Adopting a socially responsible approach to green initiatives can help take the pool and spa industry to the next level. By committing to sustainability strategies and embracing newer technologies, pool and spa professionals can pledge to change their attitudes toward waste reduction and develop an energy conservation plan, opening the doors to new revenue opportunities and a positive, “green” public image.
Throughout the supply chain, industry professionals are establishing themselves as good stewards of the green revolution. ‘Greening’ the supply chain requires a partnership between manufacturers, distributors, contractors, retail stores, service professionals, and the consumer. These cross-industry efforts are already underway.
Manufacturers are rushing to develop new energy-efficient products to attract environmentally conscious consumers, who are driven to maximize their return on purchasing swimming pools and spas. Manufacturers are also investing in eco-friendly production and distribution plant upgrades. Many are recycling their material waste; others are retrofitting machinery with variable frequency drive (VFD) systems to cut wasteful energy consumption. In addition, distribution centres are re-routing delivery trucks to reduce gas costs.
The benefits of going green
Consumers want retailers, contractors, and service professionals to talk about the value of industry green initiatives. Pool and spa retail stores who market energy efficiency and carbon footprint reduction attract both the environmentally and cost-conscious consumer. Service professionals can show customers how variable-speed pumps save them operating costs and reduce energy consumption. For these consumers (and the professionals who serve them) green quickly turns to gold.
These conversations require salespeople and other industry members to educate themselves on hydraulics, electrical and lighting technology and energy-efficient heating appliances, such as heat pumps, and solar and geothermal technologies. Consumers want to know where the product comes from, how energy efficient it is, and the breadth of its environmental and health benefits and/or impact.
Making it happen
To be a part of the future, the pool and spa industry must develop a green marketing strategy today. This will require an attitude shift regarding internal operations. Some hurdles must be identified—making the wrong investment is a risk. Simply advertising your business as ‘green’ is not enough. In fact, many consumers are weary of this approach, sometimes referred to as ‘green washing.’ The industry’s goal should be to initiate a strong strategy based on the following four principles.
Going green requires conscious planning and conscientious execution. Each area of the business can be trimmed by a modest amount. Even incremental changes in each line item on the expense sheet will result in increased profit and a stronger bottom line. Engage employees to reveal new ways to reduce costs; by empowering them with short-term goals, you can produce profitable results.
Remember, it costs nothing to change a pattern of behaviours, but the results can pay off significantly. Turning off unnecessary lights, monitoring computer usage, evaluating waste management, changing to a paperless office, examining a better delivery flow and closing loading dock doors are just a few examples of how any business can effectively reduce energy consumption and save money.
An easy way to change employee behaviour is to share the savings data with them. This allows them to see the value of their actions; they know they are making a difference. Educate employees on the hydraulics of variable-speed pumps and train them how to sell energy efficiency to the consumer. Teach them how to demonstrate a break-even point and payback time on newer technology. The more educated employees are about the products they are selling, the more likely they are to make the sale.
Pool and spa professionals who capture new opportunities will have a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Presenting the facts and benefits of green technologies, or highlighting less obvious advantages, can give a business a sales edge. Chlorine generators not only convert salt into chlorine, they also provide a non-toxic environment, while heat pumps can be described as ‘proactive solar energy collectors.’ Look for innovation in all parts of the business; odds are you will find hidden opportunities to ‘green’ your company. Create partnerships with manufacturers and distributors who are embracing the green trend and use their resources to help develop your creative marketing strategy.
In any economy, employees are key to the adoption of a sustainability strategy. A visionary and effective leader can empower employees to embrace green technology as a means of increasing revenue. Engaging employees, whether they are in the retail store or on the job site, will enhance an organization’s green strategy.
Never stop learning
Education is the best way for employees to understand the energy savings green technologies can provide. This education can be achieved economically by using computer-based education options, such as webinars, on-demand seminars and online training courses, which greatly reduce the time and money associated with travelling. If there is room in the budget, encourage employees to attend trade show seminars and product training sessions, which will enhance their understanding of environmental parameters of the products they are selling.
Employees should also be aware of the global, national and local regulations targeting carbon emissions, as this will give them greater credibility with customers. Examining the new swimming pool energy laws and regulations and discussing these with employees helps them become aware of what changes need to be made, and how their customers will be affected. When employees truly understand the products and services they sell will lower environmental costs, they can relay this to their customers and prospects.
It’s all about hard work
It takes a concerted effort to affect any type of positive change, and pursuing a sustainability strategy is no exception. By reducing costs, increasing knowledge, fostering innovation and involving employees, pool and spa professionals will generate excitement about going green, with both customers and staff. With a little dedication, you can establish a new strategy that is not only good for the environment but also great for the bottom line.
Numerous books are available on how to build a competitive advantage using environmental strategies. Suggested titles include Green to Gold by Daniel C. Esty and Andrew Winston (John Wiley & Sons) and Green Recovery by Andrew Winston (Harvard Business Press).
This article was written by Connie Sue Centrella and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].