What makes fleet professionals decide to become a Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM)? The desire to improve. Jonathan D. Ford, MPA, CAFM, Fleet Manager for City of Orlando Fleet & Facilities Management was driven to become a more valuable asset to the City of Orlando. “I perceived it as a challenge to myself,” says Ford, “and felt the need to accomplish it. Throughout my life, I have consistently embraced challenges aiming to better myself personally and professionally.”
John Nelson, CAFM, Shop Foreman for Calgary Fire Department, says the inspiration to achieve CAFM came from former colleague Ray Brisby. “He mentioned it would be of value for the position I am in. I was eager to start and signed up right away, and within two years I achieved my CAFM certification.”
“CAFM provides detailed concepts on how a fleet management company representative can be more engaged with our clients,” says Mohammad Alqam MBA, CAFM, CAR, Remarketing Channel Manager at Donlen. He feels CAFM was a necessity to further his knowledge base and a step to not only advance his career, but to better serve his clients.
“If I had to tie a personal value to this program, the most important would be dependability,” says Ford. “Fleet managers are routinely called upon as subject matter experts. At a minimum, we must know where to acquire answers for nearly every issue under our watch. It is not often that you hear a fleet manager telling someone ‘I don’t know,’ and be comfortable with settling for that. The conversation will almost always end with ‘I will get you an answer.’ We discreetly have that sense of wanting to know the answer ourselves, so that makes us more determined to get that answer. NAFA’s CAFM program provides you with another reliable source to provide them.”
“The pursuit of the CAFM has many advantages,” Nelson adds. “There is a lot of information and many hours of studying for each of the eight fleet disciplines. The program offers technical insight to understand and advance your current business strategy.”
What is the personal value of continuing education? “The fleet world is ever-changing, and one must be a lifelong learner to remain up to date with emerging technologies,” says Alqam.
Alqam particularly appreciated CAFM’s key insights on the legality of fleet management, and what is required to always stay compliant with regulations.
“One of the most valuable things I learned while pursuing my CAFM is understanding performance metrics,” says Nelson. “Working with a municipal fleet, I understand that we perform important work and we must do it efficiently, as we are always accountable to the taxpayer.”
As he was studying and preparing for tests, Ford was able to apply the things he was learning immediately. “Application of methods learned throughout the courses enabled me to be more efficient with responses to end-users and dive deeper into operational practices. Overall, having a live and functioning example afforded me a deeper understanding of the material.”
“In the role of foreman, I can apply my understanding of fleet in my position by working towards the same goals,” adds Nelson. “I started by implementing time sheet estimates for jobs because our fleet is so unique. These estimates gave me a better estimate of time-to-completion, and averaging these times gives me standard job times for fire apparatus. These will help us show our productivity.”
Ford says, “I consistently encourage those professionals transitioning from the Armed Forces, fellow managers, and technicians to enroll in the program. The certification program provides a complete overview of the fleet industry from both, a public and private standpoint, which can provide pivotal guidance to in the absence of quality mentorship or leadership.”
With CAFM as the recognized industry standard for fleet knowledge, these grads did not have difficulty selling their participation in the program to upper management. “We have a great team of managers that advised me to pursue the CAFM certification,” says Alqam.
This is not always the case for every fleet professional, admits Nelson. “Sell it as building an understanding of the best practices of the fleet industry. It will help illustrate the whole fleet package, bringing the goals of fleet management to the forefront, including metrics used to evaluate fleet performance, where you are now and where you want to be.”
“Completion of the program educates leaders who can then use what they have learned to better operations and the staff embedded within organizations,” Ford says. And sometimes, he suggests, getting that upper management buy-in is not even a concern. “I funded most program costs personally, simply as a means to maintain a higher level of self-responsibility. I knew that paying out-of-pocket would create a deeper desire to study and excel in the program.”
These three CAFM graduates advocate students take full advantage of the many opportunities NAFA provides to grow and study. “Partner with a CAFM graduate to utilize studying techniques that identify major concepts,” advises Alqam. “Their experience will help bridge gaps of uncertainty about the material.”
“Take your time to fully comprehend the material,” Ford adds. “Read the material thoroughly and answer all the study guide questions. Fully embrace your support system from leadership, strategic partners, friends, and most importantly, your family.”
Most of all, fully take full advantage of knowing the work, not being satisfied with settling for “I don’t know” as your response to your stakeholders.
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