The trend toward the globalization of fleet management practices is accelerating. As more companies operate multinational fleets, fleet managers must adapt and grow their skillsets to meet a host of new challenges and opportunities. Fleet management and leasing companies, vehicle manufacturers, and service providers are responding with new solutions for harmonizing policies, finding efficiencies, and controlling costs.
These trends coalesced with the creation of the first-ever Global Fleet Networking Consortium.
The Need for a Partnership
There are a number of professional associations that represent the interests of fleet managers worldwide. One of them is the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA), of which Automotive Fleet’s editor, Mike Antich, is a member and past president.
The desire to launch a global fleet initiative was raised at AFLA’s past strategic planning meetings. The association’s board of directors agreed that, although AFLA was, and should remain a U.S.-centric organization, it was important to recognize the needs of its many members who manage fleets for multinational companies.
“When AFLA embarked on this initiative, there was no organized mechanism for global fleet organizations to network between themselves to share best practices, and market knowledge,” said Antich, who also serves as the North American chairman of the annual Global Fleet Conference, which is a joint venture between Bobit Business Media and Nexus Communication, the publisher of Fleet Europe magazine. The conference alternates between Europe and North America.
AFLA’s board of directors decided to create a Global Committee tasked with seeking and establishing partnerships with fleet associations around the world and asked Antich to serve as committee chair. The other 26 committee members include global fleet managers from multinational companies, along with key managers from global auto manufacturers, fleet management companies, and fleet services providers.
Antich said their goal was to create a true partnership of equals to which individual associations could bring new ideas to benefit their counterparts around the world. They decided to initially call it the Global Fleet Networking Consortium.
“AFLA’s leadership sees that the globalization of the fleet market will be a continued trend in the years to come, and we are thrilled to be a part of the Global Fleet Networking Consortium,” said Bill Elliott, AFLA’s executive director. “As global responsibilities are continuing to be added to the plates of fleet managers and fleet industry suppliers, this consortium gives us the opportunity to learn from and connect with our global peers.”
The committee agreed that AFLA should draft, in cooperation with other fleet associations, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would lay out the principles of the consortium.
“The purpose of the MOU is to establish a partnership that promotes cooperation between fleet associations internationally to allow them to work together to build mutually beneficial relationships,” said Antich.
According to Antich, the individual MOUs signed between the fleet associations are designed to create the framework for cooperation that will enable each of the associations to benefit from collaborative activities in fulfilling their strategic missions. With this, as a goal, the associations agreed to:
- Mutually support each other’s conferences and educational events to their membership.
- Exchange non-proprietary information and best practices concerning their respective fleet markets for the mutual benefit of the members of all participating associations. This would also include reciprocal links to each association’s websites and exchange of newsletters and other non-proprietary communications.
- Share local fleet market information with each association functioning as a resource center for one another’s members.
- Establish regular communication between the leadership of the participating associations by providing quarterly updates on new developments for the potential benefit of each association.
- Commit to continuing dialogue between the participating associations to identify mutually supportive initiatives.
“The long-term vision is to cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship between the members of the Global Fleet Networking Consortium that embraces innovation, which is open to new ideas, and shares a vision of expanding this partnership to other major fleet associations around the world,” said Antich.
The Snowball Effect
The first member of the Global Fleet Networking Consortium was the Australasian Fleet Management Association (AfMA), which has almost 550 members. Antich first reached out to AfMA Executive Director Mace Hartley in June 2016. In August, a contingent from AFLA met with Hartley in New York City and Hartley quickly became an enthusiastic supporter of the new idea. AFLA and AfMA drafted and signed a memorandum of understanding, and the Global Fleet Networking Consortium was officially established.
“The Global Fleet Networking Consortium was a fantastic initiative by AFLA, and AfMA is proud to be the first member to join with AFLA following a face-to-face meeting in New York last year,” said Hartley. “Communications and technology facilitate global businesses; however, laws and operational frameworks for fleet management are vastly different and increasingly complex. This initiative seeks to embrace the strength of each partner and share the combined knowledge with our members.”
AFLA President Michael Bieger said he was encouraged by AfMA’s enthusiasm for the project.
“The Global Fleet Networking Consortium, proposed by AFLA and embraced by progressive fleet organizations across the globe, such as AfMA, the first partner to join this worldwide network, will set the standard for cooperation and knowledge sharing in the fast-paced and complex world that is our industry,” said Bieger, who is also the senior director of global procurement for ADP. “It brings an exponentially greater wealth of resources and people available to fleet managers across the globe than has previously been available; earlier efforts were characterized by single point of contact referrals. Now the power of the partner organizations and their memberships will be available to all. This is a truly exciting new step.”
Next, AFLA and AfMA jointly reached out to the Asociación Méxicana de Arrendadoras de Vehículos (AMAV), which translates to the Mexican Vehicle Leasing Association.
The presidency of AMAV rotates annually and AFLA met with then-current AMAV President Peter Rodríguez, who is also the owner/president for Global Motors Leasing.
The current AMAV president is David Madrigal, who also serves as president of Fleet Management Mexico at Element Fleet Management.
“We are excited to join and be part of the Global Fleet Networking Consortium. AMAV comprises the most relevant FMCs and rental companies in Mexico, and on a daily basis, our members face the challenges of managing large fleets in our country,” said Madrigal. “We are confident that our members will benefit from sharing the expertise, regional challenges, and technology trends within different regions.”
Things snowballed quickly from there. AFLA, AfMA, and AMAV then jointly approached the China Road Transport Association (CRTA). Earlier, Antich had been invited to speak at the CRTA annual conference in Beijing, and he took the opportunity to meet with their leadership team. They were enthusiastic about the idea and were likewise focused on the opportunity to establish partnerships with the other international associations.
The principles of the AfMA, AMAV, and AFLA MOU were endorsed by Roger Ge, vice chairman of CRTA Car Rental-Leasing-Taxi Committee, and the 1,000-member strong association joined the Global Fleet Networking Consortium.
Now four associations strong, as a group, the members of the consortium identified the U.K.’s largest fleet group, the 350 member Association of Car Fleet Operators (ACFO), as their European partner. ACFO’s directors immediately saw value in the consortium and quickly agreed to join. In short order, the consortium had grown to include five associations representing four continents.
“Technology is rapidly shrinking the world, and in the developing age of business mobility, connectivity, ‘Big Data,’ and autonomous vehicles, global boundaries will increasingly disappear,” said John Pryor, chairman of ACFO and fleet and travel manager for the London-based Arcadia Group. “Many of the issues confronting fleet decision-makers in the U.K. will be the same as those being tackled in the United States, Australia, Mexico, and China, so it makes logical sense to pool our collective knowledge, experiences and advice and communicate best fleet management practice worldwide.”
The Global Fleet Networking Consortium will hold its first-ever in-person strategic planning meeting on June 9 at the conclusion of the Global Fleet Conference in Miami. “There, all members of the Global Fleet Networking Consortium will meet to determine how best to work together to better serve the needs of each association’s membership,” said Antich.
Among the areas being discussed is the adoption of an online communication platform to facilitate the sharing of information between consortium members. One consideration is using the existing global online platform – www.globalfleet.com.
Also as of presstime there are two other MOU initiatives in progress. “Stay tuned for forthcoming announcements and new initiatives,” said Antich.