After seeing an inspiring yet shocking talk about the state of the planet at Virgin Disruptors back in 2015, Nik was motivated to make as many differences to the company and influence as much as possible from a sustainability point of view, up and down their supply chains.
Starting with the low hanging fruit, we replaced all the plastic water cups with reusable glasses (sorry staff you’ll have to wash a glass not throw it away). Whilst we didn’t generate much paper, we were often sent huge case files, of which much of the information was irrelevant. We asked our clients to email documents over rather than simply photocopy a small tree’s worth. We now give our clients API documentation for linking the systems together smartly to reduce time even further. We moved most of our servers onto the cloud.
We looked at hundreds of little things that we did that were wasteful within the office & tried, one by one, to find alternatives, from replacing all the bulbs with LEDs to bringing in live plants to improve our air quality.
However our biggest carbon use came from the mileage our engineers were doing driving all over the UK. The industry was starting to adapt ‘desktop reports’, where the repairing garage would take images of the car, the damage & salient details like the number plates, mileage & chassis numbers. We pushed this service more to our clients, incentivising them by reducing our fee (which we were able to do with our costs being lower).
This was great if the vehicle was in a bodyshop but what could we do when the owner was still using it? Firstly we engaged a network of professional photographers, gave them specific instructions & training guides and instructed them on the level of detail we needed. We had a few dozen engineers, whereas we found a few thousand photographers meaning a dramatic reduction in mileage.
To take this a stage further, we created a weblink, a simple app, that allowed vehicle owners to self serve, by taking a series of guided images. We found that in the vast majority of cases, this was sufficient to compile a report or triage the vehicle, reducing our mileage to zero. We have now reduced our mileage by a staggering 90% in less than a decade.
With lots of staff dotted around the country, we’ve been used to remote staff working from home for over two decades & have developed our software to ensure a seamless fit into the rest of the office. Even prior to the pandemic, we encouraged staff to work from home & now we operate a hybrid system, with staggered working hours to reduce the environmentally costly slow ‘rush’ hour traffic.
We have spent significant time embracing & championing electric vehicles. Hybrids are OK but we agree with Elon Musk that they are only a stepping stone & still use fossil fuels. Our engineers are fully trained on the differences with EVs and the methods bodyshops must utilise to repair them correctly & safely. We have EV chargers in our car park for our staff & visitors use.
Socially we have planted trees both through schemes in rainforests to our local Wirral neighbourhood. Our staff do litter picks & are encouraged to be as environmentally responsible as we possibly can.
Sustainability is now at the heart of company, a key driver in our decision making at board level down to our choice of cleaning products. We have come a decent way, but will continue to improve our sustainability & environmental responsibilities, within our company together with our local community, clients, suppliers & staff.