Founded in 1992 with a mission to raise standards of professionalism in fleet management, the Institute of Car Fleet Management (ICFM) has been forced to undergo a transformation over the past couple of years.
A decline in the number of fleet managers running company car and van fleets has led to the not-for-profit organisation developing courses for the BVRLA and manufacturers.
It has also broadened its fleet training services to reach a whole variety of new job titles that play a role in modern fleet management.
“The role of the fleet manager compared to 10 years ago is barely recognisable,” says Roddy Graham, ICFM chairman.
“A key challenge for us has been to expand our services to accommodate the HR staff and finance roles that oversee the fleet management within companies.”
A trend towards outsourcing has resulted fewer fleet managers as more companies look to contract hire firms and fleet management specialists.
The ICFM believes core fleet management training is still essential for these suppliers of fleet services.
“Contract hire companies are taking on new staff in need of training. The same could be said for human resources and finance staff.
“An organisation that runs a fleet can save tens of thousands of pounds by an understanding of driving efficiencies within the industry,” explains Graham.
Consequently, more than 60% of the 68 staff undergoing the Introductory Certificate this year are from the industry.
Over the past few years, the ICFM has been building relationships with ACFO and the BVRLA to further strengthen its exposure within the fleet sector.
It has added value to those organisations and finetuned the training for their specific needs, including developing and delivering the BVRLA’s Professional Fleet Consultant Development Programme.
“Our programme was launched in October 2008 and has been enthusiastically welcomed by leasing and fleet management,” says Nora Leggett, the BVRLA’s head of member services.
The association commissioned the ICFM to put together the programme as it is ideally placed to help the sales and account executives tap into the needs of their fleet clients before preparing a proposal.
After winning the Training Award at the 2010 Fleet News Awards, the ICFM has gone from strength to strength.
This year it has trained 109 people on the Introductory Certificate, Certificate and Diploma courses and another 17 on the BVRLA course.
Last year it trained 60 people, plus 18 on the BVRLA programme.
“To gain recognition for all the hard work so many people have done was something we were absolutely thrilled with,” says Graham.
“We are a unique non-profit organisation that is run by industry experts in their own free time,” he adds.
“The fleet industry has had a tough time over the past few years but we have gained confidence in companies’ investment in ICFM training through the recession.”
The courses offer a transportable qualification which employees can take with them.
The trainers, who have regular jobs within the fleet sector, make the courses unique because of their empathy, knowledge and skills.
Pass rates over the past couple of years are around 65% for the Intro Certificate, just under half for the Certificate and 90% for the Diploma.
The ICFM has also worked with manufacturers to develop courses that give their sales teams a better understanding of the requirements of car and van fleet customers.
The institute also offers a scholarship fund for those whose employers cannot afford to pay full training fees.
The ICFM is confident it can continue the growth it has enjoyed throughout the last few years.
A key objective is to introduce new certificate courses for grey fleet drivers.
This is an area Roddy Graham believes has a real demand and need within the industry.
“Grey fleet has seen a rise in persona within the fleet world. We have put together a module for 2011 that caters especially for grey fleet. So many companies are yet to get to grips with this area of the industry,” he said.
“We will continue to look for corporate supporters to enable us to do even more within the fleet industry.
“We are in an exciting period for ICFM and everyone is ready to help strengthen tomorrow’s fleet industry.”