Bill Elliott, CAE, executive director of AFLA, speaks at the 2018 AFLA Conference.

Bill Elliott, CAE, executive director of AFLA, speaks at the 2018 AFLA Conference.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Sea Photo.

If you are managing a fleet of corporate vehicles, you owe it to yourself and to your company to make the pilgrimage to the annual AFLA Conference.

The Automotive Fleet and Leasing Association, founded decades ago by Ed Bobit and a few rebellious suppliers, has evolved from a casual gathering (with an always-open bar) to a must-attend event for anyone looking for the latest and greatest info on commercial fleet management.   

One consistent theme you’ll hear at our annual Fleet Hall of Fame induction ceremony every year is the power of networking and the power of long-term relationships in the industry. The people who had the most success, who managed the best run fleets, who built great businesses from the ground up, those are the people you run into every year at AFLA. And they are available. It’s not uncommon to sit down at a table and hear people like Mike Sims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Lee Pierce with Nutrien Ag Solutions; or Dan Frank of Wheels Inc. sharing stories and offering great insights into the business to fellow attendees. 

I’m not sure if there is any other venue where there are so many people with so many years of experience in one place where you can actually interact with them.    

As much as we all love some of the bigger events that occur in the industry, there is often a lot of chaos, distraction, and noise that hinder the ability to do any real networking. The AFLA Conference, along with some of our other more intimate meetings, allow for a different level of connection between fleet managers and even between suppliers.

And if you are a fleet manager having a problem with one of your vendors, chances are you might run into the president of that company during the meeting. Working with sales reps in the field is great but nothing gets a vendor jumping through hoops faster than an unhappy customer doing a direct download to a senior executive about ways they are not getting the job done.   

There is a real temptation to rely on Google, LinkedIn,, or your FMC as a sole source for fleet management help. No doubt you can survive with those resources, but you are missing out on some potentially game changing information when you don’t get out to meet regularly with your peers.

Whatever challenge you are facing, chances are there are a whole bunch of fellow fleet managers who have had the same challenges and they just might be able to save you from making the same mistakes they made. But you’ll never know if you don’t get out there.    

Related: The $500 Car

About the author
Sherb Brown

Sherb Brown


Sherb Brown is the former president of Bobit Business Media. Sherb has covered the auto industry for more than 20 years in various positions with the world's largest fleet publisher.

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