In a few weeks, The NEWS is going to be starting a series of articles on contractors who have been ahead of the curve regarding ecologically responsible designs and business practices - the things we have been calling green for many months now.
These contractors really do it right - from recycling paper in the office and driving more efficient vehicles, to gaining green accreditation for themselves and their clients, and even creating green test labs on their own.
Companies like these are so good, they might be intimidating, but they shouldn’t be. Green contracting comes in a variety of shades of green. These guys happen to be the deep-green variety, and they are still rare enough to be considered newsworthy.
That in itself should be comforting to contractors sporting the more normal shades of green - companies installing more efficient equipment, helping customers get systems that will help them receive tax benefits, and maybe doing some in-house recycling. (Remember when recycled scrap metal was called “beer money?” Who knew it would become a virtue, worthy of including in your latest ads.)
For better or worse, it doesn’t take much to be able to sport a little green for your customers. For some, it is simply marketing the things you may already have been doing for years, like recycling scrap metal or office paper.
CUSTOMER INFLUENCEThe contractors we are featuring in this series come from different parts of the country and work in different markets. But they have a few things in common, like customers who are committed to being green, and a desire to meet their customers’ needs.
So, a lot of their green work seems to be pulled up from their customer base. But don’t be fooled, even in those parts of the country where there is a high green interest, there are still customers looking for the lowest price, not necessarily the lowest ecological impact. And they will find that lowest price. But when there are more potential customers looking for the lowest impact everywhere, even in your backyard, it makes sense to ensure that your company is ready to help them, too.
That doesn’t mean you need to be ready to address the needs of customers like those in, say, Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., or Berkeley, Calif. You can be ready to help customers in Detroit looking to renovate an empty office space and qualify for government incentives. Or maybe you are the key resource for the homeowner who wants to get his heating-cooling expenses in line.
At that level it might not seem like much of a push up from the customer level. It might require a little bit of education from you. But it’s certain that customer awareness is much higher than it was, and those customers who are looking to lessen their environmental impact are often educating themselves already. You might only need to let them know that your company is available to fulfill their needs.
In all markets, there now is a greater stratification of customer interest in taking advantage of green technologies. Their reasons can range from the everyday, like taking advantage of economic incentives, to something more noble, like improving the world that will belong to their children someday. But the fact is, they are looking for pretty much the same thing: the opportunity to do something good.
Your company has a choice. You can help these customers achieve their goals, or you can help a different tier of customer achieve their goal of basic survival systems (the heating or cooling they need to stay alive in their climate) at the lowest possible costs. Or you can aim for the customers in between these two extremes. The choice is up to you, and it’s up to you to get your company pointed in the right direction.
Publication date: 04/19/2010