Our customers are smart.  Really smart.  I am not just saying that because they’re our customers.  As a group, the managers and executives that run large, complex warehouses and industrial facilities are a very savvy bunch who run profitably in a thin-margin business.  They handle tons of inventory (think about the food in your grocery, the products at your favorite retailer, and more) with highly efficient staff, and are always looking for ways to improve their businesses to stay competitive.

With hundreds of thousands of square feet to manage — either dry (ambient), climate controlled or chilled – and energy bills that match the size and scale of their operations, the utility bill is never far from their thoughts.  In contrast to the residential customer, who thinks about the energy bill for a whopping 6 minutes per year (according to industry lore) and who gets caught up on a $2 light bulb vs. a $3 CFL alternative, these facility owners/managers think about energy bills ALL the time.   Why?  The dollars used to pay these bills are dollars that can readily be invested in other parts of the business for greater strategic gain.

The Digital Lumens team talks to these managers and their finance and executive teams daily about how our LED-based Intelligent Lighting System can meet their needs and dramatically reduce their energy bills.  We have a compelling value proposition – 100% of the light for 10% of the energy – and lots of data to back up the claim.  But a great value proposition is merely the starting point for the conversation.  Here are some of our learnings:

  • Facility teams are very interested in the many benefits of energy efficiency – from financial to reducing carbon footprint — but their primary objective is making their businesses more profitable.
  • Any energy efficiency investment — from lighting to solar – absolutely must make good business sense and in a reasonable time horizon.
  • Facility managers understand the difference between Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and up-front purchase price.  With 5-, 10- or 20-year horizons, the name of the game for these customers is TCO.  (Note: Tom did an earlier blog post that delved into the TCO calculations.)
  • Numbers talk and understanding real savings potential is essential.  To that end, facility managers can now use the Energy Savings Calculator on our web site to get an analysis of the savings possible from different lighting alternatives.   ZD Net also posted a recent piece about the calculator.

The encouraging news is that there is a growing body of data across multiple industries to support the belief that sustainability investments are good for business.    While not lighting-focused, a recent GreenBiz article, “Across Sectors, Companies Report Big Savings From Sustainability” cites initiatives at major companies, including AT&T, Ball, SAABMiller (brewer of Miller Genuine Draft, Pilsner Urquell), that are making great progress toward sustainability goals while saving money.  Andrew Winston also has a great perspective on how sustainability decisions can contribute to the bottom line.

At the end of the day, it’s good to be green, but it’s essential that green be profitable.