Very young kids cry loudly until they get what they want; hopefully, there's a better way as an adult.
Boss: Well, what is it that you want this time?
Fleet Manager: If you want me to meet my many objectives, I believe that the company needs to invest in more than online and/or distance learning.
Boss: What do you have in mind? You know our travel budget is locked down.
Fleet Manager: We discussed this in early December. Your expectations for me to create and develop updated policies, as well as a complete review of our vehicle selection program, call for more outside training, one-on-one discussions with key suppliers, and establishing a small networking group I can call on when I need real-life experiences to validate an important decision.
Boss: Why is this just coming up now?
Fleet Manager: Because there are any number of events scheduled in the next few months that could help immeasurably in decisions we make ranging from acquisition valuations to corporate policy recommendations by mid-year.
Boss: Well, give me some highlights.
Fleet Manager: In March there is the Conference of Automotive Remarketing (CAR). The auctions and consignors are about to come to an industry agreement on the new multi-platform selling program. Our FMC will be there for details, but it'll ensure top residuals with more sets of "eyes" for every vehicle on the block.
In April is the NAFA Institute & Expo. This is like the "Rose Bowl" and granddaddy of all fleet education events. Over a four-day period, an attendee can cover every phase of fleet management with field experts and networking fleet managers looking for answers, just like me.
The one that might be the most important to consider, though, is the July Fleet Safety Conference; it affects just about everything we do from the individual driver to corporate HR and risk management. This year, the conference will demonstrate the latest developments in technology and the use of predictive analytics and other metrics to identify at-risk drivers. Key take-home value will be the best-in-class studies to develop a corporate-wide safety culture through the use of safety audits.
Later, to be ready for upper management and their sense to go "green," there's the Green Fleet Conference featuring all kinds of hybrids and compressed-natural-gas-powered vehicles, all the new green and plug-in advances, plus the largest green vehicle ride-and drive.
Sprinkled between these conferences are the OEM Fleet Product Preview meetings, where you can (if you have an invitation) meet with the design engineers, learn first-hand about expected order to delivery times, experience an interesting ride-and-drive time (often with competitive vehicles for direct comparison), and get mpg figures.
The networking between factory people and other fleet managers is invaluable and the contacts vital in the future. GM has its two new HD pickups, big SUVs, and all-new City Express to debut. Ford has both the new Transit and the Transit Connect. Fiat-Chrysler has its all-new 200 to spotlight plus the Ram ProMaster van. And, other OEMs have new models as well.
Boss: How do other fleet managers get anything done in the office if they attend all these conferences?
Fleet Manager: They're selective and attend those that have an immediate impact or direct influence on priority decisions to be made. Just one nugget of new information could easily pay for investing in one of these conferences. I also intend to submit a summary of the "take-home" materials and valuable notes to you to more than justify my participating.
Boss: Well, let me take another close look at our budgeting; maybe we can find a little wiggle room.