The Women in Fleet Profile series aims to introduce fleet managers to some of the most influential women in fleet. Every month, we will get to know another positive force in fleet.
This month, we spoke with Erin Gilchrist, fleet director for Safelite AutoGlass. She has been with Safelite for 13 years, 11 of which were working in fleet.
Gilchrist is responsible for national fleet operations for more than 8,000 vehicles with an annual budget of more than $80 million and handles many fleet department responsibilities, from associate management to maintenance to procurement and more.
Gilchrist began her career at Safelite in a process analyst role, becoming involved in the company’s charitable foundation and safety council.
“During my first year, I got involved in everything possible to learn about the company, meet people, and understand what makes Safelite AutoGlass a great place to work,” she explained.
The safety council especially interested Gilchrist due to her experience with OSHA audits.
“At the time, our risk director and fleet supervisor held safety council meetings with leaders and technicians in our field operations, which was excellent exposure to this area for me,” Gilchrist said.
When the position of fleet manager became available, the risk director asked Gilchrist to apply.
“He thought my process and operations background would be a great fit for this new role and would bring needed improvements in the areas of customer service, process review, discipline, and creativity,” she explained.
The discovery, review, piloting, and implementation of the telematics program at Safelite, according to Gilchrist, has been one of her top fleet successes.
“It’s been hugely successful in the areas of reductions across all KPIs to include fleet cost per mile and mobile customer served, gallons, fleet cost per vehicle, and has improved discipline, innovation, and driver engagement in tangible ways. While there is much work to be done, this program serves as a foundation for improving fleet operations at Safelite,” she said.
Opportunity to improve fleet safety is just one of the driving forces in Gilchrist’s career.
“I also simply love the fleet industry and its friendly, educational, and collaborative nature. Finally, I aspire to potentially morph my role as a fleet director into a role of mobility manager someday as I believe will be required for mobile service businesses in the future,” she said.
And, after 11 years in fleet, Gilchrist has some advice: “Even if you have no experience in the fleet industry, it’s a role that can be learned. Our industry offers much in the way of education, mentor/mentees, collaboration, networking, benchmarking, etc., to help you be successful and continue to grow and thrive in your roles,” she said.
Experience is only part of our story and what we like to read, watch, and listen to can help paint a fuller picture of someone’s personality. Here are some of Gilchrist’s favorites:
- Book: “I love biographies as well as reading children’s books with my five children. Some of my favorites: 'The Giver,' 'The Sandlot,' 'Holes,' 'The Harry Potter' series, 'Lord of the Rings' series, Sandra Boynton, and Eric Carle,” Gilchrist said.
- Movie: “I can’t pick just one! I love how hilarious and clever Christopher Guest movies are such as 'A Mighty Wind,' 'Best in Show,' and 'Waiting for Guffman,'” she said.
- Song: “I have more than 50,000 songs across almost every genre! Frequent bands on my playlists these days are Mumford and Sons, Avett Brothers, Roo Panes, Radiohead, Led Zeppelin, Van Morrison, Grateful Dead, Jack Johnson, Adele, Alicia Keys, Dave Matthews Band, Beck, Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bob Marley, and Prince,” Gilchrist said.
- You May Not Know: “I am a devoted single momma of five beautiful children, I am an avid cyclist and hiker, I own a Harley, and I recently got engaged!” she said.