Small Businesses and Reducing Emissions

Chris's Deli

13. Climate Action

Overview

The innovation Chris’s Deli utilizes is an effort to help reduce the total amount of harmful emissions resulting from trucking and other combustion-engine vehicles that are used every day for deliveries, and fulfills the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate Action.

Authors

Sami Cazimoski

Sami Cazimoski

Tania Jhuma

Tania Jhuma

Nick Patel

Nick Patel

GeYou Su

GeYou Su

School

Rutgers Business School

Rutgers Business School

Professor

Kenneth Welch

Kenneth Welch

Innovation

The innovation consists of the businesses, as well as two other partnering delis, who place orders for a majority of their inventory with the same supplier. This allows the suppliers to deliver all the goods to one geographical location in a single trip instead of having multiple deliveries that are spread out throughout the week, which would generate a significantly larger amount of harmful emissions. The deli’s innovation falls under their business model. As a small business, the owner wanted a way to efficiently receive deliveries as well as maintain a healthy planet. The deli uses economies of scale to reduce costs and receive goods in bulk to reduce the delivery rate from their suppliers.

Small Businesses and Reducing Emissions

Inspiration

The innovation emerged because of rising competition within the food industry from larger franchises such as 7-Eleven, McDonald’s, Burger King, and other prominent chains. In order to stay in business, costs needed to be lowered in order to sustain a consistent level of profitability that allowed the small business to meet its financial demands. During the interview, Kenny, the owner of the two delis—Chubbies Deli and Chris’s Deli—said, “since small businesses lack the financial prowess and marketing capabilities of big corporations, we were forced to find another way to maintain, and potentially increase profitability in order to successfully compete with neighboring fast food chains.” As a result, the idea emerged to combine forces with the other small business and act as one large entity in order to somewhat emulate the business patterns of large organizations. The main person behind the innovation is the owner of the delis, Mr. Kenny Patel. Although the delis are operated separately under different regimes, he was the main proponent of this idea and convinced the other managers to agree to this idea, as it helped the businesses thrive collectively and operate successfully in a manner that undermined powerful fast food chains, which offer food at a faster pace and a discounted price.

During the interview, Kenny said that the toughest part of convincing the other management was making them understand the benefits of collaborating while convincing them that this method would not increase competition among each other, but rather effectively challenge larger corporations that are the biggest threat to the delis. Although the UN Sustainable Development Goals were not the main drivers of this innovation, they did manifest themselves through the utilization of the innovation itself. The innovation at the delis fulfills the UN Sustainable Development Goal 13 of Climate Action. By acting in unison during inventory orders, the delis are able to reduce the amount of harmful emissions from combustion engine vehicles. When asked about funding for the innovation, Mr. Patel claimed that no extra financing was needed to execute the innovation.

Overall impact

Since the main aspect of this innovation is its impact on environmental and climate action (Goal 13), the qualitative impact of this innovation and benefits on society are that harmful emissions from trucks and vans are reduced, which in turn has a positive impact on the climate, albeit very minute. Along with the reduction in harmful emissions, three out of five employees at the deli walk to work and/or carpool, which also has a positive effect on environmental sustainability. Although the latter is a small tenet of environmental benefits, taken as a whole among three delis, this innovation has a larger aggregate impact on the climate. Furthermore, if replicated this sort of tactic can have a profound impact on the environment altogether rather than just a few small businesses. During the visit to the business at which most of the deliveries are made, one of the delivery drivers stated how his life had become much easier since the delis started collaborating on orders. He talked about how he no longer had to visit separate locations to fulfill the same quantity of orders within the week. Furthermore, he also favored this idea because it saved his energy and time between deliveries.

Business benefit

The short-term business benefit is that profits are increased due to lower costs through economies of scale and bulk ordering. The long-term benefit is that the deli is able to remain in business and effectively compete with larger fast food chains. As stated above, the Climate Action goal was an offspring of the initial intention of the innovation to ward off large corporate food entities. Therefore, another other long-term environmental effect is that harmful carbon dioxide emissions are reduced and a more stable climate is the result of this innovation. The benefits to the members involved in this business model are that they will be able to reap the benefits of the results of the execution of this strategy. Since lower costs will boost the business's profitability, the employees will be employed for the foreseeable future with a steady salary. Furthermore, their children will also be granted a healthier environment in which they can live. As Vicky, one of the cooks at the deli, put it, “this innovation allows us to make the world a better place for both ourselves and our future kids.”

The innovation relates to a sense of purpose for Chris’s Deli, as well as the other partner delis. As small businesses, they feel like they have a purpose to engage in environmental and climate-friendly business practices and not having to only rely on large corporations to act against environmental problems. The owner, Kenny Patel, felt that the deli should embody a more socially responsible entity rather than focusing only on monetary values. When we asked Nick, who is an employee at Chris’s Deli, he said that he feels a sense of accomplishment while working at the deli because he is able to make a difference in the environment just by being a part of the delis. Since the delis use recycled napkins and minimize food waste through a make-to-order system, by collaborating with other delis, the employees vicariously appreciate the environmentally friendly efforts of the delis. The innovation does relate to a sense of mission and purpose because it helps the managers and owners of the delis to pave the way for the next generation by making the environment a better place, all the while providing some security to the business against rising competitors. One of the messages that resonated with us during the interview was Kenny’s belief that “one should leave a place in a better condition than when s/he arrived.” This statement has been one of the guiding thoughts behind the innovation along with the necessity to fend off any franchise competitors who take away customers with their lower prices.

Social and environmental benefit

Since the main aspect of this innovation is its impact on environmental and climate action (Goal 13), the qualitative impact of this innovation and benefits on society are that harmful emissions from trucks and vans are reduced, which in turn has a positive impact on the climate, albeit very minute. Along with the reduction in harmful emissions, three out of five employees at the deli walk to work and/or carpool, which also has a positive effect on environmental sustainability. Although the latter is a small tenet of environmental benefits, taken as a whole among three delis, this innovation has a larger aggregate impact on the climate. Furthermore, if replicated this sort of tactic can have a profound impact on the environment altogether rather than just a few small businesses. During the visit to the business at which most of the deliveries are made, one of the delivery drivers stated how his life had become much easier since the delis started collaborating on orders. He talked about how he no longer had to visit separate locations to fulfill the same quantity of orders within the week. Furthermore, he also favored this idea because it saved his energy and time between deliveries.

Interview

Kalpesh Patel, Owner

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Chris's Deli

Chris's Deli

Orange, New Jersey, US

Business Website: https://www.facebook.com/chriss.deli

Year Founded: 2014

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

Chris's Deli is a small business located in Orange, NJ, that offers various prepared hot and cold foods, beverages, and other groceries. They are passionate about serving the public and their sustainability.