking after their fleet.

Keith Allen, managing director of ALD Automotive, said: ‘Widespread management expertise in the fleet industry is rare as companies generally are not very good at succession planning.

‘By encouraging our staff to undertake professional qualifications we not only want to improve their understanding of the industry but we also want to give them the skills to develop as people and to strive for promotion with ALD and in the industry.’

The Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) offers several courses, including a diploma. Fleets looking to outsource management would be advised to check whether the key account manager looking after their business at least has one of the ICFM’s recognised qualifications.

Questions to ask suppliers

  • Ask if the key contacts have relevant fleet industry training and which qualifications they hold. These could include the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association’s own recognised diplomas, the Institute of Car Fleet Management courses or additional certification such as those gained on independent seminars or workshops.

    The BVRLA also recommends fleets go further than simply asking what training the outsourced supplier encourages.

    Additional enquiries should include:

  • Ensure that the supplier provides the service for which it is being contracted.
  • Be sure of the financial soundness of the company – check with a credit rating specialist like Dunn & Bradstreet.
  • Ask for references – and check them out thoroughly as you would with any other supplier.
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