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Go Green! 5 Tips for Sustainably Responsible Retail Businesses

In this day and age, most of us know the importance of going green. We recycle at home and have switched out plastic bags for sustainable totes when going to the grocery store. However, not as many green efforts are being made in retail businesses, even though it’s easier than ever to do so.

There are so many reasons to go green, with the most important one being that it is beneficial for us, the future generation and our planet. However, it’s also good for business! Going green helps you both save and make money.  When you make small changes, such as becoming energy efficient, you save money every month on your utility bill.

Plus, consumers are demanding more than ever that the companies they are loyal to become more environmentally sustainable.  By showing your customers that you are committed to going green, you can attract a new audience base, thereby increasing your sales.  Below are five easy tips on a sustainably responsible retail business that you can start implementing today:

Make it Part of Your Corporate Culture

It’s not enough for you to decide to go green, you must encourage your entire team to do so with you. Incorporate an environmentally-friendly initiative into your corporate culture. Discuss ways to be more sustainable with your employees and how you can reduce, reuse and recycle, and then implement the strategies into your everyday life. Purchase blue recycling bins so that your employees remember to recycle. Reward them for biking, taking public transportation or carpooling to work.

Reduce Paper Use

Over 30 million acres of forest around the world are destroyed every year to make paper. This is why it’s important to reduce paper use as much as possible. Encourage your employees to email or write something down on a small post it rather than print an entire page when it’s unnecessary. Teach them to print on both sides instead of single sided.

Ask your customers if they prefer an email receipt over a paper one; this will also give you the opportunity to collect email addresses to stay in touch with your clients. Reward your customers with a small discount for bringing in their bags instead of giving our plastic ones.

Create a Green Wall

In many retail businesses, air is recirculated throughout the ducts and becomes stale. Instead of using the A/C even more or investing in an air purifier, create a green wall! This will allow you to create a unique space that is affordable and will improve air quality. Spider plants, common ivy and sword plants are the best options for cleaner indoor air and a cool look.

Turn Everything Off

It’s likely that you leave computers, cash registers and lights on when your business is not operating, which wastes electricity and raises your utility bill. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of turning each and every item on and off daily, invest into a smart plug. This way, you can control your devices from anywhere with an app or with voice control through Alexa or Google Assistant.  

Green Marketing

Once you commit to making sustainable changes in your retail business, spread the word!  Concentrate on effective green marketing strategies to let your customers know all of the new initiatives you’re putting forth.

Why not host an event to celebrate you going green, and educate your customers about your efforts? This is an excellent way to increase foot traffic and help new customers get acquainted with your business.

IOU Financial works with small businesses to help them finance their needs. If you need a small  business loan in order to help your company go green, visit us today at www.ioufinancial.com.

How My Business Can Give Back (While Still Being Financially Responsible)

Giving back to the community is a wonderful thing, just on the face of it. It’s also a way for a small business to show its ties to the community, attract new customers and increase networking opportunities. Your marketing should see a boost when you enhance your reputation and brand recognition by publicizing your social responsibility. The great thing is that there are many ways to give back without breaking the bank. Here are 10:

  1. Collection jar:

    Here’s an easy way to start. Put a collection jar on your counter for the charity of your choice. You can post a sign next to it saying you’ll match all contributions one for one.

  2. Referral program:

    You can team up with a charity or nonprofit by giving a set amount when a customer refers a new customer. For example, you might give $25 in the referrer’s name to your local no-kill pet shelter with each referral.

  3. Sponsor an event:

    This is a great way to get a huge amount of recognition in the community. It need not be expensive, especially if you team up with other businesses. Consider events like a 10K walk, where you donate water bottles to participants.

  4. Encourage employees to volunteer:

    Give employees some paid time off each quarter to volunteer at worthwhile causes. Programs like Habitat for Humanity gladly accept folks to volunteer for a few hours, a day or more. By participating in this type of initiative, you might find it easier to recruit and retain quality employees.

  5. Buy from your small business neighbors:

    Get together with your other nearby small businesses to promote local buying. This directly helps the community by supporting local businesses in their quest to fight off the big chains that dominate the landscape. Your group can print up signs and post them in your storefronts promoting local buying and naming the participants. You can also leave positive reviews on social media.

  6. Offer a play area:

    Parents are more likely to shop in your store if you set up a play area where they can deposit their young kids for a while. Even a few minutes of relief will be much appreciated by parents, who likely will become regular customers even after the kids grow up and leave home.

  7. Participate in community events:

    The key here is to print up T-shirts for you and your employees to wear at local events, like a highway flower planting or car wash to benefit the local high school.

  8. Adopt a highway:

    Speaking of highways, contact your local authorities about adopting a stretch of highway. It doesn’t cost much, and they will put up a sign seen by tens of thousands each day that recognizes your contribution. That’s cost-effective marketing!

  9. Sponsor a school sports team:

    You choose the amount of money to contribute. Maybe you decide to pay for shirts or caps with your logo on them. Then you can take out local printed ads announcing your sponsorship and wishing the team well. Parents will be impressed.

  10. Start a charity drive:

    Think about a book drive for the local library, or a food/clothing drive for the less fortunate. Alternatively, join in on an existing drive, perhaps a soup kitchen or toys for tots. Even a small contribution will be greatly appreciated.

 

How Corporate Social Responsibility Can Help Your Business

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a strategy many small and mid-size business owners should embrace for two reasons: to help society and to help their own image. There are many causes you can choose to support, such as saving the rainforest, helping refugees, or contributing to a local boys & girls club. A source lists the most common causes of US companies as the following:
1. Efforts to protect the environment (74%),
2. End discrimination or restrictions based on sexual orientation (59%) or gender (54%),
3. Improve access to quality education (59%)
4. Protect human rights abroad (49%)
5. End discrimination/restrictions based on gender identity (52%)

Why adopt CSR into your operations? For these three reasons:

Set Your Business Apart

Regardless of what niche your business is in, you have competition. A way to identify your brand and let potential clients know what sets you apart from your competitors is with the adoption of a social initiative. For example, TOMS shoes, is a great example of an owner who built CSR right into the business model. For every pair of shoes bought, the company donates a pair to those in need around the world. This cause helped people connect with the brand, and sales soared!

People like feeling good about themselves and know that they are making a difference in the world by spending their money. If you align your business interests with a social or environmental cause, you can set your business apart and grab more market share away from your competitors.

Staff Engagement

While a CSR can help you connect with your audience, it is also beneficial to your own staff. Although they are motivated to come to work every day to receive a paycheck, they can become more engaged with the company and invested in its success if there is a cause they believe in involved.

For example, some real estate agents participate in a network called Charitable Agents, which donates 10 percent of commission from homes sales to charities. Agents can feel good about not only making a profit from a sale, but also contributing to a cause close to their heart. This benefits the business with more exposure, as people looking to make a difference when buying or selling a home will find an agent through this network, bringing new business to the agency.

Lower Costs

Corporate social responsibility doesn’t only have to involve donating money to causes, it can also benefit you within the confines of your company. For example, companies who pledge to help the environment should start with changes in their own offices, such as recycling, switching to energy-friendly appliances and technology, reducing water usage, etc.

Not only will these actions represent your true commitment to your cause to your clients and employees, but it will cut costs and promote your own sustainability in the years to come.

Oftentimes, small business owners need funds to market their CSR efforts, otherwise their clients may not know about them. IOU Financial is committed to helping business owners make a difference in the world, which is why we offer small business loans in as little as 24 hours.