Marketing Green

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More and more consumers are making concerted efforts to act in environmentally friendly ways, and carry that mindset throughout daily decision making. And many consumers are more attracted to businesses that share those values, says Dan Cricks, CEO of Cleveland-based shop marketing firm Results Marketing. Cricks discusses the value of green-based marketing initiatives, and how to formulate your messages to make your shop stand out from the rest.

Many shops are engaged in green practices, even if they’re not making a concerted effort to be green. Some examples include proper disposal of tires and hazardous wastes, cleaning and treatment processes for shop towels and technician uniforms soiled with hazardous materials, energy efficient shop equipment (such as lighting, heating, cooling or air compressor systems), use of environmentally friendly materials, and the common practice of recycling.  

These are all fairly basic green strategies, and are considered by some as best practices of running an automotive repair facility. The initial goal, of course, is simply to allow shops to reduce their carbon footprint and business costs. But these basic practices can deliver additional dividends if promoted correctly within your community. It requires time, money and hard work to implement these initiatives, so it just makes sense to market the investment you’ve made. You’re missing the boat if you’re not promoting those ideas.

Focus your green marketing messages on the benefit to the customer. Although it doesn’t hurt to let consumers know how your business has benefitted from implementation of green initiatives, they tend to care most about why it’s good for them. In addition to the green practice itself, make consumers aware of why it was implemented, the improvements it generates, and the long-term reasons for doing it. Being as specific as possible makes the message much more powerful.

Here are a few tactics that can be used for your green marketing messages that will appeal to your potential customer base:

Safety. Explain how your shop’s use of eco-friendly materials reduces health concerns for your customers compared with traditional methods. For example, highlight how the anti-freeze you use is less harmful to pets if they get into a spill, or how the materials your shop uses to clean interior vents is not harmful to occupants.

Repair cost. Shops experience fairly significant costs to properly dispose of hazardous materials. In the past, many shops included an environmental fee on the invoice in order to recoup those costs. But when you reduce your usage of those hazardous waste materials, disposal costs go down and no longer need to be passed on to the customer. Reduced repair costs can be a huge selling point.

Shop improvements. Highlight how a particular green strategy allowed your shop to reduce utility usage and costs. Explain how that improvement and financial savings allows you to avoid raising prices.

It’s not necessary to create an entirely separate marketing campaign for your green initiatives. Instead, integrate those messages into your existing marketing plan, and convey green ideas within all of the avenues you already use to market your business. The messages should also be prominently posted in your waiting room for customers to easily see after entering your facility.

An e-newsletter is another effective source to market green business initiatives, which the most successful shops have done. That’s a great resource that allows you to offer thorough explanations about the green effort along with photos to support the information. That strategy also fits the green theme because e-newsletters are paperless and illustrate use of green-based marketing tactics.

Marketing your green initiatives improves your shop’s professionalism and image. Demonstrating that commitment is an illustration of your attention to detail and dedication to being a quality repairer. People will be attracted to your business—and more likely to keep coming back—if they understand your attempts to operate an environmentally friendly facility. That translates into increased work volume, which results in higher sales and higher profits. Marketing your green efforts is a win-win-win: It’s a win for the community, the consumer, and ultimately your business.

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