By Holly Hill, Director of Sales, FLD Remarketing
Seated at a table with a group of seasoned fleet veterans at the 2018 NAFA Fleet Management Association convention, I was struck by how advanced the conversation was as my table pulled our chairs together for a spirited breakout discussion. Despite striving to understand the “big picture” after 26-plus years in specialized fleet services, I suddenly felt oddly out of place among this small group of fleet pros from a variety of our industry’s different disciplines.
It wasn’t so much that they were discussing a topic – Total Cost of Ownership – that I knew nothing about. In truth, my entire career revolved around the biggest TCO factor – depreciation – so it was a familiar topic. Working directly with fleet managers on vehicle resale initiatives throughout my career, I’ve made it my mission to accomplish two things:
- Better understand asset management from cradle to grave,
- Strive to fully comprehend the challenges faced by fleet managers every day
Leaning into the conversation to get a better handle on what our group was tossing back and forth, I began to realize I still had a lot to learn.
Then, it hit me.
Scrawled across each of my tablemate’s name tags was a short four-letter description – CAFM – a term I knew to mean Certified Automotive Fleet Manager. These people were more than ordinary conference attendees, they were dedicated professionals who had gone above and beyond to earn NAFA’s highest accreditation, the CAFM, a diverse program focused on various fleet disciplines.
The CAFM – as its commonly known – is awarded to fleet professionals who’ve successfully completed studies related to NAFA’s eight core disciplines within a 3-year period. Developed more than 35 years ago, the program has graduated countless fleet managers, FMC execs, and more recently, allied service providers as well. From topics like better mastering finance and lease specifics – to being able to explain the effects of proper vehicle maintenance on resale values – I’ve learned that the CAFM curriculum plays a direct role in my job as a remarketer every day.
Each of the eight CAFM disciplines works to make me a better professional, even when I don’t realize it. Whether it’s better understanding assets, or the business, financial or information end of fleet. Or gaining perspective on things like fuel and risk management – and even my own professional development – I’ve gained invaluable knowledge about how the whole fleet process works.
In fact, my CAFM education has even improved the way I handle the discovery process with new and prospective clients. It’s also helped me align FLD’s capabilities to the unique needs, operations and goals of every fleet I represent. These are critical functions that can often mean the difference between exceeding customer expectations versus merely average service. Thus far, the results of my education have been more than I imagined, with many of the skills helping me optimize a host of functions throughout our company’s remarketing process.
Perhaps best of all?
My newfound skills are driving me to be a better fleet professional. I’m more engaged in relevant industry topics, and while my fellow fleet professionals and I have been kept apart because of the pandemic, I know there will be a time when we can all come together and share our knowledge, refine best practices, and work to be the best we can.
Having completed five of the eight disciplines to date, I’m currently holding the CAFS – Certified Automotive Fleet Specialist. It’s a lesser certification level, but I’m looking forward to graduating from the CAFM program as soon as my final three tests are complete in the coming months. Until then, I’m going to work at continuing to broaden my horizons, and to feed the spark that the CAFM program has lit in my professional soul. When I look back – I’m glad I made the decision to pursue my CAFM, and I’m certainly glad that I sat at that table of talented professionals during that breakout session a few years ago!
If you’d like more information on NAFA’s Certified Automotive Fleet Management program, go to www.NAFA.org and get started today. As a fleet professional who’s made that leap, I can assure you’ll be happy you did, and your customers will be even happier.
Holly Hill, CAFS, is Director of Sales at FLD Remarketing, and a 20-plus year veteran of the fleet industry. She’d love to hear more about your experience becoming a Certified Automotive Fleet Manager, or to discuss how the team at FLD can put our more than 40 years of experience to work helping you eliminate remarketing risk by getting you an offer on your end of lease vehicles in hours, and a check for the full amount you agree to in just a couple days. [email protected]