When Doug Weichman, CAFM, director of the Fleet Management Division for Palm Beach County, Fla., took the reins of the NAFA Fleet Management Association (NAFA) as its 32nd president last year, he shouldered the responsibility to carry on its more-than-half-century legacy.

Halfway into his two-year tenure, Weichman recently surveyed his and NAFA’s Board of Trustees’ accomplishments in 2011 and gave a preview of what he expects for NAFA in 2012.

Building Membership

Perhaps one of the most significant milestones for NAFA last year was its growth over 2010.

“When most associations saw double-digit declines in membership, NAFA’s membership grew by 3 percent in 2011,” Weichman observed.

One reason for this growth has been a result of NAFA’s improved image.

“From a branding standpoint, the improved image and perception people have about NAFA led more fleet professionals to join and participate in our activities in ever-increasing numbers,” Weichman added.

According to NAFA, the 2011 I&E saw a 30-percent increase in attendance, approaching pre-recession levels. And, as a sign that the economy is definitely on the upswing, the Expo completely sold out a month prior to the show.

“From a services standpoint, we improved our annual conference, seminars, webinars, and websites to make them the biggest and best in the industry,” Weichman said. “The improvements were affirmed with phenomenal attendance at the conference and seminars, a sold-out Expo, record-breaking participation in our webinars, and exponential growth of the number of unique visitors to our websites.”

In addition to the content of the I&E, Weichman also credited making the annual gathering more accessible with more flexible registration options. NAFA began sponsoring monthly webinars for those who could not travel to regional or national meetings.

The Association also further expanded its reach beyond the U.S. borders with a new international seminar. Weichman said that NAFA is gaining international prominence with partnerships and outreach.

NAFA also continued to impact members’ daily lives with its programs. The Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) program saw enrollment and graduation grow significantly, and the lifecycle cost analysis interactive tool also proved to be a “phenomenal success,” according to Weichman.

Emphasizing the industry’s commitment to safety, NAFA launched its Safety Advisory Council in May 2011.

The council will work to keep appropriate topics in the minds of NAFA members by suggesting safety-related articles for NAFA publications and creating new products and guides. The Council will speak for NAFA about fleet safety; recommend safety classes for NAFA’s annual conference; work with NAFA’s FleetED Advisory Council to produce annual or bi-annual accident data and loss data surveys; review and keep relevant articles in NAFA’s database current; work cooperatively with NAFA chapter leaders to disseminate information about national, regional, and local safety programs; standardize metrics/reporting and benchmarking against agreed-to standards; and work with local NAFA chapter safety committee leaders to gather information and act on their suggestions.

The NAFA Safety Advisory Council is led by a council chair appointed by the Association president. Donna Bibbo, CAFM, manager fleet and travel for Novo Nordisk, Inc., was appointed by Weichman to lead the council as its first chair.

From Weichman’s vantage point, the new resources were definitely key in making NAFA more valuable for its members. “From a products standpoint, we boldly stood by our slogan of ‘fleet solutions for fleet professionals’ by launching several new guides and an outstanding lifecycle cost analysis tool. Add to this the momentum of our certification programs, which have seen record-breaking enrollments, and it is clear that NAFA truly was ‘the source’ of all things fleet for the vast majority of professionals looking for solutions in 2011,” he said.

All these positives — increased membership, I&E registrations, and use of NAFA products and services — culminated in putting the Association on a solid financial footing with a fully restored reserve fund.

“[Last year’s activities] resulted in a financial picture that is nothing short of miraculous,” said Weichman. “In short, as conscientious stewards of [members’] dues and other payments to NAFA, the Board of Trustees and staff enhanced the Association’s financial stability by cutting expenses and increasing revenue streams, while at the same time providing [members] with more and better services. The restoration of NAFA’s reserve funds will enable us to do even more for [members in 2012] and in the future, without impacting their wallets.”

Sustaining Momentum

Weichman isn’t sitting on his laurels. He has ambitious plans for 2012, which include:

  • Incorporating outcomes from NAFA’s three strategic planning sessions into the Association’s strategic plan.
  • Continuing to strengthen NAFA’s committees, boards, advisory councils, by giving them the resources to continue to meet membership needs in the most efficient and timely manner.
  • Implementing the Beyond Fleet campaign to support fleet managers.
  • Making the I&E more accessible with flexible registration options.
  • Strengthening NAFA Chapters.
  • Gaining international prominence through partnerships and using the newly created international vice president position on the Board of Trustees — who took office during this year’s I&E — to raise NAFA’s international profile.
  • Reaching new membership markets.
  • Providing more value for membership dues.
  • Using technologies — such as apps, social media, and virtual chapters — to make members’ lives easier.
  • Making the FleetED website more user friendly.
  • Establishing new accreditation standards for fleet operations and “green” efforts.

Time will tell as to how many of these efforts will come to pass in 2012, but if 2011 is any indication, NAFA members can expect Weichman to sustain the momentum he started in 2011.