First Mile: Recycling Company Uses CRM to Help Customers Manage Their Rubbish

By Erin Sherbert


First Mile’s secret to success is rather uncomplicated: Treat the customer as you would like the customer to treat the Earth — with distinct appreciation.

Intrigued by this old-school philosophy, Salesforce recently emailed with Luke Perera, marketing and communications executive at First Mile, to talk about how the London-based business got started and how it’s evolved into a low-cost recycling and waste collection company that services more than 10,000 businesses today.

What makes this small business unique? First Mile finds a place for all its customer’s rubbish: If it’s not recyclable, then the trash it picks up is used to generate electricity. What’s more, the company will track and audit its customers’ performance so each knows exactly how they’re helping the environment.

What made you decide to work at First Mile?

After recently graduating and completing an internship at a local government organization, I wanted to be a part of a company with an environmental focus. When I heard about how fast the company was growing, and how it not only improved its customers’ recycling rates, but also saved them money, I became keen to join. Now, I am part of a passionate team that has helped to the company double its size in the last two years.

What are the top three company priorities?

For us, ensuring that our customers are happy is the key to our continued success and future growth. We aim to do this by improving our CRM (Customer Relationship Management)system, amazing customers with fantastic service through exceeding their expectations, and helping them become as environmentally friendly as possible. By doing this, we achieve customers for life who will remain with us and recommend First Mile to others.

People don’t always understand what is recyclable and what is not: What is the oddest thing you’ve seen someone try to recycle?

Recycling is still a fairly new concept to people so it’s key that we make our service as clear and easy to use as possible. For example, we have posters and stickers that can be put up around work so that customers are clear on what can be recycled.

One of our customers put a turkey (feathers and all!) into a recycling bag once. Sadly, we were not able to recycle it.

What are the keys to your company’s successful growth?

Going above and beyond to ensure our customers’ experience with us is a positive one. One way we will look to build on this is by investing in our unique CRM system as well as develop other platforms to help our customers get more from the service.

Why did your company decide to start using Salesforce and what has it done for your business, specifically in terms of creating a more personalized sales experience for customers?

First Mile needed a flexible web-based system which enables us to meet demands of businesses based in the city centre. With a field team logging loads of leads every day, Salesforce lets us process customers for on-boarding immediately, from wherever we are.

It also greatly assists with lead generation. “Chatter” has been a really quick and engaging way to identify businesses that have just opened and are in need of a waste-collection service.

For example, one of our field sales teams took a picture of a newly opened business, which they then uploaded onto to Chatter. From there, a member of our sales team took the lead and contacted the business, which became a customer a few moments later.

Having Chatter has streamlined the lead generation process as well as produced better visibility of our pipeline.

What app do you think every small business executive should use and why?

Chatter — for the reasons as above. It’s also a great way to collaborate with fellow colleagues in terms of identifying the “hotter” leads.

What is the one piece of advice that you want to share with executives of other small businesses?

Experiment with different approaches to help you accomplish your aims. Try a number of methods and identify the one with the best success rate. You can then drop the others and back the best horse.

Don’t follow the norm. First Mile has disrupted the industry with our custom built green IT system that caters to all businesses with different requirements. By doing this, we have changed people’s perceptions of the industry by dismantling traditional business models and have improved them with creative and innovative thinking.

Luke Perera has been at First Mile since 2012 (joined shortly after graduating getting a degree in business with operations management) where he started as a Business Development Executive. In this role, he specializes in setting up smaller offices and retailers where he’s gained an understanding of the type of businesses that require FirstMiles services. He’s also worked closely with the field sales team to generate new work, which was all done through the Salesforce platform.