So you want to buy a green franchise. Fortunately, there’s a whole range of green franchises to choose from. Interested in professional cleaning? Check out Maid Brigade, a home cleaning franchise that uses only green cleaning solutions, equipment and procedures. What about alternative energy? You might want to consider Solar Universe, a solar installation and finance concept. Or maybe you’re crazy about food? Both Pizza Fusion and Le Pain Quotidien received the highest ratings in this year’s green industry ratings released by Greenopia, an online directory that helps consumers make green, sustainable and socially conscious decisions about their daily purchases.
Unfortunately, there’s also a whole lot of greenwashing going on as some franchisors try to profit from the hype without putting forth the effort required to be truly green. So how do you choose the green franchise that’s right for you–and how do you evaluate the opportunity to make sure that the company is truly green and not just giving lip service to the environmental movement? Follow these guidelines to make sure that your path paved with good intentions doesn’t end up full of potholes.
Narrow your search by using the many online resources available. There has been such an increase in demand for green franchises that several Web sites now dedicate a special section to green opportunities, which should help make your search a bit easier. Check out America’s Best Franchises, Franchise Direct, and Green Franchise Directory for a list of green and eco-friendly franchise opportunities. Because franchisors pay to get listed on these directories, you shouldn’t limit your search exclusively to these sites; however, they are a good starting point.
Look out for the Green America Seal of Approval. Green America,, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the green movement, has started a certification process in an effort to help responsible consumers and green businesses find each other in the marketplace. Those companies that bear the seal have successfully passed Green America’s screening process and been deemed socially and environmentally responsible.
Be honest to yourself about your business goals and make sure you do something that you’re truly passionate about. “Start by first setting clear goals for what you want to accomplish by owning your own business,” says Jeff Elgin, CEO of FranChoice Inc., a network of franchise referral consultants. “Helping the environment might be one of those goals, but most people would rank making a good living or doing something that they enjoy higher than being green.”
Do a thorough investigation to ensure that you’re making a good investment in a truly green franchise. “I’d advise everyone to ask for details and lots of specific examples on what being green means to the company and then evaluate from there,” says Elgin.
Joel Libava, a franchise consultant, marketer and founder of the Green Franchise Directory, agrees, saying that prospective franchisees should ask tough questions such as:
- Are you working on your LEED certification for your building?
- Are you encouraging new franchisees to seek out LEED-certified locations or at least ones in which the commercial real estate developers are going that direction?
- Has corporate done the little things like demand that all the light bulbs be converted to energy-saving CFLs?
- If there are vehicles involved in the franchise concept, are they hybrids?
- Does corporate work with a green business consultant who helps them do all of these things?
When it comes to the extent of the franchisor’s green efforts, don’t just take their word for it. Visit company headquarters, advises Libava, and see for yourself whether the executives of the franchise are “walking the walk.”
Finding an authentically green franchise opportunity that’s right for you may take some time, but it will be well worth your patience. “This is a topic that is already huge, but I think it is going to be far more important in another five to 10 years,” predicts Elgin. “By that time, I think there will be much tighter definitions and much more savvy consumers, so that you’ll have to be really green in order to claim [you are] green.”
Sara Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in issues related to small businesses. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org