At BMW we are committed to a more sustainable future. It’s a commitment that is reflected in every stage of our vehicles’ lifecycles.
From taking the opportunity to use more sustainable materials, to constantly improving our vehicle design, we’re continuing to work on reducing CO2 emissions. We also make use of renewable energy wherever possible.
It is a message that is clearly reflected within our Group Retailer network, where local initiatives are underway aimed at reducing the environmental impact of their businesses. It’s positively transforming how they work and how they interact with customers.
Dublin-based Retailer Frank Keane has embarked on a range of projects. We spoke to Marketing and Customer Retention Manager Robert Dunne about their journey so far.
You’re in a busy competitive business with plenty on your plate already, so what inspired you to put so much effort into sustainability?
I think Covid started us down a certain route, with many traditional methods being replaced with a more digital-first approach.
Then the launch of the new iX as a flagship model was a real spark – excuse the pun. Its messaging was very much sustainability driven, which was also coming from BMW in general. It was a perfect storm really.
Customers should be able to see that sustainable message resonate where they have a physical connection. Doing it in a local way is crucial. We sell and maintain big metal products, but there are things we can really influence from a sustainability point of view.
You’ve carried out a whole range of initiatives, can you tell us about some of them and how you decided which to pursue ?
There’s been lots of thing from small to medium to large, and quite often it’s been ideas from within the business.
- During Covid the sales team started going paperless through Docusign, which is also a way of keeping tabs on paper and water usage
- We switched energy providers and now all electricity across the group is from renewable sources
- Digital business cards were a quick win. The paper ones often ended up in a bin. That was simply a conscious decision to go the right way.
- We’re embracing the circular economy where products are reused and recyclable, and using sustainable suppliers wherever we can.
- A large proportion of our demo fleet is electric or plug-in hybrids, and we’ve invested in a large number of charging points at both our BMW sites.
- We’re embracing the circular economy where products are reused and recyclable, and using sustainable suppliers wherever we can
- A large proportion of our demo fleet is electric or plug-in hybrids, and we’ve invested in a large number of charging points at both our BMW sites
A great initiative that’s had a brilliant response was to give every staff member a Frank Keane-branded reusable Ocean Bottle to remove plastic cups at the water cooler.
And what’s been the results?
Well, 100% of our electricity is from renewable sources which is great. We’re only just starting to get hard facts and numbers. We’re obviously using less paper and plastic and there’s been a definite change in mindset which is just as important. It really has become part of our culture.
How have colleagues and customers responded?
It’s all been very positive. We keep our customers informed on social media and through our monthly newsletter. Now they’re coming to us with ideas, and some have even asked if we have any spare Ocean Bottles!
It’s pleasing that they care, and they tell you they care. It’s been a great way to build relationships.
A really popular initiative was sustainable handover gifts. We had bamboo reusable bottles for the kids and now we’ve been giving them little pots and sunflower seeds. Customers have sent us pictures of the sunflowers which is lovely.
Has it had a knock-on effect in other areas of your life?
I think it’s just become a way of life now. There’s a bit of competition between me and one of the Heads of Business, where he’s sending me links to sustainably sourced shoes and I have an environmentally friendly soap manufacture, and that sort of thing.
Our monthly Customer Board has introduced an element where you can pitch sustainability ideas. It’s fun and there’s plenty of back-and-forth and it gets people thinking.
There’s a company that recycles old fishing nets into swimwear, so maybe next summer it’s swimwear for the staff. It can be light-hearted but with a serious intent.
What’s the next step in your sustainability journey?
We’ve got a few ideas in the pipeline.
- We’re looking at every single element of customer journeys, all the interactions and touchpoints and how we can make them more environmentally friendly
- We want to make sales and aftersales fully paperless and we’re researching how to do that
- We’ve got big infrastructure plans, such as our workshop remodelling with low energy lighting and a more efficient heating system
One of the most important next steps is an independent sustainability audit. We can then devise an action plan and work towards targets. Ultimately, we’ll introduce a full energy management system.
We’re lucky to have a management team and stakeholders who are invested in sustainability. Nobody is shot down for an idea, ever.
Has it made you more optimistic about the future and what is possible to help the environment?
I think when you get involved in these projects you can’t help but feel more optimistic. As a species we got ourselves to a bad place. But every small step counts and it raises the spirit and helps morale.
It gives a sense of togetherness and community, and people take it with them. I love how our different departments are competing on how many bottles they’ve saved by using the Ocean Bottles. They feel good about doing good.