In today’s market, getting a competitive edge is all about finding the right combination of factors to attract and retain clientele. One of those factors, rapidly growing in importance, is sustainability. When it comes to the franchise world, it’s crucial for brands to be ready to implement strategies across the company
For both employees and customers, having a positive impact on the world has become a major concern when it comes to the brands that they want to affiliate themselves with. A 2020 report commissioned by Unily revealed that 72% of office workers are concerned with environmental ethics and 65% are more likely to work for a company with a strong environmental policy.
On the consumer side, a 2021 study reported by Business Wire noted that globally, 85% of people indicate that, in the past five years, they have shifted their purchase behavior towards being more sustainable, with younger generations (millennials and younger) leading the way. 60% of consumers rated sustainability as an important criterion for purchase, and 34% are willing to pay up to a 25% price premium to purchase sustainable products.
These numbers are just the beginning. In short, sustainability is big business now, and it’s well on its way to becoming a must-have. For franchises, implementing sustainability now can give the brand the edge over the competition, while also making a true positive impact on the world around us. Implementing sustainable practices at any level can contribute to overall well-being in any number of ways, from reducing pollution to improving public health to preparing for the future and much more.
In practical terms, franchises who commit to sustainability are positioning themselves better to compete in the current marketplace. Companies are more likely to attract and retain customers, as well as employees, when they can point to specific policies and actions that display a real dedication to sustainability.
What could sustainability look like for franchises? There’s no one answer, given that franchises encompass such an enormous array of different businesses. Every franchise must do a thorough self-audit to determine where sustainable practices can be implemented. While the specifics may vary, some ideas that could then be tailored might include:
- Using biodegradable packaging
- Powering operations using solar power or other sustainable power sources
- Partnering with eco-friendly, ethical, and/or sustainable suppliers
- Implementing energy conservation practices
- Training employees on “green” skills geared toward social, economic, and environmental goals
- Reducing waste
Many of these practices aren’t just good for the environment, but good for business, as well! A commitment to sustainability can actually improve the function, productivity, and profit of a business. For instance, reducing waste and streamlining processes are common tools for making a business more sustainable – and they also can help to cut costs and improve profit margins.
As franchises grow and expand, it’s important to commit to a set of sustainability standards and invest in communicating and implementing them across the brand. Individual franchise owners and the larger brands are partners in this. Together, they can build a more sustainable, productive, and profitable business, and that’s a situation where everyone wins.
About the Author
Nancy Estep-Critchett is a founding Partner of Blue Rock Search, with oversight of the Franchise Practice. She has 30 years of successful working experience as a business advisor and executive recruiter in the franchising space. Nancy has built solid relationships which have spanned decades with industry professionals and internationally recognized brands.
Blue Rock Search is a 100% minority/female-owned executive search firm, an SRA Network member, a Hunt Scanlon Top 10 global recruiting firm, and a member of the Hunt Scanlon HR/Diversity Recruiting Power 65. We specialize in the targeted identification, assessment, and placement of executives across four distinct practice areas: Human Resources, Franchise, Higher Education, and Customer Experience.
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