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Franchises Can Win Customers by Going Green

Posted by Tracy Stapp Herold | September 29, 2009
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/218541
franchise-green.jpgQuick-service customers want to feel good about themselves. That's why healthier options like salads and fruit have become popular fixtures on fast food menus in recent years. But a new survey from M/A/R/C Research shows that customers might care just as much about the Earth's health as their own--and quick-service franchises can capitalize on that.

Of the 7,000 quick-service customers surveyed, 48% said it was very important or extremely important to them that fast-food restaurants have green initiatives, and only 18% said the issue was not very or not at all important to them. Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they would visit a restaurant more often if they knew it was involved in green practices.

That's a big "if" though. The survey also found that 80% of the participants were not aware of any quick-service restaurants implementing green practices, despite the fact that several franchises have opened LEED-certified locations and are working on other ways to become more eco-friendly.

So clearly "going green" is only the first step for quick-service franchisors and franchisees who want to win over eco-conscious consumers; they've got to make sure those consumers know they're doing it as well. And it could be difficult to turn around people's perceptions of an industry known for its copious use of disposable cups, wrappers, boxes and bags.

Newer franchises that are making eco-friendliness a prominent part of their brands from the beginning may have an easier time. Fort Lauderdale-based Pizza Fusion, for instance, proudly displays the tagline "Saving the earth one pizza at a time" on its website. And it makes good on that claim with an entire section of the site dedicated to explaining all of the company's strategies for being greener than the average restaurant, from using hybrid cars as delivery vehicles, to recycling pizza boxes, to using the heat from their ovens to warm their restaurants.

And though this survey focused on the quick-service industry, the findings can be applied to franchises in other industries as well. No matter what product or service they're seeking, today's consumers will be drawn to any company that's making a positive impact on the environment. So it's no surprise that in recent years new franchisors have come onto the scene offering greener versions of everything from residential cleaning to lawn care to hair salons.