A Satisfying Solution for Waste Management
There’s no doubt that waste management across a large enterprise can be a challenging task, even for the most efficient companies. Two years ago, Jack in the Box, a $2.9 billion operator of quick-service and fast-casual restaurants, began searching for a solution to more accurately manage the waste of its 1,436 corporate stores. With so many stores across the United States using 1,372 different waste accounts, it was cumbersome for Jack in the Box to audit the bills and still allow for quick payment to the vendors to avoid late fees.
At that time, like many organizations, Jack in the Box’s accounts payable department was internally maintaining all waste contracts and processing the bills. Because it was a centralized department for the enterprise, it was difficult to understand and confirm the services each store was receiving, if the money was being spent on needed services and with which vendors they should be using. For example, Jack in the Box did not know who the haulers were for approximately 550 store locations. But what they did know was that the amount it was spending on trash each month was very large, and quickly rising.
To correct the situation, Jack in the Box looked to overhaul the entire process as well as identify a comprehensive solution for individually evaluating bills for mistakes and properly managing and paying them. Ultimately, Jack in the Box wanted a systematic process to collect the appropriate data needed to manage, budget and right-size their waste services for their restaurant locations.
RIGHT-SIZING WASTE SERVICES
“Right-sizing your trash program can be a difficult task if you lack the necessary tools to analyze your data,” said Rebecca Aoun, Energy Project Manager for Jack in the Box. “Since we have over a thousand restaurants to manage, it complicated the matter to an unfathomable degree.”
Jack in the Box created several objectives for streamlining its waste management process:
- Obtain necessary data to make good corporate decisions
- Provide identification and resolution of billing errors
- Decrease late fees, resulting in corporate savings
- Operate an environmentally responsible waste removal program
To achieve these goals, Jack in the Box ultimately turned to Ecova, a Spokane-based company that specializes in billing error identification and data management. The two companies had already been working together to reduce the fast food retailer’s energy and utility costs, so the decision to incorporate Ecova’s waste management service into the overall cost management portfolio was a natural extension.
“We could not afford to deal with anyone that was not experienced or professional,” Aoun said.
Having an established relationship with Ecova made us confident that we could get our trash under control, just like we had successfully accomplished with our electricity, gas and water.”
Jack in the Box executives had already seen first hand how the organization’s energy and utilities programs had been managed, resulting in better budgeting and the ability to forecast expenses, understand usage and identify problems. The collaboration had become so refined over the years as to identify small, undetected water leaks and to develop conservation projects based on usage/cost data. Given their past experience and savings, Jack in the Box executives considered Ecova’s waste management services to be an investment rather than an additional expense.
After the decision was made to push forward, Ecova began receiving Jack in the Box’s waste bills, gathering detailed line items off of them, and inspecting the bills for erroneous charges. The data is then entered into the Ecova system, allowing Jack in the Box personnel to pull reports that provide a detailed view of all waste expenses, and Ecova to process the invoices.
One immediate benefit realized by Jack in the Box, is operating with virtually zero service interruptions and late fees in its trash removal. This has generated a significant cost savings for the company.
What’s more, it didn’t take long for management to have other expectations realized. For example, one of Jack in the Box’s first service changes resulted in a $560 per month savings at one location. This location utilized a 12 yard recycle bin, at a monthly cost of $600, instead of the traditional three yard bin that costs significantly less. The industrial style bin was immediately removed and replaced.
Similarly, Jack in the Box stores now plan for their bins to be at maximum capacity whenever garbage trucks visit their locations. They understand that if garbage trucks visit their stores more often than is needed, not only does it cost the company extra money, but it also causes additional strain on the environment by generating unnecessary green house gas emissions.
Aoun estimates that similar changes to their trash removal services throughout the country have saved more than $400,000 to date, and she expects to save even more as she continues to evaluate all of the stores.
Meanwhile, Jack in the Box is constantly tracking information, comparing similar-sized stores and making the necessary changes to streamline its waste management program. With all of the information in one location, Aoun says the company can now compare services, understand what is reasonable and make sure that each site has the right service at the right price.
As a result, Jack in the Box is currently implementing an internal auditing program to review each site.
“Through our partnership with Ecova, our company now has the ability to budget, accrue and forecast our expenses to best meet the needs of our business and investors,” said Aoun.
“We have saved thousands of dollars, while simultaneously running our operations more efficiently. Having these answers at our fingertips allows us to raise our productivity and cut out all of the waste in waste management.”
Ultimately, the composite data and analysis allows Aoun and the rest of her department to maximize their potential for the company. “Our department here has now become a central resource of information for many other groups across our organization,” she said. “For example, when senior management wants to put in new equipment, build a new location or sell an existing location to a franchisee, they turn to us for information about the waste, energy and utilities impact. Our analysis plays an important role in making the right decision and getting the job done.”
Jack in the Box is getting the job done. They’re reaching above and beyond their goals with a waste removal program that not only saves them money, but also minimizes their impact on the environment. Waste management has never looked so good.