Going green is becoming increasingly attractive as a business opportunity. But what does going green mean in the residential and commercial landscape service industry, and how can your business benefit?
Green landscape businesses can take many forms—from ones that tout environmentally friendly equipment (65 percent of consumers would choose a landscaper who uses eco-friendly power equipment) to those that use only organic or earth-friendly lawn treatments.
Plus, the barriers to entry are low. There are very few government regulations governing eco-friendly businesses. You can go all in with a green strategy, or start with a green-light approach and phase in more environmentally friendly practices over time.
Here are five ways in which you can green your landscape business, get certified, sell the benefits and win business.
1. Decide How to Go Green
Greening your landscape business starts by deciding what aspects of your operations are going to go green. Here are just a few ideas:
- Source environmentally friendly goods and services—from organic matter to environmentally friendly lawn control products to the use of renewable materials, like bamboo, in your landscaping projects.
- Offer green irrigation options. Instead of touting costly sprinkler systems, encourage customers to consider water-smart or drought-friendly landscape design. Even just converting a sprinkler system to drip irrigation can save water.
- Encourage the use of native, non-invasive plants and trees. Native plants are better adapted to the local conditions, which means they require less effort, expense and pesticide to help them thrive.
- Return organic material to the soil through composting and mulching.
- Shift to hybrid or non-gas-powered vehicles and equipment.
- Move your administrative processes online to reduce paper and energy waste.
- Study every aspect of your operations, and look to see where you can make green decisions and what matters most to your customers.
2. Get a Green Business Certification
Get credibility for your green landscaping business with a third-party sustainability certification and support from an independent body. The Green Business Bureau has an online certification process that is self-paced and designed with bite-size green initiatives that allow you to prioritize your greening efforts, and realize cost savings and a positive return on investment.
Another organization, Green America, evaluates and certifies small businesses against green business standards in over 40 industries, including landscaping.
3. Get Involved in Green Initiatives
Greening your landscape business doesn’t have to be limited to or defined by your on-the-job green business practices. If, after careful consideration, going green isn’t right for your business, find other ways to show your commitment to the environment.
Your business could generate great publicity and have a positive impact by getting involved in sustainability initiatives in your community, such as volunteering to help create green spaces in low-income or park-poor neighborhoods. Proudly share your involvement when marketing your landscape business and when doing social media outreach.
Other actions include joining organized business groups or like-minded businesses to plan and promote ways to reduce the environmental impact of your profession.
4. Overcome Cost Objections
The green opportunity is often perceived by businesses as an added cost, but consumers are willing to pay more for environmentally friendly products and services. Data from research firm GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer found that more than half (56 percent) of consumers say they are willing to pay more to use green products.
The best way to overcome cost objections is to sell the benefits, not the service. What is the “so what?” to the consumer, the community and the environment when choosing your services?
Consumers care about sustainability, but if they are to act accordingly, credible information about the benefits of green choices need to be adopted. Check out the Sustainable Business Toolkit at www.sustainablebusinesstoolkit.com for more tips on marketing your green business.
Another perspective is to remember that green may not sell the deal, but it can close it. If you can do everything that the competition does, but you do it while being green, you may win more business.
5. Don’t Fake It—Be True to Your Green Credentials
Marketing yourself as green means sticking to that commitment. For example, if you tout that you use green or organic products, be sure that the supply chain backs it up. How green is the plastic that your supplies come in? What about the carbon footprint of the manufacturers’ factories?
Use your marketing and signage to be clear about what your green strategy is. It’s better to be honest with your customers, even if you’re not perfect. And don’t overdo the green logos or clichés. Instead, clearly and factually explain your green credentials to customers, and let them know how you’re different. Use data points and sharp messaging to impress them.