Welcome to the first in a series of interviews with our team members here at Enviro Waste.
We believe that transparency is vital for growth and that by sharing the inner workings of our efforts to be the most resource efficient and helpful environmental services company out there, we can inspire business to act with more integrity and consideration. This week, we welcome Barry Lamb, who has some interesting insights to share about his biggest client…
Please can you introduce yourself to the readers?
Hi, I’m Barry Lamb, Senior Commercial Account Manager, and I have been with Envirowaste since October 2015.
Who is the biggest client that you handle right now?
The Office Group, they are a leading provider of design-led and flexible offices, meeting rooms and co-working spaces. They have 31 sites in London as well as locations in Bristol and Leeds. I have been working with them since August 2016 when they first started to use Envirowaste.
What’s your relationship like with The Office Group?
I have a really good working relationship with several of the Building Managers, some that work on the front desk, as well as with the Head of Facilities. I am in contact with people on site on a daily basis. Every site is unique and has its own needs, which are also variable, as it is a multiple-client environment as well. There are times when the work we are doing is directly for The Office Group and other times we are carrying out work for their clients. I meet with the Head of Facilities two or three times per year.
The vital ingredient that I add, that other waste companies may struggle to add, is that I work hard to understand each building, their needs, the small details such as access issues and protocols, their organizational culture, their values and how we can manage each job in a way that ensures we do not disrupt their business. I also directly assist them towards their sustainability goals.
What sort of challenges do you face each week, and how do you overcome them?
No two jobs are the same. There are so many variables, from the waste types that we encounter to the logistics of the building, and who we may be dealing with on the ground. I am someone who focuses on the details. The more detail I have, the better I understand the site and what we are dealing with, this gives me the knowledge to do a more efficient and cost-effective handling of the job. I am also solution orientated, so if we do encounter surprises or problems, I will always ensure that we resolve it quickly and in a manner that is transparent and mutually acceptable to everyone involved.
Why do you feel that Enviro Waste are the best solution for this client?
We go the extra mile in understanding our clients and offer a great deal of flexibility, as well as nurturing a great connection. The comment I most often hear about the waste industry is that the customer service is very poor. If The Office Group needs something that is a little bit outside the box, I will find a solution and work with them on it. In recent months we have looked at various environmental innovations, like providing a proposal for food waste through a process of anaerobic digestion, bulk clearance of a site that was closing on a very tight deadline at short notice, resolving a site access issue with a site where Crossrail were hindering normal access and a thorough waste audit for one of their sites.
Describe the ideal day, and the worst possible day in terms of what could go perfectly or badly with this account?
Most days with The Office Group are ideal, to be honest. More than 90% of the jobs are straightforward and run smoothly without much need for interaction between myself and the site. Typically, a few emails will come in requesting quotes for specific clearances. Most of the time the people on the ground know what information I need and send good pictures so providing a quote is relatively easy. Because I know most of the sites, I can figure out any access issues and understand the building well enough to flag up anything that may be potentially problematic. Beyond the quote being submitted and accepted, the communication path will continue via the service delivery team and I won’t need to do anything further. Some larger or more complex quotes may require a site visit either from myself or someone in operations but these are usually quite routine.
The main thing that can go wrong is if there are access issues because of something that is unforeseen, or if the waste has been added to, and if there are items that we are unable to take on that particular clearance because we are not equipped to handle them. For example, this could mean items that are too large for us to remove from the building safely without a proper health and safety risk assessment and method statements in place or hazardous items without safe handling data sheets. Sometimes it could be just an issue of too much waste and we don’t have the capacity to handle it on the vehicle.
We can usually overcome most issues that are presented on site. The worst thing that can happen is that some detail has been overlooked or miscommunicated from either side and this can result in all manner of misunderstandings. This can be complex, in the worst possible situation it can involve multiple parties with different agendas and priorities, and it’s my job to resolve the conflict, be the peacemaker and find the best possible way forward for everyone to be happy. I always want to find the most efficient, cost-effective and least disruptive way forward whilst protecting our own profitability. The Office Group will want to ensure that it’s the least hassle for them and their clients, whilst at the same time ensuring that their costs are managed within the budget for the work and that they are getting good value from us. Our operations team will be primarily concerned with health and safety, transport efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Sometimes there are occasions where there are tensions, when we are pulling against each other as a result of different priorities, and whilst this is challenging it just takes a bit of patience to ensure that I understand all of the issues. Ultimately we all want the same thing.
This is hardest to achieve in a busy day when there are multiple issues demanding my attention and it actually needs to be dealt with in real time. Ideally, I would have more time and thinking space to process but that’s not usually a luxury that I have. A decision is needed within minutes of a situation coming up.
What do you enjoy most about working with The Office Group?
I like the culture of the organization and how easy they are to deal with. The relationship is not demanding at all. We get along really well.
If you could change one thing about your working relationship as the account manager for The Office Group, what would it be?
Envirowaste and The Office Group are both quite dynamic businesses, which means that we can both be short of time, particularly in busy periods. I would love to be able to build a more strategic and comprehensive plan for them to be less reactive to their needs, be more proactive about their sustainability goals.
What advice would you give to another account manager in the environmental services industry about best practice?
Listen, understand and connect. Make sure that your dominant thought is not about selling your service but understanding and meeting your client’s needs and being creative with solutions. It is 100% about the relationship, shared values, and trust.
Does your office space require some assistance in bringing it up to speed with sustainability and environmental performance?