How Franchising can help save the planet

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Whether you choose to believe or debunk climate change, there is no question that collectively we need to take action to save the planet. From a perspective of a commercial structure, the franchise business structure has distinct advantages that could just help save the planet!

Size and ability to scale creates opportunity

Size really does matter; decisions and actions of large franchise systems can create significant impact.

We know the removal of plastic straws from use by a few global franchises could eliminate many millions straws from ending up in the oceans.

What about the innocuous bar of soap?

Hilton Hotels claim their soap recycling program across their 5600 hotels has produced more than 9.6 million “new” soap bars and diverted more than a million tons from landfill.

Let’s pursue the case study of a franchised hotel chain further.

Their ability to exert positive impact extends well beyond soap and straws. Environmental practices influence everything from food sourcing, their associated carbon miles and food wastage, through to where and how to build hotel properties.

Usage policy influences water usage and recycling, through to energy including its production method.

Hilton’s overall 2030 environmental targets are impressive and achievable because of their size, and importantly because the franchise structure allows them to develop and implement decisions at speed and scale. (1) And, in most cases it saves and therefore makes money.

Size also creates flow-on effects, competitors and associated supplier businesses will follow if for no other reason than to remain commercially competitive.

Thinking global and acting local

In the commercial world the definition and practice of think global and act local is embodied in a franchise, a locally owned and operated outlet of either a national or international brand.

Acting local creates positive environmental results on a global scale.

From reducing carbon miles by purchasing locally produced goods to re-investing and supporting local causes, often environmental.

Strong local economics reduce the need for people to travel or relocate for employment.

The same could be argued of large corporate structures, but what creates authenticity in the franchise structure is the local franchise owner really is local and vested.

The Tauranga franchised fish and chip shop owner really does care that their system is sourcing fish sustainably – their livelihood depends on it as does the local fisherman’s.

Franchising’s ability to harness the powers of purpose and the market

Whether you like her or not, Greta Thunberg and her Gen Z, along with the millennials will change the world and hopefully save the planet, but it won’t be through protest, it will be through consumption choices.

Millennials make up approximately 30 percent of the world population and possess more buying power than any other generation.

They are the generation most concerned with the environment and sustainability, deciding the fate of many products and companies not only by purchases, but through likes, followings and influencing on social media.

But where the franchise structure is uniquely placed to deliver the products or brands that best meet the millennials’ environmental concerns is through its ability to harness the powers of both purpose and market forces.

Globalwebindex’s Sandy Livingstone discusses the difference between CSR – Corporate Social Responsibility – and purpose. (2)  CSR sits in the realm of corporate marketing, often used to offset a negative image, purpose is cultural and he stresses “when the intent is genuine, and the impact positive, commercial gain follows”.

I believe millennials are able to spot the difference between the so called green-washing by corporates with an environmental CSR statement, versus a franchise developed by a cause- orientated founder.

And perhaps more importantly, the latter is supported by vested franchisees that believe and act on the brand’s purpose, versus shareholders or employees wanting solely a financial return.

Millennial consumers have created a market positioned to reward these purpose-driven franchise founders and their franchisees. And just maybe to help save the planet at the same time.

1) Hiltons Hotels 2018 Corporate Responsibility Report
2) Sandy Livingstone – Globalwebindex

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Nathan Bonney
Nathan Bonney
Director of Iridium Partners. He can be reached at nathan@iridium.net.nz or 0275-393-022

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