The demand for environmentally friendly or “green cleaning” services is growing among both residential and commercial clients. Is it time for your cleaning business to go green? Here’s a look at the pros and cons to help you decide.
A Growing Demand for Green Cleaning
In the commercial realm, the market for green cleaning products is projected to increase for at least the next five years, according to The Future of Industrial and Institutional Cleaning Products to 2021. A growing percentage of new commercial construction is LEED-Certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), and in order to maintain this certification, these facilities must have green cleaning processes in place.
Consumers are also making green products and services part of their lifestyles. According to one survey, 89 percent of consumers want to be environmentally conscious—and that includes buying “green” products. New parents in particular believe it’s important to keep the home environment free from toxins and pollutants that can harm their little ones. As with commercial construction, the share of new, single-family housing that’s green has increased dramatically. By 2018, green single-family housing is expected to account for about 40 percent of all new housing construction.
The Risks of Going Green
Although consumers are definitely interested in green products and services, they’re also wary of paying too much for them. Four out of five consumers in one survey believe that environmentally friendly products always cost more than traditional products. About one-third say the biggest factor that would motivate them to buy a green product is if it were guaranteed to save them money.
Depending on where your target market lives (upscale residential neighborhoods) or who they are (commercial clients who must use green cleaning services to meet certification requirements), you may be able to charge higher prices for your green cleaning service. But if you’re planning to sell to traditional customers and not charge premium rates, it’s important to stress to potential customers that your services are not prohibitively expensive.
You’ll incur some initial costs whether you plan to add green services to your current cleaning business or go entirely green. You’ll need to invest in environmentally friendly cleaning supplies, including both cleaning products and tools. That means using microfiber cloths instead of disposable paper towels, purchasing vacuums or floor cleaners with high-filtration filters or dust-control systems to prevent pollutants from escaping, and perhaps even buying or leasing low-emission vehicles.
Finally, there will be some branding and marketing expenses involved. You may need to revamp your entire brand, including your logo and marketing materials, to reflect your new green focus. (Get some tips on how to brand your cleaning business.) Even if you don’t go this far, you’ll probably need to do some targeted advertising and marketing to let people know about your new services. (Here are some ideas for marketing a cleaning service.)
Financing, Marketing, and Training
If you do decide to go green, one way to finance the initial costs of the switch is with invoice financing from Fundbox. You can advance funds on your outstanding invoices to pay for the new products and equipment you need, and receive the funds as soon as the next business day (depending on your bank).
When marketing your green cleaning business, it’s important to educate customers and prospects about the benefits of green cleaning for their homes, offices, families, or employees. Clients may have concerns that green products don’t clean as well as traditional products, that their facility or home will smell funny, or that they’ll need more frequent service.
Authenticity is key. Consumers are wary of businesses that engage in “greenwashing,” or that claim to be environmentally friendly but actually aren’t. If you’re going to market your cleaning business as green, it’s important to be sure the products you use are truly environmentally friendly. The EPA website and GreenSeal can help you find such products.
You’ll also need to train your cleaning staff in the proper use of green cleaning products. While they do clean as thoroughly as traditional cleansers, in some cases, staff may need to use slightly different methods or put in a little more labor. However, the learning curve should be more than offset by the fact these products are healthier not only for your customers, but also for your staff and most likely for your business’s profits.