How Auto Shops Can Benefit from Going Green
Ability to save through going green, while also saving the Earth, applies to automotive sales and service shops as much as any other business.The inevitable truth is that sustainability is the wave of the present, as well as the future. Customers are demanding green, corporate sponsors are demanding green, government regulations are demanding green and the Earth itself is demanding that humans change their consumptive, wasteful behavior. The good news is that research – and experience – is showing that going green through sustainable business practices is not only the right thing to do morally, but it is also the best business choice for longevity through profits, savings and customer satisfaction.
The Environmental Need to Go Green Take one look at all the hybrid cars on any automotive sales lot and it is obvious that the auto industry can no longer turn a blind eye to consumer demand for eco-friendly transportation. And it will not be long before they demand green actions from their automotive service providers as well. In our modern challenging economic climate it is imperative that automotive services shops be proactive, starting to make changes to green and developing eco-friendly, sustainable business plans if they are to be successful into the long-term future.
The Economic Benefits of Going Green In addition to being necessary to satisfy current customers and increase a company’s customer base, going green can also offer green auto shops more immediate economic advantages in terms of savings and adaptability. As far as savings, while making the move to green business can cost a bit in the short term, there are almost always long term financial benefits. One example is installing an energy efficient HVAC system. Systems that are highly efficient or include modern technologies such as solar or geothermal components can cost significantly more to purchase and install than traditional systems. However, these systems can save massive amounts of money off a monthly power bill and often pay for themselves in as few as 7 years, though some can take up to 20 years depending upon building use.
Staying Ahead of the Competition and the Government While there are many economic benefits and moral reasons for going green, the best reasons to go green could be to stay ahead of the competition and to make changes before government regulations force them. For example, many governments are considering forced removal of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from paint (including automotive paint) within the next year or two. An automotive company that switches to low VOC paint now can start advertising their environmental consciousness now. They can also get ahead of the competition who will likely wait for government mandates and then experience a lag time as they learn the new procedures associated with the new product.
Take Small Steps towards Awareness and Sustainability Going green does not have to involve huge changes overnight and it does not have to cost tens of thousands of dollars. In fact, going green can start very small – and some of these small green initiatives can even be done in a way that makes your auto company look good to customers. Let’s look at four small things that you can do to make your auto shop green and how you can do them in a way that is transparent and earns you good will among your clients and society as a whole:
1) Recycle in your office. It could not be more simple than putting recycle bins in your office and waiting room to recycle plastic, glass and paper. These simply, attractive blue bins can help keep waste out of landfills and also make a statement to everyone who enters your building that you care about going green. In fact, make a bolder statement by maintaining large bins and offering customers the opportunity to bring in their own recyclables for you to take care of. The cost of the recycling will be minimal. In fact, if you spend a little time making some phone calls you may find a place that will actually pay you for your recyclables.
2) Recycle your auto parts. Believe it or not, there are people who will use the old auto parts you are paying to throw away for crafts and other projects. One place to start is with TerraCycle.com, who will accept some of your recyclables. Also, consider advertising on Etsy.com or Craigslist – those old calipers and shocks might become art one day. Similarly, look for a company that can take old tires for recycling into playground mulch. In fact, see if you can find out where the company has sold some of your mulched tires to and them put a picture of the playground on your waiting room wall!
3) Make smarter buying decisions. Save money and landfill space by striving to purchase used automotive parts when it seems appropriate. Also, look at your consumables such as oil and paint. Try to move to non-petroleum based products, non-toxic products and the like. Consider the health of your workers, customers and the environment at large when considering what you will use, how it will be used and how it will be disposed of.
4) Look at your storm water management. One of the biggest polluters in our modern world is storm water run-off that picks up oil, grease and other toxins as it flows over non-permeable parking lots and other services and into our rivers and streams. Develop a cleaning method and storm water run-off policy that prevents the dangerous chemicals and auto products in your auto shop from entering natural water ways.
5) Get Certified. You can use your green status to grow business of your auto shop with right marketing. Get green certification from a reputable third-party. Display your certification in your auto shop where it is visible to your customers. Engage in conversation with your customers about your green initiatives to spread awareness. Enjoy the benefits of becoming a certified green auto shop!