Fleet News

Fleet Focus: Julie Jenner, ACFO chairman

  • Key quote: 'In the past, we have had to fight to be heard, but now the likes of the Department for Transport and the DVLA are all including us. That has to mean that the profile of the organisation has been raised to such a level that we are a well-recognised and respected voice of fleet operators.'

    AS legislative and environmental pressures mount on fleet managers, the new chairman of ACFO believes sharing problems and experience has never been so important.

    Julie Jenner, who has taken over from Tony Leigh as chairman of the fleet operators’ association, talked to Fleet News about her role and the role ACFO has to play in its members’ working lives.

    ACFO is one of myriad acronyms that regularly crops up in Fleet News, but what does it denote?

    Originally, it stood for the Association of Car Fleet Operators when it was formed more than 30 years ago. But as a significant proportion of the 850 current members also operate vans, the acronym has become the full name of what is known as the fleet managers’ association.

    ‘We are a not-for-profit members’ organisation representing a wide range of views for fleet operators, operating across the areas of the fleet industry,’ explains Jenner, who has been an ACFO member since 1992.

    ‘We cater for members for the public and private sectors. The best thing about ACFO is the networking opportunities. We’ve got nine regions that hold meetings anywhere between four and six times a year, and to get involved in one of those regions you can build up an invaluable group of contacts.’

    Such contacts have helped ACFO build a wealth of resources, such as a popular CD-ROM containing a range of pre-written fleet policies that can be adapted to suit individual needs as well as a guide to managing road risk.

    ‘Someone somewhere has probably experienced the problem that you have,’ Jenner explains.

    ‘Why reinvent the wheel when there are so many people out there with the experience already to help you?’

    It was that sharing of information that attracted Jenner to her first meeting 14 years ago. Since then, she has become secretary and then chairman of the East Anglia region, then became a director in 2003.

    She worked for many years as a fleet manager at Nokia and did fleet consultancy work for public sector organisations.

    Now at GE Commercial Finance, Fleet Services, she works as a solutions manager, which brings her into contact with the assorted issues of a range of clients.

    ‘Perhaps some people won’t see past the fact that GE is a supplier, but my role is to work alongside fleet managers to help them with all these issues,’ Jenner says.

    ‘In some respects, I’m doing the fleet managers’ roles for lots of different organisations. I’m actively involved in fleet issues on a day-to-day basis.’

    The input of experienced fleet managers such as Jenner and her colleagues mean that ACFO is unique within the industry.

    ‘There’s very little correlation between us and the likes of the Institute of Car Fleet Managers,’ says Jenner.

    ‘The institute certainly has a role to play for those people that want a formal qualification, but it is very much about training, which is something we don’t do.

    ‘There are very few problems and issues that haven’t been dealt with before. Even new issues are covered, such as the new child seat legislation – we’ve already had queries about how to include it into policies. A problem shared is a problem halved.’

    Jenner believes the major problems for fleet managers in the immediate future will include the HM Revenue and Customs review into car ownership schemes, as well as environmental schemes.

    ‘I think the whole green initiative is really going to take hold,’ she says.

    ‘There’s going to be pressure on people to drive green. I think many companies take the view that they have got green initiatives, but very few actually implement them in procedures.’

    Another priority for Jenner is to help fleets convey important issues to other departments.

    ‘To a certain extent, some firms have their heads in the clouds and think these things will never happen to them,’ she says.

    As she steps into the driving seat, Jenner believes ACFO is stronger now than it has been in the past.

    ‘There is more and more willingness to involve ACFO from the start in discussions with governmental and non-governmental organisations,’ she says.

    ‘In the past, we have had to fight to be heard, but now the likes of the Department for Transport and the DVLA are all including us. That has to mean that the profile of the organisation has been raised to such a level that we are a well-recognised and respected voice of fleet operators.

    Despite such a healthy outlook however, Jenner has no plans for the association to rest on its laurels.

    ‘There is always room for improvement and moving forward,’ she says. ‘We do not want to be seen as a faceless organisation. We want every one of the directors to be readily accessible to people. We want to encourage a two-way flow of information.

    ‘It’s not about us dictating what to do and telling everybody – we want a real discussion, we want members to come forward that have the specific skills to deal with specific issues.’

    ACFO is looking to start up work groups for specific issues, such as car ownership schemes.

    ‘We would put a mail out saying ‘we want to start up this work group of six fleet managers with experience of this or that’,’ Jenner explains.

    ACFO facts

  • Not-for-profit
  • In existence for more than 30 years
  • 850 members
  • Open to private and public sector fleets
  • Caters to all fleet sizes
  • Consulted by Government, motor manufacturers, fleet suppliers and more
  • Nine regions
  • Regular regional and national meetings
  • Small corporate annual membership fee

    For more information, visit www.acfo.org.

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