Under the Microscope: We talk to ICFM chairman, Paul Hollick
14 February 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
The world of fleet management is changing and fleets need to be ready. That's the message Paul Hollick, chairman of the ICFM, is giving its members as the organisation strives to adapt to an industry that is moving fast as technology advances.
Connectivity, cardless payments and telematics are evolving so quickly these days that Hollick admits it's tricky staying up to date. The organisation is looking at ways it can help fleets not only keep pace, but also better utilise this new technology as it arrives.
Autonomous driving, in particular, is an area Hollick wants the ICFM to be up to speed with, to help its members not only understand the technology but also harness the benefits, but he admits time is of the essence.
"It might seem like 10-15 years away but in reality the window is three to five years," Hollick tells BusinessCar. "We want to make sure our members are educated and ready to create strategies around the technology. Essentially, our members will be able to save money and they need to tap into this as soon
Hollick wants the ICFM to be pivotal in helping inform members about how this technology works and believes that the industry as a whole needs to spend more time collectively digesting and reflecting on how to best use autonomous driving because it'll soon be time for fleets to take action.
To reflect the changing face of fleet, the ICFM is constantly looking to adapt its training to meet future requirements and develop courses relating to mobility and travel. It also works closely with the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association as well as the Association of Car Fleet Operators to help keep courses relevant and up to date.
"We're collaborating well and making sure we are strategically aligned. Our joint vision is that every ACFO member is an ICFM member and vice versa, and we will see more collaborative work together in 2017," says Hollick.
ACFO and the ICFM started working together six years ago and have representation on each other's boards, share membership initiatives, and join forces to collectively promote the benefits of each organisation and their respective conferences, seminars and other events.
The ICFM also offers a service where members can ask an experienced panel of fleet managers and ex-fleet managers for best practice and advice.
"It's always a challenge for our members to stay up to date with the latest innovations. Fleet managers in January and February will be looking to iron out their strategies for the coming year so we will be busy. In November, following the Autumn Statement there was also an influx of enquiries," he says.
Established in 1992, the ICFM is the UK's only independent not-for-profit organisation dedicated to furthering the education of car and light commercial fleet management.
In 2016, membership increased by more than 5%, with the organisation training more students than ever. Currently, with around 800 members who are on the road to, or have achieved, qualification, the ICFM is looking to grow this figure to 1,000 by 2018.
Hollick admits that the organisation has a large proportion of SME and blue-light members, but not enough blue-chip companies or public sector bodies, an area he is looking to increase in 2017: "We'd like to grow and especially attract members that manage fleet part-time. A company that wants to move forwards in the right way will invest in its people."
The starting point to the ICFM's training is an online one-day Introductory course, which gives a basic understanding of the fleet industry and is designed to cover the foundation principles of car fleet management.
Next is the ICFM fast-track Intermediate programme, which comes with a certificate in Car Fleet Management and an upgrade to full membership status within the institute. It's a popular choice for fleet professionals and is made up of three modules, which take a total of eight days to complete and run two to three months apart. The course aims to provide good all-round knowledge of the fundamentals of fleet management and procurement.
Finally, there's the Diploma, a tutor-led programme that covers a higher level of strategic planning for fleet, and equips managers with the knowledge to review and write car fleet policy to help attain board management approval.
These courses are at the heart of the ICFM, although the organisation also offers Fleet Masterclass modules, introduced in 2015, to help members remain informed on the latest issues, legislation changes and trends in the marketplace. It's an area Hollick is particularly keen to see grow moving forwards as take-up has been slow.
"We try and run the Fleet Masterclass modules as and when they are required and on topical subjects. We also modify the appeal to the current climate, but it's an area we need to concentrate on growing in the immediate future."
In 2016, corporate membership was also introduced, which runs alongside the current three-tier membership for fleet managers.
Designed to appeal to employers that provide a wide range of products and services to fleets, it's hoped that the Corporate Investor Programme will further boost membership and get closer to that four-figure target.
"It's an exciting time in our development. We're getting a lot of opportunities from working with corporate members. We're hoping to get at least 100 members join by the end of 2018 and we think that should be easily achieved."
The ICFM is targeting all businesses operating in the fleet industry, ranging from contract hire and leasing companies to daily rental operators, fast-fits and risk management providers. It aims to help educate and provide training to all employees whose workload touches on fleet management so they can assist their customers better.
Each year the ICFM sees a growing number of members join whose role is not traditional fleet - for example, transport managers and finance professionals who may look after fleet but it isn't their core responsibility. It's an area Hollick believes will continue to grow as the job of the fleet manager evolves.
"The buzzword is mobility, where we have travel management and other disciplines incorporated into the role of the fleet manager - it's becoming a real mix," he says. "Once members complete the Diploma they tend to go on their own voyage of discovery and the role of the fleet manager is a lot more complex and varied than it once was."
Having been in the industry for a number of years, Hollick has seen the role of the fleet manager change quite significantly as technology and outsourcing became more prevalent, but regardless of how much technology advances, he believes there will always be a requirement for a fleet manager in the future.
"One thing that has massively changed is before a fleet manager really needed
to know his onions about the mechanisms of a car under the bonnet to do their job. Today that isn't the case and it's all about the data and strategy," Hollick concludes. "Fleet managers rely on the supply chain. The sad thing is that there are less people because some things can be outsourced - but strategic planning cannot and there will always be a need for a fleet manager."