Companies that communicate a social conscience about the way they do business tend to be more profitable than those that do not. We like to patronize businesses that try to do well by doing right. But if you’re a business owner, how do you communicate that to the world?
First, you need to have a sustainability plan. How do you intend to reduce your imprint on the environment? Is it written down? How is it communicated to your employees? Even if it’s not presented in tremendous detail, you need to publish it, perhaps on your website and on placards in your place of business. Be sure you have specific goals, such as reducing water consumption by 25 percent in the first year. Mark your progress, and communicate that as well.
Use only recycled packaging, and make a big deal about it to your customers. Be sure it’s printed on the packaging that it is made of recycled materials as part of your commitment to sustainability. Again, add that to your promotional materials, including your website.
If you have done something to reduce energy consumption in company vehicles, include photos of those energy efficient vehicles on your website. Several companies in our area have clearly marked their hybrid or smaller vehicles with a message about their firm, and the fact that they are using those vehicles says something about their commitment to sustainability.
Communicate your commitment to recycling with bins outside your business and on signage inside. Again, include a measure and communicate it. Include some photos of your employees filling the recycling containers, and offer a plastic bottle and can recycling container to your customers as they enter your place of business.
Choose suppliers and service providers that operate in an environmentally conscious manner. Ask them what they are doing to reduce their imprint. When you work with another vendor who is concerned about sustainability, communicate that in your business as well. Larger corporations are moving aggressively in this direction, requiring that some suppliers incorporate sustainable practices. It’s becoming the norm, so don’t be afraid to ask about it.
If you are in food service or food supply, purchase produce, meat and other goods from local producers to the extent you can, and be sure your customers know about your efforts with signage and on your menus. Your customers will appreciate your keeping your consumption in the local market, which builds pride in the region and reduces costs as well.
Smaller steps are doable, affordable and easily communicated to your various publics. But sustainability is not just a good PR move; it makes business sense. Make a sincere commitment, and your customers, employees and communities will thank you.