We’re happy to use the B word

I am not sure how it has come to pass but for some reason the word ‘broker’ has become tarnished to a point where for many in the industry it has now become a dirty word. It makes me smile to see other brokerages doing everything possible to avoid using the B word.

You can wrap it up anyway you like, these consultants, advisors or service managers are brokers whether they are comfortable with the label or not. I believe that often this attempt to hide behind another tag is simply a sticking plaster for those businesses that are not in reality doing anything to add value to the service they offer.

Whilst I cannot identify a specific reason for the stigma associated with being a broker I do realise that perhaps the actions of a few have impacted on the reputation of others. Historically many brokerages were faceless businesses solely focused on ‘screwing down’ service providers on cost and disregarding the resultant impact on service or performance. The result is a situation that benefits no one. If the service provider is unable to make a reasonable profit for their work they are unlikely to be committed to excellence. The waste producer in return often suffers from a poor level of service, which almost certainly fails to optimise the value of their waste as secondary resource.

At UKWSL we are proud to call ourselves a broker because we understand that when this service is provided in the right way it benefits everyone involved. Of course the provision of a cost effective and high quality service is important and we are committed to ensuing that for all our customers. But we also realise that this is not our customers’ only requirement and quite frankly it would be pretty limiting in terms of differentiating and growing our business if it was.

What makes us really proud, as a brokerage, is our ability to optimise and add value to the services received by our clients. Not owning and bins, trucks or facilities provides us with the flexibility to source the highest quality and best-fit service provider for each individual client. We are also very conscious that a lot of innovation happens in the smaller regional businesses (they have to innovate to survive) and we are focused on bringing the best of this to our clients. This potentially enables them to reuse or recycle more of the material they produce and often improves on the services provided by a national contractor whose ability to provide services vary greatly depending upon their local infrastructure.

The opportunities to add value is not limited to service provision or processing technology however. Data, information and education have become increasingly important requirement for our customers when looking for opportunities to improve the way they manage, develop and report on their investment in waste and recycling services.

I truly believe that when things are done right, there is a mutually supportive relationship between the waste management companies providing services and the brokerage that employs them. The reality is that many smaller service providers would never appear on the radar of those businesses seeking to procure national waste contracts if it were not for subcontracted work. And likewise our ability to utilise these businesses enables us to bring innovation to the client and for them in turn to receive a cost effective and sustainable service, which is both bespoke and optimised to the material types and volumes they produce.

For those who continue to have concerns around the commercial viability of working with brokers I see it as no different to any number other sectors that utilise multiple sales channels often incorporating third parties or agents in addition to their own direct sales.

Ultimately I think that the sceptical and cynical view of brokers is more of an issue within the industry than amongst waste producers. The ability of businesses like UKWSL to work with such high profile and highly regarded brands such as TUI, Network Rail or Cancer Research demonstrates that the client’s focus if more on finding the right partner to deliver a innovative, effective and cost effective service.

I do believe however that this stigma is limiting us as an industry. But by ensuring that we continue to do business in the right way and by remaining focused on the need to add value and not just cut cost, I am confident that we will find a way to remove it. I am equally confident that this will, in turn, help us unlock further commercial success and improve the quality of service we provide as a sector.