In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Bobit’s ‘Bucket List’

With no apologies to Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman who starred in the movie, I present my own (fantasy/real-life) wishes. They reflect reader feedback on associations serving fleets.

April 2, 2013

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American Automotive Leasing Association (AALA)

Its membership may be small in numbers, but these are the top execs of the nation’s largest fleet management companies (FMCs). AALA is very professionally managed and has powerful influence on possible legislation that might not support industry goals. It’s well funded and has acted as an agile and cohesive force when threatened.

● Suggested considerations: Since the advent of full-service outsourcing to FMCs, we’ve all heard about and have been touched by the horror stories of how the corporate accounts released their highly paid, full-time fleet manager upon signing.

The usual resulting scenario is then a “replacement fleet manager,” formerly a clerk or from the secretarial pool taking on the function. FMCs continually insist they fully support the idea of a fleet manager to communicate with and relate the corporate culture. They “talk the talk;” now it’s time to “walk the walk.”

● Solution: AALA should require members to agree that, when it solicits accounts, the quote includes an ongoing, online training program for the designated fleet manager. It should especially include courses on measuring outsourcer performance and one for honing skills in auditing invoices versus contract agreement. It wouldn’t be that expensive and we’d gladly give a prize for the best, most effective training program.

Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA)

In 1969, I helped form this group and was then the association’s quasi director (and HQ office) for many years. I’ve established a close affinity as I watched it mature and serve as a hallmark conference for veteran commercial fleet managers.

● Suggested considerations: While it’s enjoyed some able association management firms to assist (mainly) administratively, the individual Board members leading the group varies in strength from year to year. This is understandable, with the dependence on volunteers to accomplish goals when everyone has a full-time job, plus their own personal obligations.

That being said, there’s been some slippage. Committee chairs aren’t as active in some areas. Some budgets are not adhered to. Promotions are not as consistent and creative. The conference agenda appears to have too many inspirational or comedic-type headliners, instead of industry leaders. Even veteran fleet managers need exec approval; spa-type venues and entertainment headliners don’t support participation.

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.

-Washington Irving

Continuity of purpose is one of the most essential ingredients of happiness in the long run, and for most men this comes chiefly through their work.

-Bertrand Russell

Without some goal and some effort to reach it, no man can live.

-Fyodor Dostoevski

● Solution: AFLA really needs to consider a full-time, proven director who can exert 100 percent of his or her energies serving. (I’m not a candidate, although we might have office space available as we did for many years.) Such a person could coalesce and grow the already fine membership and lead the committee chairs, plus be the sponsor solicitor. I envision some now retired ex-fleet manager or a fleet supplier rep with good business skills and a personality to be a prime candidate. Let’s keep AFLA on the upswing.

NAFA Fleet Management Association

This is the largest in membership, conference attendance, and educational resources for the fleet market. It is well managed with chapters nationwide. Membership has remained steady at just over 3,000 (after a high of nearly 3,700 a decade ago). Its annual conference and trade show attracts more than 600 fleet managers and twice as many supplier personnel. Its leadership and Trustee Board are now representative of its membership and making better “bi-partisan” decisions.

● Suggested considerations: Keep finding presidents like your current one and try to alternate with commercial fleet managers (versus public sector). Accord less time on the “self-aggrandizement” recognition of members who volunteer their efforts. Private “attaboys” work, too. Listen more to your supplier affiliates who furnish the key financial income for success.

● Solution: Reconsider giving Affiliates equal membership partnership. NAFA then would have a networking utopia with everyone on board. Your current conference essentially is a take-away from work for an entire week. Even veteran managers have problems with this; cut it back. Also, shift one of your quarterly board meetings to meld with the conference and save time and money for everyone.

Well, these are a collection of interactive reactions I have noted from many, many readers. Most were constructive and sincere over the past year. Our industry is fortunate to have three groups that have the fleet manager’s interests at heart, or they wouldn’t exist. Let’s hope that, together, we can make them better.

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

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Former Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, former Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflected on issues affecting today’s fleets in his blog. He drew insight from his own experiences in the field and offered a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.


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