I went to my dealer to get the oil changed in my car. As I sat in their waiting room I got to thinking about why I bought a car at this place. The answer, of course, was that I thought I got the best value for the money. They seem to do a pretty good job all around.
However, as I lounged, turning the pages of some innocuous magazine, and sipped coffee my conscience nagged at me.
"Bob! Isn't it important that this place cares about the environment? Shouldn't we be buying from the most environmentally friendly car dealer in town?"
"Yes!" I answered. "I guess so."
"So get up and do something about it!"
Right. It was time to engage idea: 674 - Give your business to Green Companies!
With mild trepidation, I got up from my chair, walked out of the waiting room and headed down the corridor to the showroom. This kind of thing is not my cup of tea.
I was immediately approached by a salesperson.
“If you have questions let me know. I’ll be right over there at my desk.” He advised me.
”Well... I was wondering if I could talk to the manager.”
”Sure.” He said and led my to the Sales Managers office.
”This fellow has a question for you.”
The Sales Manager looked at me. “How can I help you?” He smiled.
I paused. "My wife and I have made this decision to buy only from "environmentally friendly" companies." I raised my hands making the little quotation signs. "I was wondering if you have a company sustainability mission statement or something like that." The smile was replaced by a look I would describe as quizzically, bewildered. I glanced behind me. The salesman had disappeared.
"Uh... You know, that's really not my area. I'm the sales manager." He mumbled a few things and then seemed to find traction. "You should really talk to..." He gave me a couple names including a Company owner.
"I see.... Are they here?"
"Oh no, their offices are at our other location across town." He seemed to be relieved.
On the way home I thought about driving across town but then came up with a less time consuming and gas guzzling solution. I would send out an email and see what I got back. Not only did I send it to my dealer but every dealer in town using the the 'contact us' portion of their websites. In it I explained that we were searching for green businesses to buy from and asked for a list of their accomplishments on behalf of the environment.
I got back two answers. The first was from a Ford dealer who took some time to make a list of practices and efforts they had made to help the planet out. I could tell he was reaching but appreciated his efforts. The second reply was from a Toyota dealer. His list was truly impressive and he seemed genuinely proud of their accomplishments. I was also impressed. I replied to both telling them that my next car would come from one of them. I also told them that we had a eco-club and I would tell their story to the group. I encouraged them to continue their efforts and to be sure to train all their employees in the importance of sustainability.
This was not a difficult exercise and I intend to do it with some regularity. I think it would have greater impact in person but I did manage to cover more ground through the internet. I'm sure none of these businesses called emergency response meetings to cope with the eco-radical who showed up in their digital mailbox. After all, I might have been the first person to ever approach them about the environmental issues. On the other hand I might have been the third person to do so. I can tell you that I was in business for 30 years and just a few oblique requests of this nature would have gotten our attention. We would have talked about it and probably taken action of some kind. At the very least I planted some seeds. it’s the kind of story that gets legs in the company grapevine: “Hey! Guess what some guy asked me today?”
Such actions pack immensely more power if done in the name of a group of consumers: “Hi, I’m from Buckeye Meadows Eco-Club. We are determined to buy only from.....”. That kind of thing.
I think this is one you could do. Give it a try.