The past 12 months have necessitated many “on the run” strategies as businesses have reacted to the ever-changing landscape in the effort to simply stay alive. In the advent of a new post-pandemic era, can we all get back to what was important before, or are we setting a new agenda? For us, it’s definitely a return to the roadmap – technological and sustainable innovation has been our mantra since day one, and the two are symbiotic in their relationship. The value of our technological innovation isn’t just about investing in customer experience; it’s a key in the door to unlocking more sustainable business practice. Of course, it’s not the only one; our focus on continual improvement must be relentless in order to make our contribution to the health of the planet, of society and global economies, matter.
Since May last year we’ve only installed fully digital and online laundry rooms, and in May this year we will start a program to convert as many as possible of our legacy card-based laundry rooms. On conversion, users will connect to our App and the machines to our machine management system; killing off our use of single use plastics, effecting more remotely managed and monitored machines meaning less CO2 on the road, and allowing users to pay only for what they consume. A win for the environment and users too.
This small step delivers a great punch, however to make it, and to keep on making steps requires capital investment. We’ve already committed to our future by building an Engineering Technology team, who are tasked not only with the hardwiring and code but creating sustainable business processes, and sourcing equipment with world leading environmental credentials. We are probably not alone in our focus but it’s pretty clear that the world at large is also coming to terms with the capital cost of sustainability – whilst the desire for change is there, the short-medium term financial impact is significant. Capital over conservation is an equation at odds with our consumer group and the new generations to come; hence we’re in a situation of brinkmanship that shouldn’t exist.
So how can we justify spending money on advancing our sustainability plans coming off the back of a 12-month financial battering? Quite simply, if we don’t the longer term financial and environmental consequences will be harsher than anything that the pandemic has done to us. For sure this approach will have real implications, hence in the future we’ll have to choose projects and partnerships for investment very carefully; making sure both parties have the same agenda, and the joint efforts will yield the best sustainable ROI. Our hope is that in stepping up to the plate, our approach may help show the way for other businesses to integrate sustainability in their core strategy, rather than a separate agenda.
Katy Michell, Managing Director, Washstation