Today’s consumers appreciate businesses with a sense of social responsibility, but being a good global citizen while maintaining a positive customer environment and keeping costs down can be a challenge. Some businesses are rising to the challenge by starting recycling programs and installing energy-efficient light bulbs, but think that further initiatives will be too complicated to implement. A green cleaning program, can, however, meet any business’ criteria for performance and cost.
If a product doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter that it is earth-friendly or affordable. Companies can go to their distributors, who will usually provide sample products. Companies can then test the products in as many scenarios as possible. Tests should take weather into consideration. For example, businesses located in regions that experience heavy rain or snow all winter may not choose the best product if they test in dry, summery conditions.
Most product lines include highly effective products as well as others that don’t work as well. Since it’s pragmatic to order all products from a single brand, businesses should match their most important cleaning needs to the best products in the line. For example, a jewelry retailer must have crystal-clear display cases to showcase their products, so priority should be given to a line with a highly effective glass cleaner.
Evaluating the green claims of cleaning products can also be difficult. Several national organizations certify products as green, however each uses different criteria and specifications, based on proprietary definitions and internal reviews. One designation, DfE (Design for the Environment), is approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). DfE-certified products must meet rigorous standards for biodegradability and toxicity, health hazards, storage and shipping limitations, flammability, etc.
Companies also need to consider how products are packaged. Pre-measured packaging, for example, can contribute to a green initiative, as it creates less waste. Shipping and storage savings can be significant also. Products manufactured by Pak-It, LLC, a subsidiary of JBI, Inc (OTC-QX: JBII – News), come in water-soluble packets. Because they’re just packets of cleaning concentrate and aren’t mixed with water, there is less weight to ship and space-saving storage.
The cost of cleaning products should be evaluated on a total cost of ownership basis since so many factors contribute to the overall goal of a clean retail environment. Businesses can make an estimate by choosing one location and determining how much money it would cost to keep it clean for one year with each product in consideration, including storage costs, labor and supplies.
One size does not fit all when it comes to cleaning, especially for multi-location retailers. Consideration should be given to seasonal changes in cleaning needs as well as those based on general geographic location. National multi-location retailers can generalize by classifying stores in zones and considering the unique needs of each zone to ensure that the cleaning program is effective. By calculating the cost on an annual basis, any seasonal impacts will be taken into consideration.