Sustainability is a hot topic right now, and after a period of pandemic-induced reflection, more people are investing in protecting the environment and safeguarding the future of the planet than ever. But what does it take to build a sustainable business, and from a financial standpoint, why is it worth doing?
If you’re willing to research, learn, improve and act, you can create a sustainable business. And if you can create a sustainable business, you can create a future-proof source of profit for yourself. Many franchise operations already prioritise environmental compliance from the get-go, like commercial cleaning franchise Green Machine, and you could do the same.
What is a sustainable business?
So, what is a sustainable business? What does that actually mean? In short, a sustainable business is a business that attempts, however it can, to minimise its negative impact on the planet, or on society. For sustainable businesses, avoiding environmental degradation and not contributing to systems of inequality are the top priorities.
The push to be more eco-friendly is in full swing across the business world, with almost half of UK companies planning to increase their environment-related spending between now and summer 2021.
—Madeline Bennet, The Daily Telegraph
The importance of sustainable business practices
Here are the five key reasons why, as a franchisor, you should care about making your business more sustainable...
1. You’ll find that these kinds of changes are necessary for long-term success
Making your franchise more sustainable will ensure its long term success. 710,000 people were employed in the franchising sector in 2018 [British Franchise Association], so there’s no doubt that a healthy amount of competition is out there. Customers may be more inclined to work with you if they’re aware that you practice sustainably. In fact, four in 10 surveyed UK consumers keep environmental issues at the front of their mind when making a purchase [GlobalData].
Customers are becoming better informed and more aware of the environmental impact of consumer products. Thus, they are demanding that industries improve the environmental performance of their products.
—Adam Butler, Forbes
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2. Your franchisee retention rates will rise, and recruitment rates across the company will improve
By making sustainability a priority, you’ll likely increase retention and recruitment rates among franchisees and employees. People like to work with a sustainable franchise which has a positive impact on the environment. If you prove that your company is investing in making improvements, it won’t be long before you attract a plethora of good candidates.
It’s all about positioning sustainability as a focus and a commitment, rather than as a duty or a requirement. If you integrate sustainable beliefs and systems at every level of your business, your company ethos will seem welcoming to the widest possible range of people, and your business will continue to thrive as more and more environmentally conscious Millennial and Gen Z candidates enter the workforce.
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3. You’ll be able to streamline, increasing productivity among franchisees and reducing costs
In the development of more sustainable practices, you’ll likely find that you’re able to streamline your operations and increase efficiency on a companywide level. If you can increase efficiency, you’ll reduce costs. And you’ll probably free up time among your employees.
Even small scale energy conservation strategies, like reminding everyone in the company to turn off the lights when they leave the room, can make a difference, and the longer that you keep up streamlined, sustainable practices, the more rewards you’ll see down the line.
4. You’ll be able to capitalise on a growing market
Customer demand for sustainable products and services has grown substantially in the past few years, and there’s plenty of room for franchisors like you to take advantage of this growth and protect the planet while securing financial benefits. 73.5% of people agree that sustainability is important [NatWest], and these people aren’t just your customers. Your investors - the franchisees that keep your operation turning - will make up some of that figure.
As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognizing the need to act on sustainability. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough.
—Knut Haanaes, Institute for Management Development
5. You’ll be producing less pollution, and improving public health
Yes, profit matters, and sustainable improvements can increase your profits. But most of all, sustainable improvements matter because they protect the environment and, ultimately, your customers. Make a difference as a business owner by reducing the carbon footprint of your company, and reducing your pollution output. Air pollution significantly impacts public health [Public Health England], and any reduction that you’re able to achieve is a positive.
Encourage employees to take part in a cycling incentive or carpool. You could also conserve energy wherever you can, recycle and reduce plastic waste and oxidise the air by keeping plants around the office. Make a million small actions and promises, and watch them add up to a huge positive impact. You’ll be looking after the health of your business, and the health of the wider population.
How to make your franchise more sustainable
Franchisors can increase workplace sustainability in a number of ways, including via:
- Reducing, reusing and recycling - Implementing these simple practices and encouraging employees to follow them, too, can have a sizable impact.
- Thinking before you purchase - Ensure that your suppliers are sustainably sourcing products/ingredients for you.
- Operating transparently - Be open with your consumers about your sustainability journey and the steps you’re regularly taking to improve.
- Reviewing your waste and consumption - Be aware of your own footprint, and of how waste can be reduced and/or sustainably disposed of.
Invest in sustainable business practices in order to achieve franchise success
As a franchisor, you probably have many different responsibilities to juggle. At the top of this list, you should find your social responsibilities, such as the need for sustainable business practices. Make environmentally friendly business commitments, and you’ll see two different benefits: The growth of your franchising operation, and the protection of your planet. Take notes from franchise operations currently at the forefront of sustainability, such as PGH Beegone and Green Square.
Lily Sweeney, Point Franchise ©