Every business owner should be thinking about how they can make more responsible choices when it comes to running day-to-day operations and growing their company. Going ‘paperless’ and turning off the lights overnight are little switches we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint, but how can franchisors make even more of an impact? Read on for our best franchisor tips for building a sustainable business.
Research shows many consumers prefer to hand their money over to organisations championing sustainability. In fact, 53 percent of people would like to shop with ‘environmentally aware’ companies (EnvironmentalLeader). The corporate world is recognising this demand; 64 percent of small and medium-sized business owners are looking to become more sustainable (Lloyds Bank).
There are five key ways you can minimise your carbon footprint:
- Reducing your energy consumption
- Reducing your packaging and waste
- Reducing your pollution
- Using renewable energy
- Supporting environmental causes
But how exactly can franchisors and other business owners really make a dent in their environmental impact? Here’s how you can focus on creating a sustainable business while running a franchise.
How franchisors can create an environmentally aware business
1. Find or build a ‘sustainable property’
These days, you don’t have to look very hard to find high-quality building materials that don’t harm the environment. With everything from energy-efficient insulation solutions to solar and geothermal systems, you can reduce your energy usage by up to 90 percent compared to standard construction practices.
If you’re building a business premises yourself, research the various incentive schemes on offer. You may be able to save a significant amount of money on insulation, solar panels and other eco-friendly appliances.
When it comes to going green, there are options such as government grants and asset finance solutions that help spread the cost of an investment over its lifetime, and initiatives like our Clean Growth Finance Initiative, which offers discounted lending for green purposes. – Keith Softly, Head of Asset Finance at Lloyds Bank
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2. Use renewable energy suppliers
It doesn’t take long to review your utility providers and switch to ones offering ‘clean’ energy. Often, this will save you money, so it’s a win-win situation.
3. End contracts with suppliers using unsustainable products or practices
You should be concentrating on eliminating environmentally harmful products and services from your supply chain. Steer clear of toxic or ozone-depleting items, non-recyclable packaging and, of course, single-use plastics. Also, using products like palm oil can have a devastating impact on the natural world, as well as your reputation among consumers, so consider making a swap.
4. Source products locally
Aim to keep your supply chain in the country your products or services will be sold. Even better, buy from local businesses to further reduce your carbon footprint.
5. Encourage green transportation
From delivery vans to company cars, consider introducing hybrid or fully electric vehicles into your fleet. Studies show 43 percent of Brits would turn to a rival retailer if they provided eco-friendly delivery options (YouGov & Doddle).
While convenience remains important for customers, it’s not enough for sustainable delivery to be an add-on or afterthought anymore – in an already tough environment, it will set brands apart in their battle for customer loyalty.” – Tim Robinson, Doddle CEO
6. Provide reusable uniforms, equipment and kitchen items
Upgrade your single-use plastic aprons, bin bags and coffee cups to sustainable options. A quick wash will restore most items to their original sparkling condition, so you may be able to conserve time and money by putting in a little extra effort. Not only will this help save the planet, but it’ll also give your business a more professional look.
7. Recycle old technology
Chucking the odd computer into landfill may not feel like the biggest of crimes, but tech waste can build up over time – especially if you run a large business. Often, the items we no longer want can be repaired, restored or recycled, so look into local trade-in schemes and charity donation programmes. Brands like Dell and HP, stores like BestBuy and Staples, and eBay for Charity all take used technology equipment, so there’s no excuse for visiting the tip!
To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations. – EPA
8. Invest in sustainability
You can go one better than making sure you act in an environmentally conscious way; why not donate your spare cash to organisations promoting sustainability? You could choose to support companies developing green energy solutions, local clean-up efforts or even food banks. Alternatively, you might opt to put your money towards ‘eco events’ to help spread the word.
9. Partner with the experts
By forming an alliance with organisations carrying out vital research into responsible practices and sustainable business initiatives, you can make sure you’re right at the forefront of innovation. You’ll be able to access the very best industry insight and have a head start on other companies working to reduce their environmental impact.
10. Be transparent
Authenticity is one of the most important attributes an organisation can have. Customers want to know exactly how you’re working towards becoming a sustainable business, and be able to trust you. According to professional services company Accenture, two thirds of consumers make purchases based on a business’s transparency. You can back up your claims gaining certifications such as the Fairtrade Mark.
In addition to the ethical reasons for ‘going green’, there is a tremendous incentive for companies across the globe to focus efforts on environmental responsibility to attract customers, recruit and retain strong talent, and positively affect their external brand perception. – Fredrik Halvorsen, Tandberg CEO
Franchisor tips for creating a sustainable business
If you haven’t yet launched your business, or are still in the process of fine-tuning the direction you’ll take, you might like to consider working in sustainability. It’s set to boom in the coming years, as consumers and businesses alike turn to eco-friendly products and services. And there’s a huge range of sub-sectors you could focus on, including:
- Developing solutions for sustainability issues, such as floods, droughts and hurricanes
- Creating eco-friendly products
- Developing sustainable construction materials
- Selling organic produce from locally grown, free range or Fairtrade ingredients
- Championing vegetarian and vegan products and services
- Building a beauty salon using all-natural products and eco-friendly practices
- Repairing and refurbishing any items
- Cleaning with eco-friendly, non-toxic chemicals
- Offering ink cartridge refills
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Find out more
The ten franchisor tips listed above should help you carry out a ‘sustainability audit’ of your business and make sure it’s minimising its carbon footprint wherever possible. But remember – new technologies are emerging all the time, so make sure you’re up to date with the latest practices and adapting your business to take advantage of them.
For even more ideas about how to limit your impact on a day-to-day basis, see our 25 Sustainability Tips to Create a More Environmentally Friendly Business. These are relatively quick fixes you can do to make a difference in a matter of hours or days.
Or, to browse other topics, take a look at our selection of articles for franchisors.
Alice Tuffery, Point Franchise ©