ROI: The key to turning customers on to green

ImageIt doesn’t matter if my clients are steeped in green or stepping into green, the challenge of providing clear and concise Return on Investment (ROI) for their customers seems an exercise in “blood, sweat and tears.”

The green industry does a fine job in spouting the “Save the Planet!” message for customers, which is a good thing, but when it comes to the message of “How Does Green Save Me Money?” — it’s often muddy or missing.

Take home remodeling.  According to the latest Professional Remodeler green research, energy-efficient products continue to grow in popularity while other green improvements are lagging.  In Housingzone.com’s recent special report on green remodeling, 45 percent of remodelers believe that green features help them sell remodeling projects. While up 33 percent from 2007, it remains flat from a year ago.  Take energy retrofits.  For some time, homeowners have been sold on the fact that they are good for the environment and save them money on utility bills; however, a recent article in CNNMoney.com points out that appraisers don’t recognize these features one iota when conducting their home appraisals.

Years back, Cleveland-based Buildings magazine stated that “thanks to programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s landmark LEED rating system for buildings, green facilities have crept into the mainstream.” I have to also mention a new  up-and-coming program, Green Globes, a viable alternative to LEED.  But, the article went on to say that “despite the growing recognition of sustainable practices, green products, and high-performance technologies in building design and construction, concern within the facilities industry continues due to lack of accurate, thorough, and quantifiable information about the financial and economic impacts of high-performance buildings.”

These indicators tell me that this industry, among many others, is not doing its job in conveying the green ROI to its customers.

How can we develop this key green ROI message for customers?  It takes time and an investment. Here are some of the ways:

  • Be persistent with your suppliers and manufacturers to pull ROI information out of them any way you can.
  • Set up a monitoring system with your past customers who have invested in your green products to get ROI stats first-hand.
  • Invest in a third party—university research department, local marketing firm—to assist in getting the information for you.
  • Comb the Internet for helpful product ROI information such as greenandsave.com and thedailygreen.com.
  • Develop your own ROI formulas and tables by using compound interest calculators.

It can be done. It’s well worth the time and investment to develop the ROI formula for your customers.  This will put the “green”  in your pocket as well as help save the planet.

Winter Bicycle Commuting in Akron…No Sweat!

cycling-winter

Actually, the good news is that you do generate a lot of sweat bicycle commuting on hills…and that’s what keeps your body temperature just about right, even in single digit temps!

Now, if it’s Tuesday, it must be bicycle commuting to Tallmadge in snow, sleet, wind, rain and/or hail. The reason you can count on every Tuesday in Akron to be the worst weather day of the week is because it’s my consistent day without a car. I’m in a carshare.

Dress right and smart…and bicycle commuting in winter is a pleasure. Full wool mask under the helmet, fingertip open/close gloves, long underwear, wool socks–you are never cold, just invigorated. Hey, if I can survive bicycle commuting in frigid temps on icy roads and feel great–anyone can!

Here’s my ROI on hoppin’ on the bike 3 days per week instead of getting behind the wheel November- March, auto and bicycle purchase costs not included:

BICYCLE: Down vest, fleece shirt, rainsport coat, Platos Closet, $24; wool face mask,Goodwill, $3; fingertip open/close gloves,Gabriel Bros., $6; Long underwear, Gabriel Bros., $6; wool socks, Gabriel Bros., $5; rubber overalls, Village Outlet, $6; used Nature Conservancy backpack, Goodwill, $4; used bicycle helmet, Salvation Army, $4; Schwinn combination bike lock on sale, Falls Wheel & Wrench, $15; bicycle rack on sale  (to deflect water and hold change of clothes), Century Cycles, $15; TOTAL: $88

CAR: Gas, $1000: oil change, $40; car washes, $120; avg. repairs, $450; license $75, insurance $400, parking fees/tolls, $90. TOTAL: $2175

TOTAL SAVINGS: $2087

FACTS ABOUT BICYCLING AS A COMMUTE OPTION

  • More than half of all American s live less than five miles from where they work according to Bicycling magazine.
  • Only 1.67% of Americans commute by bicycle.
  •  In Japan, 15% commute by bicycle; In China, bicycles outnumber cars 250 to 1.
  •  About 12 bicycles can be parked in the space required for one automobile.
  •  Traffic jams in the 29 major cities cost commuters an estimated $24.3 billion each year.
  •  100 bicycles can be produced for the same energy/resources it takes to build a medium   automobile.
  •  The average cost of a new car in the U.S. is $13,532; average cost of a new bicycle in the U.S. is $385.
  • Commuting by bicycle produces zero pollution a.k.a. no carbon footprint.
  • The majority of U.S. cities have seen a jump in the number of bicycle  commuters–Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis lead–Tulsa, Kansas City, Cleveland are ranked for most improved and having best future.

winter bikeThe City of Akron is making great strides in encouraging bicycle commuting–seeing a lot more designated bike lanes popping up all the time. I am still waiting for bicycle rental kiosks downtown and at the U of Akron, more companies providing bicycle commuting incentives to their employees, more paved shoulders with white lane striping and more bike racks in key locales.

Akron, you’ve got a little more work to do to become a leading community for commuter and recreational bicycling–but you’re getting there.

CHECK OUT AKRON’S BEST EFFORT YET: The Switching Gears website run by AMATS (Akron Metro Area Transportation Study) for a comprehensive look at bicycle planning and promotion for the region–very encouraging.

See what merry old England says about: 5 Reasons to Cycle to Work