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Upwardly mobile

By / 6 years ago / Comment / No Comments


Mobility has fast become a buzzword across the fleet industry. The January issue of Fleet World posed the question ‘do mobility managers exist’ and I note that Alphabet no longer describes itself as a vehicle leasing and fleet management company but as a ‘business mobility specialist’.

At face value ‘mobility manager’ may better describe the job of today’s ‘fleet manager’. After all many of us while managing a fleet of vehicles are also responsible for employees moving around the country by other means – bus, train and plane, for example, as well as car.

Indeed, we are also being urged as part of our role to promote the use of teleconference and video conferencing so ensuring ‘meetings’ are held without ‘mobility’, unless you count an employee perhaps moving from their desk to another internal location.

While the job of the fleet manager was historically easily understood, in the last 20 years or so it has morphed so many times that those two words frequently no longer adequately explain the role of the individual that bears such a title.

Although, ‘mobility manager’ in many ways describes very well the job function of today’s ‘fleet managers’, it is a job description I am uncomfortable with.

I do not believe the words ‘mobility manager’ are beneficial to the industry I have worked in for more than 25 years and represent as ACFO chairman.

That is because the words ‘mobility manager’ have connotations outside of the fleet industry. Notably in respect of mobility scooters and wheelchairs used by disabled people and the government funding of mobility allowances.

That is why my job title is ‘fleet and travel manager’ and why, I suspect, Fleet World editor Steve Moody in his article said in 15 years of writing about the fleet industry he had never received a business card with the job title ‘mobility manager’ printed on it.

‘Fleet and travel manager’ may not be as succinct a job description as ‘fleet manager’ or ‘mobility manager’ but it does, I believe, more accurately describe the job I and colleagues fulfil.

My job at its simplest level is to manage how people within the business I work for travel, which could mean by company car, hire car, own car, car share, bus, train or plane or indeed cycle or walk. I have a complete overview of who travels, how, when and where and the cost of any trip.

I must ensure that the company’s policy is implemented and the best value is given to the traveller to make their journey, while also taking into account other factors such as duty of care and the environment.

For example, our policy is lowest price but we don’t want to save a few pounds on a hotel bill if it means young female staff who we employ having to take taxis late at night when a more suitable hotel is conveniently located for the meeting/appointment.

Increasingly, the company I work for is promoting the use of sophisticated audio visual as an alternative to travel. While, in many cases, that may be managed by an organisation’s IT department, it is part of the armoury of the ‘fleet and travel manger’.

Years ago, the traditional ‘fleet manager’ could recite the power output of every company car they managed. What’s important today is to know the total cost of an employee making a journey – including parking, taxi fares, hotel accommodation etc – how that journey will be made or whether an alternative to travel is more viable.

Labelling employees with a simple job title is fine if the description fits. But the role of the ‘fleet manager’ has broadened so much in today’s world – and I’m sure will widen still further – that to pigeonhole what we do with a snappy couple of words could result in a wholesale misconception of the job.

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