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Friday, August 29, 2014

Green Initiatives: The #1 Way to Improve Your Bottom Line

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"Even when business is good, most enterprises are on a constant quest to improve profits and strengthen the bottom line. After all, you cannot grow a business without increasing your income.
While innovation, excellent customer service and cost-cutting measures can all contribute to a healthy balance sheet, there are other, easier ways that companies can increase their profits. In fact, some of them are so simple and straightforward that it’s a wonder that every business hasn’t already done them.
Case in point? Green initiatives — that is, telling your customers how you’re minimizing your impact on the environment and making positive changes toward “going green.” It’s a simple change, but one that can have incredible impact on your business’s success.
Customers Buy Green
When you think of the typical environmentally conscious consumer, you probably think of a minimalist or someone who consumes as little as possible.Perhaps you think of the stereotypical “granola” or “crunchy” shopper, someone who buys exclusively organic, local or independently, sustainably produced products and maintains an overall “natural” lifestyle.
Those shoppers are certainly a segment of the market, but research shows that the average “green” shopper doesn’t fit the “granola” stereotype. In fact, most people who prefer green products tend to shop more often, buy more items and spend more than any other segment. Green shoppers tend to be more loyal, as well, repeatedly buying products and services that align with their values even if less expensive or convenient options are available.
Not only do those people who buy green products spend more, they also form a large, and growing, segment of the buying population. According to research firm Ipsos, almost half of all adults are more inclined to purchase a product or service if it is environmentally friendly — and about 40 percent of adults are willing to pay more for products that are environmentally friendly. And it’s not just the products that a company offers that can make a difference: That same Ipsos study indicated that about half of adults are more likely to make purchases from companies that support environmental causes or charities.
So what does this all mean for your business? In short, you need to communicate your environmental initiatives to your customers — no matter how small they may be.
It’s Easy Being Green
Instituting green initiatives in your business doesn’t require making wholesale shifts to your business model. Just a few small changes can reduce your footprint and give your customers greater confidence that they are purchasing from environmentally conscious companies. For example:
  • Reduce your power usage. Encourage employees to turn off their computers at the end of the day. Turn the thermostat up or down a few degrees; even in the server room, which needs to be kept cool, a few degrees difference can save a great deal of energy and money.
  • Speaking of servers, invest in refurbished equipment instead of buying new. A Dell PowerEdge R2950 refurbished server, for example, can cost almost 50 percent less than a new model, while also saving the hundreds of pounds of raw materials and energy used to manufacture new servers.
  • Institute an office recycling program. Reduce paper usage by encouraging email communication and limiting how often employees print.
  • Reduce travel costs and environmental impact by using technology.
  • Invest in green building materials and follow green building standards when constructing new facilities.
Shout It From the Rooftops
While you might be tempted to go about your business of going green quietly and without fanfare, it’s important to let your customers know about your commitment to the environment. Remember, buyers prefer to support those companies that share their values, so it’s important to tell them what you’re doing and how you’re meeting their expectations. It could be as simple as a page on your website outlining your initiatives or a sticker on a product package — or as elaborate as a full-scale PR campaign announcing your initiatives.
Sharing your green initiatives with your customers (and potential customers) does more than spur them to spend more money with you.  Taking even small steps toward environmental sustainability shows that you care, and that you want to use your resources responsibly. It also shows your customers that you’re remaining current with prevailing trends and evolving. Companies that stagnate and try to maintain the same business model with little deviation often fail to grow — and usually lose business to more innovative companies.
Above all, going green is the right thing to do. Because even small changes can make a big difference, there’s no reason for a company not to care about the environment and tell the world how much they care."

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