In Europe, the environmental impact of cars is now coming under increasingly strong regulation as the process of transport decarbonisation accelerates. This is seen as a major business opportunity for its carmakers as they compete to have the “greenest” vehicle. LowCO2 emissions are a major sales factor as vehicle taxation moves inexorably towards an emission base.
So, it’s no surprise, when for the first time ever, an electric car, the Nissan Leaf, has been voted the 2011 European Car of the Year by its most influential journalists.
Combine this with the unprecedented rise in fuel prices and there is going to be a revolution in the sort of questions that dealer staff will be facing in the months and years ahead.
At present, customers are confused, faced with a plethora of new electric cars being paraded at recent motor shows, most of which will not reach the market for several years, if at all.
These pressures mean that showroom visitors, having done their research, will be asking many more questions about the environmental performance of their intended purchase. The role of the dealer will be, as always, to provide sound and practical advice, putting the manufacturer’s claims into the ownership equation.
So, as customers start to go green, every aspect of a dealer’s business needs to be prepared. It is a fact that 80% of cars lifetime emissions occur during its usage, so the dealer is in fact the environmental steward, working with customers to keep their cars running at its highest efficiency and thereby maintaining its lowest environmental impact.
It is really a case of practicing what you preach and it starts and finishes with the team at the dealership.
This is a major opportunity for dealers to better promote their image and build their reputation by demonstrating strong environmental responsibility and adopting green HR principals. The increasingly environmentally conscious and discerning customer may be prepared to pay a premium to satisfy their conscience when buying goods and services. Employees too, are tending to look more closely at the green credentials of their employers.
So, just as the car manufacturer is putting major efforts into minimising its carbon footprint, the people in the front line, the car dealers, must demonstrate a continuity of this business practice and have an ever increasing sustainable visibility.
This means having a team in the dealership that both practises and preaches environmental responsibility and can demonstrate this clearly by its actions and knowledge in all aspects of customer communications, be it in the showroom, on the phone or in responding to emails.
Those dealers that take the green HR initiative will be able to further differentiate their businesses from their competitors.
Dealerships needing advice and support to help them to establish or improve their green HR principles and practice can access specialist consultancies, such as Forbury People, who will conduct audits and make recommendations adapting best practice in this new and growing area of management specialisation.
HR Consultant, Forbury People Ltd