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Vehicle valeting firm has eco-friendly appeal

Stricter rules are needed to regulate the emerging green sector to safeguard the future of genuine operators in the industry. That is according to Gerardine Scanlan, managing director of the Green Valet Ireland (GVI) Franchise Network. “The growing green industry in Ireland is still largely unpoliced and under regulated. There are many operations advertising ‘eco’ cleaning products and services, but they just are not eco sensitive.

‘‘Just because a business says it’s eco-friendly does not make it so,’’ said Scanlan.

Scanlan said the ingredients used in GVI’s NoWet system were derived from organic sources, but this was not the case with some established products.

‘‘The vehicle cleaning industry uses detrimental artificial cleansers, wax and polishers and this toxicity is washed unchecked into our water tables. Anyone can set up a powerwash using a cheap toxic detergent. Our GreenValet Car Care system is the only EPA and VOC-compliant product available in Ireland.’’

Setting up

Scanlan set up the GVI Franchise Network in April with Harry Toye as her business partner. Toye has exclusive distribution rights in Britain and Ireland for the NoWet cleaning technology and has been supplying customers in Ireland since 2006. Scanlan established a pilot GreenValet franchise business in Charleville, Co Cork, in September 2009.

‘‘That allowed us to iron out any lumps and bumps, see what kind of profit margin we were looking at, and how many cars you could get through realistically in a single day. We also got to gauge people’s reactions to the product and the processes involved,’’ she said.

GVI plans to roll out a nationwide network of franchised operations from July.

‘‘Fully functioning franchises are starting at €17,000 and will have exclusive territory, with start up equipment, products, training and back office support provided,’’ said Scanlan.

‘‘Some might go on site and do the cars there, while others might collect the cars, clean them, and drop them back. Full marketing and customer acquisition is also provided and tailored for each area, including a website, social networking and internet and email marketing.’’

Irish market ready to go green

Scanlan said the Irish market was ready for green products and services.

‘‘If it is cost effective, people will choose the eco sensitive option. ‘‘Most people are genuinely delighted if there is an accessible and affordable green service nearby.

‘‘If green business is supported by legislation and local agencies are dedicated to eco change, then we are on our way to a better world for everyone,’’ she said. ‘‘I would advise anyone starting a green business to seek out other green businesses as they offer invaluable support.

Environent friendly cleaning

‘‘For example, we found that a Cork company, JSK Cleaning, provides an eco sensitive tar remover, which we now use as part of our product range.’’ Scanlan said that proposed local water charges and stricter health and safety legislation would create opportunities for companies offering environment friendly cleaning solutions.

‘‘About 200 litres of water is used per wash, so existing car cleaning and valeting companies are under pressure as county councils look to measure and charge for water. ‘‘There are also health and safety issues to consider. Businesses have a duty of care to employees and using toxic chemicals is detrimental to health,’’ she said.

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