Christy Coyte Meyer, Johnson Controls : Recognizing the differences
As a USA-based fleet manager with global responsibility, Christy Coyte Meyer of Johnson Controls certainly has a few things to say about the different markets. And she doesn’t hold back.
What were your initial impressions of the European fleet market when you had dealings at first hand?
Christy Coyte Meyer: “When I became responsible for the global fleet, I was not fully aware of the significant differences in the markets. Programs and initiatives cannot be as easily implemented in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) region as they can in the USA. For example, in the USA, we can negotiate with the manufacturers for vehicles that we use in all 50 States – the pricing is the same, the discount we get is the same – so it is much easier to make decisions that impact on product choices in the USA than in Europe.
I learned very quickly that it may not be the best solution to implement the same brand, the same model across Europe. Pricing, taxation, product availability, all vary according to the region or country.”
What are the main challenges facing a US-based fleet manager responsible for Europe?
Christy Coyte Meyer: “It is good to have European-based managers working because they know the market, the issues, and work closely with the internal customers. Another challenge is the ‘one size fits all’ thinking. When I first became involved in Europe the US managers would have liked to standardize globally in terms of vehicle type, eligibility and so on. It was considered that a Vice-President in the USA, a Vice-President in Germany, a Vice-President in France… should all be eligible for the same vehicle. So it was quite a challenge explaining why it couldn’t be done.…
Along with this, market for eligibility for a company car is much lower in the employee scale in Europe than it does in North America.”
So what are the easiest mistakes to make?
Christy Coyte Meyer: “To assume that the European market is similar to the North American market.”
Finally, do you see differences in car fleet related areas?
Christy Coyte Meyer: “I think that for a company not in energy efficiency, it may be very different. But Johnson Controls is in energy efficiency so these issues are very important to us. We have implemented a lot of initiatives to make our fleet greener in the USA as well as in Europe. But it probably remains true that when it comes to benefit vehicles, the green issue is more important to drivers in Europe than in the USA, for taxation reasons among others. The ‘gas-guzzler’ tradition hasn’t completely gone away yet, but we have policy restrictions at JCI to avoid them.”
What is your top tip for other US-based managers who take responsibility for Europe?
Christy Coyte Meyer: “Learn the market, meet with the European human resource/compensation people in your organization, meet with the fleet management companies and manufacturers to get a full understanding of the market and its challenges.”
Johnson Controls International
- Sector of activity: Energy efficiency
- Head of global fleet: Christy Coyte Meyer
- Job title: Director Global Fleet
- Number of vehicles globally: 13,000
- Number of countries: 40 +