Green is about saving money – and your business

Earlier this year, Safeway “went green” with their entire fleet of trucks.

Way back in January, this seemed like a good idea with a decent ROI (return on investment).

The Rack
photo credit: mattieb

Given the increase in fuel prices in the last 2 weeks – I suspect they are thrilled with the decision now, a mere 60 days or so later.

Over a decade ago, when 3M implemented some green projects – for what they would admit was experimental or even political reasons – they were surprised to find that the waste eliminated from their manufacturing processes actually resulted in a net cost savings. I mean, it does make sense.

Think back to your grandparents. They “made do”. They were recycling before there was a word for it, because they had to.

With the change in fuel prices and no end in sight for those changes, think a bit about how your business may change and how (as I spoke of earlier this week) your customers’ behavior may change.

You can see hints of it in the quarterly results coming out of some businesses. You can probably see other hints in your own behavior. For example, Amazon just announced – in the middle of what the media says is a recession – earnings that are up 30 percent.

Not all of that is people shopping online instead of driving to their local bookstore, but you know the thought process is there.

Yesterday, I was meeting with a client who has 1000 local customers (a lot for our rural area). He wanted to work on getting more business from the 80% who buy infrequently. His business delivers “stuff” to his clients and drives right past the businesses of occasional purchasers of his goods.

Imagine the results his outside sales force will have when they combine the occasional purchaser address list with the regular delivery route in some mapping software, and have it light up the businesses that don’t even require an extra 1/4 mile of driving by the delivery crew. That gives the outside sales force a finite list of people to talk to – where they can offer free delivery AND save them time since they won’t have to go out to another business to buy consumer-grade products at the same or higher price.

That is the kind of “green thinking” that will not only improve your bottom line, but protect you from the impact of next year’s fuel prices and altered customer behavior.

So…how can you “green up” your business?