In a crowded field of competitors, values matter. And while your company’s track record of quality work and great customer service will certainly get you far, whether or not your company is socially responsible is becoming more important as a decision calculus for consumers.
Skeptical? Look at the research. In a 2015 study about consumers’ perceptions of corporate social responsibility, 72% believed that their purchasing choices could have a significant impact on social and environmental issues. Consumers are are looking for the businesses they work with to be partners in championing the issues that are important to them. They’re even willing to make personal sacrifices, such as spending more money or working with an unknown company, as long as their shared commitment to social issues is strong.
In the construction industry, we at Modernize see this trend is becoming more and more clear. Despite the recession in 2008, LEED certified building has steadily increased for 16 years. Millennials, now the largest generation in the U.S., list energy efficiency and environmental sustainability as top features that they are looking for in residential and commercial construction.
Don’t be left behindwhen it comes to establishing your company’s commitment to the environment. While it may seem daunting or expensive, there are many simple things that you can do to rebrand your company as eco-friendly. Just remember that the change has to be authentic, and it needs to start from the inside out. You can’t make your logo green and add a leaf, while all of your employees drink from styrofoam coffee cups on the the jobsite. Read on for advice on how to begin making this shift (or bolster your current efforts) in your construction company.
First, Look Internally. Commit to Reducing Your Company’s Carbon Footprint.
When you first start the process of rebranding and committing to becoming eco-friendly, you may think you need to have all of your employees driving a Prius and solar panels powering your office. Those are great goals to strive for, but thankfully, you can start with much smaller steps. Make sure your company has a recycling program for paper that is generated in the office or cans and plastic that accumulate from employee lunches. This is an easy and low-cost action with two important benefits. First, it creates a culture of conservation that runs through your entire company. Second, it shows customers that your commitment is legitimate.
An unexpected benefit of committing to being a more eco-friendly business is that it can boost the morale of your employees. Whether you institute a teleworking policy for office employees or appoint “Green Champions” to lead the charge in making your company’s practices more environmentally sustainable, studies show that working for a company with eco-friendly practices results in happier, more productive employees.
Another operations-based commitment that your company can make is to work with local suppliers. The environmental cost of transporting construction supplies from far away is significant, but often, locally based suppliers can offer you better prices. Switching to local, more expensive providers can be a tough pill to swallow, but you can get a huge return on your investment. For instance, local (and typically smaller) suppliers, are likely to be much more reactive, capable of providing you with a level of customer service that can keep your projects on-time. This is a long-term investment, since it’ll save you money on labor costs and result in happier clients. Additionally, you can tout this practice as environmentally-friendly and as a commitment to your local economy—a practice that many consumers are happy to get behind.
Mindful Marketing: Ensure Your External Presence Demonstrates Your Commitment
Examining your marketing with an eco-friendly lens is an important step in furthering your authentic commitment to environmental sustainability as a business, but it’s also pivotal to how consumers perceive your brand. If you’re sending promotions out via direct mail, you may be contributing to your prospective customer’s recycling bin (a.k.a junk mail), and that’s it. Save money and get savvy by upgrading your website and leveraging the power of social media to spread your message. If you must send you customers printed materials, make sure that they’re on recycled paper.
In addition to making your marketing more physically eco-friendly, think about adding a component of environmental sustainability to all of your communications—especially promotions. For instance, how many new customers do you think you could garner if you offered a special discounted price for customers who opted for green materials for their construction project? Or what would it take for you to sponsor an eco-friendly event or charity? For whatever amount of money it takes to get your company’s name on a t-shirt or an event program, you’re raising your visibility among potential customers who are donating their time and money to support a cause that is important to them. You are demonstrating that you are a true partner in addressing an issue that is important to them.
Finally, Establish Your Company As an Eco-Friendly Leader in the Industry
While the construction industry may be a crowded field, awareness of those who identify and operate as a green business is small. When you implement environmentally conscious practices into your business, you have the unique opportunity (for now) to stand out as a leader in your field—so act fast! Talk about the eco-friendly practices you are adopting at trade shows, your local Chamber of Commerce or Kiwanis and Rotary meetings—they are always looking for speakers. Find or establish a network of green providers and your business will start to become known as the eco-friendly leader in your segment of the market. Consumers who buy rain collection barrels or compost bins will learn about and be referred to your business from their other eco-friendly providers because you have formed a trusted network of businesses committed to the environment. The impact on your company’s profits, employee morale, brand, and community standing are absolutely worth the effort.