Our climate change champion Richard Hagan, managing director of Crystal Doors, explains why a focus on sustainability makes good business sense especially at a time when energy prices are sky high.
Inflation, supply disruption, cost of living… in many ways, 2022 feels like we’ve jumped out of the frying pan of Covid and into the fire. Businesses of all sizes and sectors are having to negotiate price increases that could potentially lose them work, offer pay deals to keep employees from leaving, and hold stock levels at the cost of cashflow.
Customers, understandably, want answers today. When will their order be delivered? How much will it cost? What helped Crystal Doors was investing in a new online platform that offers our customers real-time visibility of stock. Not only did this give customers peace of mind, but we also began to see cost savings by reducing our range of seldom-sold foils and boards.
When the shocking price inflation we’re all grappling with today came along, I had little choice but to increase our own prices. But there are ways we can work together to dampen the impact, by offering discounts for immediate payment and flexible pricing.
Even with profit margins as tight as they are, we are nothing without our team, who are living through one of the worst cost-of-living crises. I offered bonuses in return for hitting productivity targets, and they didn’t let me down – targets were smashed immediately, unlocking a 4% pay rise for all.
This year, more than ever, I believe leading a small company has to be about creativity, new thinking and close engagement with every stakeholder. Dealing with these difficult times requires caring for peoples’ well-being and supporting them wherever possible. Small businesses pull together in times of crisis and that’s what we must do. Sacrificing people for profit will only make things worse.
Saving the planet is also a winning strategy. High energy prices are the new normal; analysts believe they will remain in excess of historic averages for at least the rest of this decade. As part of our sustainability strategy, Crystal Doors has invested close to £2 million in energy-saving upgrades since 2015. When our energy prices doubled, so did the savings provided by our solar panels, LED lights, variable speed motors and high-efficiency pumps.
At today’s energy prices, solar PV can pay for itself within two to three years, and LED lighting within a year for most. With green finance options now widely available, you don’t have to pay a penny upfront.
So don’t give up on your sustainability plans – putting people and planet first is a no-brainer.