Championing fleet needs

The role of the fleet manager, alongside ACFO, the UK’s representative body for fleet decision-makers, are both long‑established and mature, but that is not to say that the status quo should remain.
The organisation is more than 40 years old and throughout its history has continued to evolve. It is my intention that it will do so further as it continues to function to serve the ever‑changing requirements of fleet decision-makers and the role they perform.
It has become clear to me and ACFO’s board over the last two years that day-long seminars that examine key fleet manager issues in great detail via presentations from subject-matter experts are hugely popular with members.

ACFO briefings
Seminars examining transport issues in the run-up to the highly successful 2012 London Olympic Games and more recently that have explored the pros and cons around electric vehicles and got to grips with the nightmare issue of parking and traffic offence fines have attracted significant audiences. The board will be announcing further seminars in the coming months and the programme will complement existing ACFO regional meetings.

But it is my intention to try and bring more structure to those meetings so they better reflect what is happening across the fleet industry and, consequently, increase member attendance.
Supporting fleet operators
One idea, for example, is that each region’s spring and autumn meetings will become “fleet briefings” with members given a comprehensive overview on key issues including: legislating and regulatory news, motor manufacturer and supplier issues, updates on fleet events and information on what ACFO is doing.
I hope that such an approach will encourage more employees with fleet responsibility across public, private and voluntary sector fleets to join ACFO, which will continue to promote best practice in an ever‑changing fleet world.

Critically, ACFO will also continue to champion the views of fleet decision‑makers to external agencies – notably Government departments, such as HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Transport and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.

It is critical that those organisations, as well as motor manufacturers and suppliers, understand how fleets work and the requirements of fleet managers and company car and vans drivers.
During 25 years working with a leading fashion retailer, I have seen numerous developments across the fleet industry and, as a result my role within the organisation has continued to evolve.
Today my job title is fleet and travel manager, giving me responsibility for not only 600 user-chooser company cars, but 800 employees who drive their own cars on business trips and travel across the business.

Three years ago ACFO published From A to B: The ACFO Guide to Journey Planning, which was designed to provide a thought‑provoking basis from which all organisations could look at just how effective – and sustainable – their existing mobility options were.
The guidance and case studies remain as relevant today as they were then. Cost management, carbon footprint reduction, risk management, business efficiency and effectiveness and time management are all issues that impact on business travel.
Historically, the car has always been the preferred form of travel for the vast majority of business meetings and appointments. But this is not always the optimum option in terms of cost, time, reducing risk exposure or carbon-cutting, for example.
My role is to analyse the ‘total journey’ and enable staff to make the required trip, once it is determined necessary, by the optimum means. That could mean by company car, hire car, taxi, car‑sharing, public transport or air.

An evolving role
Importantly, one of the jobs of the fleet decision-maker is to educate staff as to their employer’s policy and the reason behind its adoption.

For example, some companies encourage the sharing of cars if more than one employee is travelling to the same location at the same time with the payment of HMRC’s tax free 5p per mile passenger rate. Not all organisations do this but most should.
Overseeing the company’s entire travel and related expenses budget provides me with a complete picture of the journeys made and related expenditure. It is, I believe, critical that fleet decision-makers have that view and can provide boards of directors with ‘total journey cost’ data – not simply information relating to cars and vans.
The evolving role of the fleet manager is to manage total mobility for their employer. There is a logic to that because organisations then have all travel managed from one location instead of via disparate departments. As a result, the role of the fleet decision‑maker, far from being endangered, should be viewed as an evolving, vibrant and critical job function within all organisations.

Further information

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