Sustainability and CSR can right a listing ship by helping you attract more customers and cut costs
All businesses go through lean periods, where the sales just aren’t there and cash is tight.
When this happens, the focus often switches away from growth and zeros-in on cost-cutting. The trouble is, whilst it may keep the wolves from the door for a while, saving money can only achieve so much – you can’t grow just by slashing spend.
The situation is worsened by the fact that among the first casualties of spending restrictions are marketing and HR budgets, at a time when you need to be getting seen and need well trained and motivated people to deliver for you.
Sustainability and CSR might not be the traditional ‘go to’ tools to help in such situations, but there are some very valid reasons to consider them.
Use sustainability and CSR to win more business
We’ve posted many times before about the way in which environmental, socially and ethically-savvy consumers are driving change across the entire value chain and putting sustainability and CSR on the agenda.
Rather than risk repeating ourselves (you can check out past blogs on the topic here) we thought it would be better if we just cut-to-the-chase.
The bottom line is that you can differentiate yourself from your competitors and make your product or service offering more attractive by embedding sustainability and CSR principles in your business.
And the good news is, it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. In fact, you can make some decent gains with little or no external cost at all.
For instance, you could start by reviewing your current performance to establish a baseline and identify areas for improvement (you could do this in-house, or you could use a service like our Sustainability and CSR Performance Review that starts at just £895 + VAT and can be paid in installments to help ease any cash flow worries). Then, you could develop a set of relevant policies that set-out the approach you plan to take in future and create some broad goals. At this point, you could put a story about it on your website, let all your existing customers know about your efforts and issue a press release targeting the publications that your customers and prospects are likely to read. Just the act of making a declaration of intent could be enough to spur an existing customer or a prospect you’ve been chasing to place an order.
Next, you could write to your customers and ask them what they are doing about sustainability and CSR and how you can support them in their efforts as a way of helping you reach your own goals. This sort of approach can really make you stand out from your rivals as long as they’re not already doing something similar.
This is the equivalent of sending up a flare to attract attention.
Now cut costs with sustainability and CSR
The great thing about sustainability and CSR done right is that they can take you beyond reputational gains and into really significant monetary savings, whilst also having a material impact on society and the world around us.
For instance, by eliminating or reducing things like raw material consumption, the release of pollution, and waste creation etc, it’s possible to not only help deliver environmental improvements but to also lower costs. Similarly, by improving employee satisfaction, it’s possible to reduce absenteeism and employment overheads.
So here’s an idea: get your team together to work on your sustainability and CSR goals. Make them feel part of it, and show how their efforts will not only reduce the negative impacts of doing business but will help you get the ship back on an even keel. Then get them to examine three keys areas to look for improvements: raw material use and over-procurement; waste and recycling; and energy. Involve them in prioritising which improvements to make first and task them with delivering them – not only will this foster improvements in employee engagement but it will inevitably lead to savings when they implement the identified changes.
Cutting overhead costs like this is the equivalent of throwing jetsam overboard to lighten the ship’s load.
When business isn’t great, it’s a good time to think about leveraging sustainability and CSR to help.
1. Use sustainability and CSR as a way to differentiate your product or service offering.
2. Make sure you communtiate your efforts to your existing and prospective customers.
3. Use your team to identify and implement efficiencies in raw material use, waste and energy in order to cut costs.
Need some help righting your listing ship? If your business is a UK SME and can demonstrate a recent and sustained downturn in performance, then you can claim a FREE no-obligation consultation with one of our sustainability and CSR practitioners who will be happy to give you some initial pointers over the phone or via web conference. Terms and conditions apply, ask for details. To take advantage, [email protected]