The world's first internationally accredited carboNZero certified insurance broker is providing an example to Aussie brokers who are serious about the risk management and sustainability issues they talk about with their clients.
Apex Insurance managing director James McGhie is a man proud of his green mission who likes to surround himself with like-minded employees.
But even he admits that his staff took a little convincing when they heard he wanted to track their work vehicles with a GPS system in the name of sustainability.
“There was some resistance with staff feeling it was a bit like Big Brother,” says McGhie. “They asked ‘why’ and said that no-one else was doing it but from our point of view it’s important that we take sustainability seriously.
“For years we’ve talked about risk management for our clients, and this is a huge part of that and if we don’t understand that, how can we sell it to our clients?
“So it’s not Enemy of the State or anything, it’s about practising what we preach.”
McGhie says their fleet is a big expense to the business and in order to improve on their CarboNZero annual audit, it was something they needed to measure.
“Being a member of CarboNZero means we are constantly looking for ways of understanding our costs which contribute to our carbon footprint. If we can minimise wastage we improve our profit, it’s better for the environment, and means a sustainable long term future for our business.”
They looked at various options then settled on Navman Wireless, installing the tracking units in June this year.
McGhie says they have already seen improvements in terms of operating efficiencies and cost savings through reduced petrol consumption and less wear and tear on vehicles.
“Because people are more aware they are taking more care,” he says, adding that staff members are enjoying the fact they can now plan out their journeys.
Because the GPS system maps out the best route and directs them so they are less likely to get lost, and can even alert them to avoid routes with traffic jams, staff are saving time in their working day.
“It’s quite incredible what you can do with the technology,” says McGhie, who believes they are the first insurance brokers in New Zealand to implement it.
This is another string to add to their growing bow, which includes being the world’s first internationally accredited carboNZero certifield insurance broker in 2012, gaining certification after just 12 months, and being finalist in the emerging business category in the 2012 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.
The next plan is to give the sales force challenges such as reducing their quarterly petrol usage and rewarding them for making savings.
“We’re hoping to get the staff involved in coming up with ideas, it’s something we could have a lot of fun with,” he says.
Among their clients that would benefit from such technology would be heavy transport, courier companies, taxi fleets, even heavy machinery.
“A company with any kind of fleet would benefit,” he says. “If you’re a plumber with four vehicles you could monitor how long your guys are sitting in traffic and not billing clients so you can see where work’s being wasted; you can break down the cost of vehicles and charge it to customers if you’re not someone who’s office based. In a world that’s changing with Health & Safety, it’s good technology to have.”
McGhie says they are excited about passing the benefit on to their clients.
“It’s about practising what we preach. Let’s implement it, understand the technology and then pass that benefit on to our customers and they’re rewarded for that.”