All across the business world, management is facing growing pressure to reduce their respective companies’ environmental footprints. This all starts with the top executives, whose responsibilities and actions necessarily impact and filter down to other levels of management and employees—all of whom are tasked with creating an organization that is more energy-conscious and produces more energy-efficient products for the consumer.
While much of this is environmentally driven, cost savings can also be a productive outgrowth of this change. As such, many owners and managers at pool and spa companies are looking to implement a green strategy for their businesses. The following steps can serve as a guide to do just that.
1. Take a step back
Developing policies and implementing strategies that are good for the planet and the bottom line requires careful planning, processing of ideas and, most importantly, change, which requires stepping back and looking at the big picture.
First, a company needs to identify what impact it has on the environment. What products are being sold and what is required to bring those products to the end user? Today there is a growing selection of ‘green’ products in the pool and spa industry—from variable-speed pumps and more efficient heating technologies for pools and hot tubs to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting and robotic cleaners—which all help reduce energy consumption. In addition, fears over chemical toxicity have given rise to more environmentally friendly chlorine generation options, such as salt systems.
These are just a few of the ways the industry is changing in order to leave a smaller carbon footprint and meet the growing demand for green products. Consider which of these products you are not yet selling—why not start now?
2. Create objectives
Establishing new performance objectives will help a company measure the value of going green. Before implementing any new strategies, it is important to understand what tools will be used to evaluate a company’s success. A business strategy based on sustainability practices will be successful, providing you create a solid plan.
Implementing sustainability initiatives varies from industry to industry, and the pool and spa sector is no exception. A plan that includes objectives, methods of evaluation and metrics will enable business owners to measure the value and impact certain approaches have on the company’s bottom line as well as its social responsibility.
A successful strategy also requires owners and managers to look at how they can affect a social change within their organizations. Consumers are looking for companies who offer not only a green solution, but are also practicing sustainability in both their internal and external operations.
3. Analyze product life cycles
An important step in developing a green business strategy involves examining the supply chain, also called a life cycle analysis. This methodology allows for the examination of the environmental impacts of a product, all the way from the point raw materials are extracted through the final disposal after the product has finished its useful life. Some also refer to this as a ‘cradle to grave’ look at the product’s lifespan.
In the pool and spa industry, channels to bring product to market are multi-layered, moving from manufacturing to distribution to construction to retail and service, before items finally make their way to the consumer. A responsible organization implementing green strategies must look at each of these channels.
Examine where each product you sell originates, how it is manufactured and what each supplier is doing to effect change to conform to new green regulations and social consciousness. Some organizations conduct an incredibly detailed audit and analysis that takes into account every aspect of the life cycle; other audits take a more simplistic approach. Creating an audit form will allow you to clearly analyze and evaluate this information.
4. Review internal operations
The next step starts with a review of the company’s internal operations. Even small changes can have a positive impact on the environment and bottom line. Look for opportunities that will deliver quick energy-saving results and engage employees to find new and innovative ways to reduce energy costs. Every bit counts—cutting even one per cent of energy costs can make a big impact on a sustainable plan and give you more revenue to operate your business.
Going green can also bring with it added costs. Consider investing in updated office equipment and transforming internal functions to improve energy efficiency. Implementing a greening plan internally requires you to keep track of the amount of gas, electricity, paper and computer power consumed, as well as an analysis of what these resources cost.
5. Engage your employees
Most people do not instantly embrace change; however, employees can be easily engaged by simply being included in the implementation process. Bringing together their ideas and thoughts on how to save energy and reduce waste not only allows for team building, but increases the chances employees will buy into and promote the new green strategy.
In addition to asking them for ways to improve energy performance, owners and managers can also involve staff in the drafting of a company-wide sustainability policy. Employees can also be enlisted to take part in reviewing energy budget items. Involved employees will have the chance to witness the decrease in expenditures and increase in energy efficiencies the company will experience, knowing these savings are due in part to their efforts. This serves as a strong motivator to continue following the plan.
6. Get the word out
Consumers seek to do business with companies that are engaged in green practices, so the way in which green initiatives are communicated to customers is key to a program’s success. First and foremost, any messaging should avoid ‘green washing’ (see sidebar for more on this phenomenon).
Broadcasting a sustainability plan and green strategy creates a win-win for the company. Owners can capitalize by introducing new marketing ideas based on green products and processes, which can be communicated through various channels. For example, once a sustainability plan is created, it can be posted on the company website. Social media is another effective way to engage customers and inform them of the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.
7. Take your time
Implementation of a successful green business strategy does not happen overnight. It takes time, effort and planning. Avoid acting too fast, making too many changes or marketing efforts without a solid plan. Understanding the sciences of hydraulics and electricity, engaging employees in training programs, implementing tools to measure internal and external energy usages and evaluating and offering more sustainable products to the consumer are all pillars of plan execution.
A green revolution
From manufacturers and distributors to retail stores and construction and service professionals, all members of the pool and spa industry can work together to build a robust, energy-efficient, sustainable future. Each link in the chain influences the others. Greening together is a golden opportunity, not only for a sustainable environment but also to ensure the industry has an even brighter future.
This article was written by Connie Sue Centrella, and originally appeared on Pool & Spa Marketing [link].