A fleet manager’s insight with Kristy Simmons

By November 17, 2022 Fleet Management

Kristy Simmons is a fleet manager at Coca-Cola, and she has taken the time to share some of the challenges and highlights of working in the fleet industry.

I asked Kristy some questions about her time as a fleet manager and the organisation she represents.

Do you enjoy working in the industry and what have been some highlights?

Kristy has worked with Coca-Cola for roughly 15 years but jumped into a fleet role 5 years ago to find the fleet industry has no two days that are the same, every day is different.

“Working in the fleet industry has opened my eyes up to another world, I really enjoy the contact and the interactions with different people. Everyday is different, I could be working and speaking with the GM around safety one day and the next helping one of our guys on the side of the road who has got a flat tyre. The spread of people I work with is quite huge and quite unique too, I could even end up speaking to police about an incident on the road. That’s what I enjoy the most, that variation in meeting and speaking to different people.”

Tell me about your team and the roles they play in helping a successful fleet

Kristy does not have an official dedicated team to help manage Coca-Cola’s extensive fleet but relies on strong partnerships.

“It’s a key partnership with our FMO, we really rely heavily on them for administrative aspects. I also work heavily with procurement when facing decisions and direction around the fleet.”

What are some of your goals as a fleet manager?

“Recently EVs have been a buzzword within the industry, and I would like to see an EV strategy implemented as we are yet to do that. While I don’t see our fleet changing to fully EVs within the next five years, I see us bringing in some electric vehicles to test and build our own database on and see how they operate including the cost associated with it.

“We have started the journey by moving about 80% of our vehicles over from petrol vehicles to hybrid vehicles as a first step. However, the work involved, and the infrastructure needed to complete the journey is enormous, it’s not just about buying EVs. Another challenge is getting our internal key stakeholders to understand the full journey and the required steps for a full beginning to end process.”

What are the priorities of your fleet and organisation?

“The three key priorities are safety, costs, and sustainability.

Our safety journey has been quite impressive over the last 2-3 years. We had challenging numbers when it came to speeding and driver behaviour. We did have telematics which provided the data for that, however, 2 years ago we made the business decision to turn on sign-posted speeding as opposed to having a buffer which has seen speeding infringements come down roughly 95% in the last two years.”

Tell me about your fleet, how many vehicles, what locations they operate in, etc?

“We have a nationwide fleet, with tools of trade vehicles across the country. Our national fleet is Roughly 1400 vehicles in total split between SUVs, utility vehicles, Prado vehicles for regional areas, heavy-duty trucks and, equipment vans for fridge technicians.

“A very broad spread of vehicle type and very role-specific fleet.”

What are some changes in fleet have you noticed or been affected by in recent years?

“Supply chain issues and increase in costs have been a huge factor and challenge.

“When I first started 5 years ago, we could order a vehicle and it would be here in four months without any issues. Supply chain issues mean we can’t get vehicles in and generated extra costs.

“There have been huge spikes in costs including fuel costs and repair costs. The average accident used to cost roughly $2000-2500 to fix and we are now looking at roughly $4000 to $5000 for repairs due to supply chain issues.”

Is there anything further you would like to add?

“The evolving car market and EVs make fleet an exciting place to be in for the next five years.”

A huge thank you to Kristy Simmons for taking the time to share with us her experience in the fleet industry and Coca-Cola’s fleet goals.

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