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Defining environmental KPIs in the car repair business according to ISO 14001

It is commonly thought that the worse the economy performs, the better for the car repair business. The business of repairing cars is a huge one, all the way from huge dealerships servicing and repairing new and used cars down to your local one-man repair service. As with any business of this magnitude, there is a significant environmental impact from this type of business and its activities, and this is increasingly becoming an important factor – especially when larger operators consider awarding contracts to smaller operators who may be required to demonstrate a commitment to the protection of the environment. This was a situation a friend of mine found himself in when a potential partner asked if his car repair business was ISO 14001 certified, and if the business had a program to mitigate risk caused by environmental aspects. ISO 14001 certification seemed a long way off at that point, but before that was even a possibility, some environmental KPIs needed to be identified. So, how was this achieved and why was this decided?

Identifying KPIs: The first step to better performance

After examining the ISO 14001:2015 standard with the management of the car repair center, it was understood that the first step towards a potential ISO 14001 certification was to identify any environmental aspects that affected the business’s performance, and then to measure, analyze and define a program to remove or improve them. In other words, KPIs (key performance indicators) had to be established to validate the process by which we had planned to improve the organization’s environmental performance. Along with establishing an EMS (Environmental Management System) and a formal Environmental Policy, this could prove to be the foundation for any future ambitions to be certified against ISO 14001. These fundamentals could also be the first step in proving to any potential partners that the car repair business was serious about its environmental responsibilities, and willing to make that next step if required. So, given that we now understood we needed to define KPIs, what were they?

Defining KPIs for a car repair business

As with any other business it was easy to identify that managing the business’s supply chain could have a hugely positive effect. In the previous article Driving your supply chain to compliance we examined the importance of this within the organization; therefore, this was a consideration when we came to identifying our KPIs:

  • Supply chain management: As stated above, improvement of performance against this KPI can have a great effect. A scoring matrix was established whereby environmental considerations (existence of 14001 certification, recyclability of product, lifecycle considerations, packaging considerations, etc.) were attached as stated criteria to all suppliers. Therefore, price and delivery time were joined by environmental criteria as considerations where purchases would be made from, and this information logged and justifications stated where deviation from this process took place.
  • Recycling of waste: This is a huge issue in the car repair business. From used engine oil to used car parts and tires, it is absolutely critical that your business understands how best to recycle all these components. This may take a lot of work with your suppliers, local authorities, and agencies to establish best practices, but establishing a target KPI of percentage of “waste” recycled should allow your car repair business to strive to improve this all-important measure.
  • Carbon issues: Another critical element for a car repair business. Obviously, it is not possible to diagnose or repair certain problems without activating a car engine, but unnecessary running or “idling” of car engines can have a hugely negative effect on the environment. Therefore, a log was created and “engine minutes” within the workshop itself were logged. Without compromising customer performance, this KPI was targeted for reduction on a month-over-month basis, thereby reducing the business’s impact on the environment.
  • Packaging recycling: This was an obvious, but completely overlooked element. Almost all deliveries of car parts had some sort of packaging, which initially was discarded and rarely recycled. Educating the workforce, establishing a recycling bin from the local authority, and measuring the amount of packaging waste recycled per month became another excellent indicator of how the business performed against this measure, especially as the previous performance had been zero.

Improving performance post-KPI identification

Clearly, the first step towards measuring and improving environmental performance was matching environmental aspects to measurable KPIs, and then establishing methods to improve that performance. As ever, educating and informing the workforce during this process was also critical to establishing a culture to improve performance, as you can read in the article ISO 14001 Competence, Training & Awareness: Why are they important for your EMS? Next, the implementation of the basic “Plan, Do, Check, Act” cycle phase of the standard ensured that improvement took place, but what was clear was that the ability to establish, measure, and mitigate impacts meant that KPIs were at the very core. Maybe it’s time to consider this for your car repair business?

Why not use our free  Gap Analysis Tool to measure your business against the 14001 Standard?

Advisera John Nolan
John Nolan
John Nolan is a Fellow of the Institute of Leaders and Managers in the United Kingdom, and Prince 2 accredited with a background in Engineering and Electronics and Data Storage and Transfer. Having studied and qualified as both a Mechanical and Electronic Engineer, he has spent the last 15 years designing and delivering Quality Systems and projects across many sectors in the UK, including both national and local government.