Tuesday, 9 December 2014

eReco on Tour ‘Amnesty Live 2014/15’

Don’t worry – I am not going to sing.

I am a reluctant desk jockey. I like to be out and about, life on the open road and all that jazz. I also genuinely like meeting people face to face. Telephones are functional things. You lose the facial expressions and body language which are so important in building rapport. I also like to know when people have smiled at one of my jokes. I also irritate the hell out of Michelle (Our toner recycling program administrator) and Denise (credit control, accounts and all round good time gal) and have to give them a break occasionally before they kill me.

So last Friday I decided to tackle our local town, East Grinstead in West Sussex, ostensibly to promote our rather excellent Amnesty aimed at local residents, giving them a chance to get rid of their old PC’s, laptops etc whilst ensuring that the hard disks are properly wiped. We have been in the East Grinstead Courier (http://www.eastgrinsteadcourier.co.uk/) and on Meridian 107FM to promote the notion of data security to the uninitiated, so I wanted to follow that up with local businesses so that they could tell their employees. Full Amnesty details can be found in the news section on www.ereco.co.uk

And yes, of course, I had an ulterior motive. I wanted to sell our services too. Because if you are a regular reader of this blog you will know that far too many businesses are unaware of what they should be doing with their old equipment. I reckoned that I would have a nice soft approach to get talking to people, and that would lead to other things, as is my want.

East Grinstead is a fairly normal South Eastern town for the uninitiated; real commuter country, clearly prosperous in places and in others just a tad the other way. A nice little town centre with a few empty shops, the usual selection of charity shops, a big Waitrose and a Sainsbury’s. For those that don’t know it, we are 8 miles from Gatwick, 30 from Brighton and 40 odd from London. The infamous Mr Angry from Tunbridge Wells is only ten miles or so away...

As a barometer of IT recycling efficiency I expected it to be fairly normal. I have enjoyed similar days in Dorking, Horsham and Reigate in the last couple of months, and I reckon I have a feel for the SME market now, but here are some key results from my Friday travails.

  1. I am not joking about people having a pile of IT kit somewhere in their office. 
  2. People really do think deleting files in Windows and emptying their recycle bin is data safe.
  3. I am a natural flirt.
  4. A surprising amount of people read the East Grinstead Courier.
  5. Likewise listen to Meridian 107FM. It is generally agreed that I really have the perfect face for radio and that my voice is ok. I may sing...
  6. It is getting quite cold.
  7. Business owners/senior managers do not think about the kit they are disposing of as waste at all. They remember how much they paid for it. They resent the idea that it might have a life and a value after them, and they rarely consider the risks of not making sure their old hard drives are properly wiped.
  8. There are more coffee shops than there are public toilets.
  9. When you get a chance to explain the reality of life to people, you can get through to them and then you can help them.

By the last point, you will realise that I got some sales. There is a reason for that. Well, there are several really. Firstly and most obviously I am not bad at what I do. Secondly, what eReco do is both needed and fairly, transparently priced, and it is usually just a question of finding someone with a pile of junk behind their desk or in the bottom of the cleaner’s cupboard when I am out and about like this. I have not drawn a blank yet from these days out and I am not planning on doing so anytime soon. Thirdly, there are a lot of people who really wanted this problem solved for them, so I cannot claim that there was any true brilliance on my part (false modesty obviously). I just got in their face, explained myself concisely and professionally and gave them the reassurance and information they were looking for.

eReco are ‘selling’ a service I suppose. Except we aren’t, really, in my mind. There is an episode in Red Dwarf when Lister, Rimmer and the Cat end up on Backwards Earth, a place where you jump out of a box in the ground and get progressively younger until eventually you climb back up your mother’s unmentionables and disappear. We are a bit like that in many ways. We take something a business has no further use for, fire it up, mend it, clean it, remove all traces of the previous owner and try to keep it on the road for a few more miles.

Our customers pay for a bit of transport, a fair amount of sorting and moving it around doing stuff, a few bits of legal paperwork and the cost of removing the data. What we are doing is making sustainability possible. 

That is not a service as such; it is our duty.

That might sound a bit heavy but it’s true. If you cut corners with this stuff you aren’t just breaking the rules and risking fines, you are messing with the future. We sometimes get quite passionate about what we do but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that we don’t ‘sell’ the real purpose of recycling hard enough.

East Grinstead certainly responded to the personal touch but we have to work together to get the message out there on a wider scale. I have said it before and I will say it again, people...both consumers and businesses (of all sizes) need educating about this stuff. The ‘green’ message is not helped by the perceptions of what ‘green’ is. Sustainability maybe a hash tag on Twitter but the average man in the street needs help to really get it.

The same is true about data security. You only have to listen to the news to realise that...the amount of successful phishing going on, lax passwords, malware breaches...even before you get to the issue of disposing of redundant kit.

People are not taking these issues seriously and that is why eReco will be permanently on tour shouting this stuff from the rooftops.

You have been warned...