Regardless of your belief in global warming and the negative impact we, as humans, have had on the o-zone layer, we can still universally agree that solar power is better for the environment.
Plain and simple: the earth has limited natural resources. Oil, coal, and other fossil fuels are finite, and the reserves just aren’t as plentiful as they once were. We live in a globalized world. Infrastructures, communications, and means of transportation all require power; the only truly sustainable source of power is the sun.
But making your auto dealership environmentally responsible doesn’t put food on your table. It doesn’t help your business to thrive, allowing you to employ members of the community. Fortunately, being environmentally responsible and fiscally responsible aren’t mutually exclusive options. Investing in solar power helps your bottom line.
Controlling costs and running a lean business helps keep your auto dealership profitable even when the sales dip. Utility bills have long been an overlooked expenditure because of limited options to choose from. But solar power presents a unique, advantageous option to auto dealerships across the country.
Energy costs represent the third largest expense for auto dealerships, totaling more than $2 billion nationwide. Long hours and brightly-lit showrooms are part of the package, but it puts your business at a distinct disadvantage, using 18% more energy than comparably-sized office buildings.
Investing in a solar power system for your dealership can offset part – if not all – of those energy costs. You see, the architecture of most dealerships actually makes it an ideal business for solar power, as there is plenty of rooftop real estate on which to place photovoltaic panels.
More Panels = More Energy Generated = Less Energy Purchased
Energy rates are, typically, not fixed. In fact, energy costs have risen on 63% over the past 30 years – with an additional 5% increase anticipated in 2018. That is a significant price hike for your dealerships third-largest expense!
Opting for a solar power system, on the other hand, brings a greater level of cost certainty. Lower, more predictable costs provide sustainability for your business, and allows you to set more reasonable, realistic income goals.
Cost savings are tangible. A simple formula allows you to take your building’s square footage, divide it by the size of a solar panel, estimate daylight hours in your geographic region, and calculate how much less you’ll need to hand over to a utility company for energy. Income benefits are less predictable, but still very real and very relevant.
The public’s perception of your business is crucial to sustain success. A customer isn’t a number, but rather a human being with values and ideals. As such, a human being is more likely to favor a business that shares those same values and ideals. As more and more of your customers shift to organic, environmentally-friendly lifestyles, the more your auto dealership will benefit from solar power. The switch to solar shows a commitment to the planet; it shows a commitment to life.
Boiled down to the simplest denominator: no customer will walk away because your company uses solar power, but a customer could shop elsewhere if they think your competitors’ values are more in line with their own.
Sales is not the only indirect benefit of solar power, either. Solar carports provide cover and weather protection for your dealership’s display lots. As you well know, protecting a vehicle from the elements can prevent issues like hail damage, scratches from debris, or even paint fading from the sun.
Keeping Up with the Jones’s
In business, you’ve got to keep up – or risk falling way behind. Your competition is already beginning to take advantage of solar power. Maybe we’re not talking about the dealership down the street – yet – but we soon could be.
Boulder Nissan, Boulder, CO – This dealership installed a 50-kW rooftop system, utilizing rebates and grants from Xcel Energy, the City of Boulder, Boulder County and the 30% Federal Tax Credit. They’re currently offsetting 67% of their energy usage and estimate a 25-year, $384,000 savings!
Covert Auto, Hutto, TX – The addition of a 125.6-kW was self-financed, utilizing a 30% Federal Tax Credit and a 20% Utility Rebate, is already paying major dividends. With an estimated 53% energy offset, Covert Auto should save more than $500,000 over a 25-year period!
Vallejo Toyota, Plano, TX – Opting for a smaller, carport solar power system, Vallejo is still reaping the rewards. Just four carport structures are offsetting 33% of their dealership’s energy usage.
Solar Power: Sustainability + Profitability
We live in a post-recession United States. Running a lean and mean business isn’t a luxury, rather a necessity, to remain profitable in 2018.
Before you cut back on staffing or inventory to tighten the business’ belt buckle, consider solar energy. Reduce your operating costs and give your brand a boost in one fell swoop…and help the environment while you’re at it.