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Business Operations

Seeing green

October 11, 2010
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Next time you’re walking the aisles in the grocery store, take stock of all the new logos on food packaging. Sometimes known as “nutrition profiling systems,” these symbols help shoppers identify healthy choices at the market.

The carwash industry could learn from these manufacturers, from Kellogg’s’ Nutrition at a Glance™ to the National Dairy Council’s 3-A-Day logo, these markings show how operators could market the environmental benefits of professional carwashing.

Leaves and trees
Even though carwashes might have eco-friendly business practices in place, many seem reluctant to promote their green chemical lines and equipment, according to Brent McCurdy, co-owner of the Bristol, PA-based Blendco Systems, LLC, a provider of car cleaning solutions, including green chemicals, to the carwash industry. “Perhaps there aren’t enough winning stories out there yet about washes that have done this,” McCurdy considered.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult. Green marketing can be as simple as a drawing of a green leaf. “One major advantage to the green movement is that green marketing is pretty easily understood by the consumer,” McCurdy said. He cited his company’s own ad campaigns for its Cleaner and Greener chemical lines. “Ask anyone you see and they will know it’s a green message without reading any words,” McCurdy explained.

Perry Powell, an independent sign consultant specializing in coaching business owners in the application and acquisition of site specific signage, advised operators to consider the copyright issues before moving forward with a new signage program, though.

“Logos and symbols should be legal and correct,” Powell maintained. “There are a variety of environmental symbols which are not public domain. Many of the symbols out there are given out by various not for profit organizations which test, confirm, and monitor the use of these symbols.”

Powell said an operator could face consequences if he/she used a symbol without being qualified. He suggested contacting your chemical or equipment supplier to research potential symbols they may have rights to or be able to provide.

Where to place signs
Powell reminded operators that being green is not the main message — it is an added value of the carwash service. Therefore, discrete signs which do not compete with the ones that produce revenue are preferable, Powell said. “These can be used in menus and other signs, as long as the design is complimentary of the over-all theme of the sign,” he added.

For instance, placing green signs near the menu, if not incorporated into the menu, and in areas where customers may wait for services will achieve the desired result. Powell also suggested operators consider creating a brochure explaining the wash’s green cleaning methods and how it complies with various eco-friendly washing methods.

Design and educate
Operators need to carefully consider the design of any new signage so that it may flow and augment the wash’s current signage. “Great design incorporates ‘first read’ methodology,” according to Powell. He recommended operators create the graphics and copy to have a specific flow which controls the eyes of the consumer.

“This type of design method will ensure that our message is read as intended,” he concluded.

In addition to the design of a new sign or logo, McCurdy suggested operators train all greeters to further communicate the environmental benefits of professional carwashing and understand the meaning behind the signage.

“The biggest mistake a wash could make to an environmentally-committed consumer is to come off as a sham or fraud in the area of environmentally-friendly products,” McCurdy explained. He said greeters should be able to list all of the commitments that the wash has made in terms of chemical choices, chemical packaging recycling, water re-use, solar or wind power generation, etc. The more knowledgeable your staff is, the more comfortable your customers will be.

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