It’s always been advantageous to move what your company sells and does from a commodity — the same thing everyone is selling — to a niche — something that is unique to you. Owning a niche you can market to existing customers and prospective customers is one of the key ways to achieve a more profitable business. You have greater pricing power vs. trying to underbid the other contractors who typically don’t know their cost of doing business or choose to disregard the need to be charging what they should.

Being green and selling green is one of the niches I teach my consulting clients to either get into or expand their existing efforts. The goal is to go green themselves, educate others how to be green and sell green products and services.

I believe it’s our moral obligation to take better care of this planet, but beyond this higher calling is the fact it resonates with so many people as the right thing to do — whether we’re talking about your customers or your own staff.

One of the many steps in this process is to build your own Green Team so that the mantra of “Go Green. Educate Green. Sell Green.” becomes a reality and a rallying cry, rather than an afterthought.

When putting your Green Team together, here are just some of the good criteria to use from the book called, “101 Ways to Turn Your Business Green,” by Rich Mintzer, along with some additional tips I share with my clients:

  1. Get support and guidance through the Green Team by researching and reporting on various means of improving sustainability within the company.
  2. Get members to share their expertise about how their area of the company works today and how it can be greener tomorrow.
  3. Consider a company-wide survey to see what ideas employees have about how to “go green” and who wants to volunteer to be on the Green Team.
  4. Consider company-wide incentives for participation. This isonly if enthusiasm is waning! People who are participating need to know this is what the company is all about.
  5. Schedule a planning meeting to discuss a list of some common goals, and management involvement and support. Share with everyone that suggestions by the Green Team can be acted upon, but only within budget and time constraints.

At the initial meeting, you should:

  • Announce who the team leader is.
  • Appoint a secretary.
  • Discuss overall goals, such as creating a sustainability plan.
  • Discuss finances.
  • Discuss and list some general areas in which the company could become more sustainable — such as reducing waste, conserving energy and water, moving toward sustainable purchasing practices and using alternative means of transportation.
  • Discuss the responsibilities of team members to research and report their findings.
  • Divide the responsibilities so team members know which areas they will cover.
  • Determine some rough deadlines for reporting on possible solutions to be put in Outlook tasks.
  • Develop a meeting schedule and determine a regular meeting place.
  • Determine the best means of communication between members, which will typically be email.
  • Discuss any training that might be of benefit to the team such as webinars, seminars or books everyone should read.
  • Determine when the team or team leader will discuss the proposed changes with management so they can be prioritized, budgeted for and brought to fruition.

Here’s a suggested way to kick off energizing your Green Team to better serve your customers and the community you serve:

“Our company and our employees are dedicated to leading the way in demonstrating good green citizenship by becoming known as the place to go for all things green. Hence, we’re seeking to be known as the Green Learning Center.

“Our customers and our community need to know that whether it’s about energy saving, improvement in comfort and indoor air quality or health in general with sustainable methods that are better for us and our planet, we’re their resource.

“To us, that means we are passionate about being green ourselves and then sharing with others how they can go green by taking small but effective steps to be greener citizens. As appropriate, we can help provide the products and services to help make them greener still.”


The green switch

The way I teach clients to become greener in their business is by first demonstrating how to be green in their own facilities, as well as in the products and services they provide to customers.

Here are some items I recommend for your own building:

  1. Install motion detectors on lighting so areas that aren’t occupied all the time are only powered up and lit up when necessary.
  2. Replace existing power strips with ones that end the “vampire” drain, which means they suck power even when not in use.
  3. Upgrade your own heating and cooling systems to minimize your energy use, including your water heater.
  4. Install low-flow faucets and high-efficiency toilets/urinals.
  5. Replace paper towel dispensers with high-efficiency hand dryers.
  6. Add insulation and tighten up the building envelope while making sure there is an energy-efficient fresh-air exchange system.
  7. Set up an active recycling program for plastics, paper goods, aluminum, glass and scrap metal in the shop.
  8. Stock your warehouse and trucks properly so technicians are not making unnecessary trips to the supply house, which wastes gas.

For your customers, I recommend you:

  1. Do a proper annual tune-up to maximize efficiency.
  2. Recommend upgrading or replacing inefficient heating and cooling systems.
  3. Recommend solar wherever it is practical.
  4. Sell zoning options for heating and cooling systems so you only heat or cool the areas that need it when they need it.
  5. Recommend radiant heat systems — floor, wall and/or ceiling — which are extremely efficient and comfortable.

Do this and the planet will be a better place and everyone will benefit. You’re also likely to put some more green in your own pocket, too!