Trucks at Work

Boosting fleet manager visibility

“In the past, there’s been a need to ‘sell’ the value of the fleet internally due to the rise of outsourcing efforts. Nowadays, though, with the economy down and municipal budgets so tight, such outreach offers a way to explain to the municipality as a whole how the fleet can be critical to helping various government entities solve bottom line issues.” –Phil Russo, executive director of NAFA, formerly known as the National Association of Fleet Administrators, discussing the organization’s new “Beyond Fleet” campaign

NAFA, formerly known as the National Association of Fleet Administrators, is formally launching a new campaign this week to boost the visibility – and, hopefully, respect for – the fleet management profession; an effort largely undertaken to in support of those serving municipal, state, and other government organizations.

Dubbed “Beyond Fleet,” the campaign addresses a long-held grievance of fleet managers serving in a variety of niches – that there is a lack of respect for what they do both in government and in the business world as well.

“Let’s be blunt here: politicians don’t get re-elected because the city, county or town’s fleet shop is super-efficient. They get re-elected based on reducing the cost of government and providing good service to the citizens for their tax dollars,” Douglas Weichman, director of the fleet management division for Florida’s Palm Beach County and NAFA’s current president, noted in a story on the subjectearlier this year for one of Fleet Owner’sbrethren publications, American City & County.

“Yet in many organizations, the fleet manager is one of the few people who is totally plugged into the business,” he added. “Fleet managers typically know where the money comes from, where it is, and where it is going; this is a business of metrics and has been for decades.”

That’s why Weichman pushed for NAFA to roll out the “Beyond Fleet” campaign last yearand why it’s being championed strongly by Phil Russo, NAFA’s executive director.

“For too long, the fleet department has been the ‘silent’ partner in helping government get its various jobs done,” he stressed. “It’s high time to realize that it’s next to impossible to do all the government is required to do without a super-efficient fleet.”

Russo pointed out that today’s fleet managers are not only responsible for purchasing and maintaining often millions of dollars worth of vehicles and other, they are responsible for conducting lifecycle cost analysis, fuel management, vendor management, data collection, integrating sustainability programs, vehicle remarketing, selecting information systems, vehicle financing, managing human resources, dealing with fleet-related legal issues, driver training, risk management … the list goes on and on.

“Fleets must become more than simply a line item on a municipality’s budget, not just for their own sake but for the sake of the municipality’s fiscal health as a whole,” Russo pointed out.

“Fleet managers need to become part of the budget conversation, to find ways to get their voice heard within the ‘inner circle’ guiding municipal strategy, so they can bring their knowledge and resources to the table in the hope of helping the municipality as a whole function more efficiently and at a lower cost,” he said.

As a result, NAFA’s “Beyond Fleet” campaign is centered on a series of internal and external initiatives to gain executive-level recognition for fleet managers, educate fleet managers on their value and worth to their employers, and equip fleet managers with the tools they need to sell and promote themselves to their employers.

“We have crafted a digital suite of tools at featuring presentations and template letters for fleet managers to utilize and show their employer they are more than just the 'car guy' or 'car gal,’” Russo said. “From print advertising to radio spots, videos, social media, and even music, our message will be clear, concise, and to the point. It’s a campaign that will demonstrate that a fleet manager's value to his or her employer is, indeed,’ beyond fleet.’”

Also, along with stock power point presentation formats, letters, access to webinars and other communication resources, NAFA plans to make a group of 10 to 12 of its veteran fleet management members available as “mentors” to help coach their peers in communication and outreach efforts.

It’s a big – and in some ways long overdue – effort to make a variety of different entities, but especially in government circles, aware of the value good fleet managers provide every single day they are on the job – especially where conserving ever-more precious dollars is concerned. 

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