Which come first: The way you make money, or the way you run your business? Interesting when you put it in those words. One could say if you take care of the details, the bigger things will take care of themselves. Let's apply that principle to the goal of being a green business.
We opened Patriot Subaru in Saco, Maine in 2003, from scratch. It was an opportunity that we saw to develop an under served market, and we've grown every year since then. Couple years ago we started to see a downturn in the economy, We took an environmental strategy that dovetailed out of those conversations. We started to look at all the expenses of the dealership, and how we could cut back on some of those things, while at the same time we realized we could do things that had a positive impact for the environment. By being environmentally more conscious, we could be more cost effective.
When you walk into a room, the lights turn on, and they turn off when you leave. When we leave at night, we shut everything down, and that means all computers and coffee makers. On a larger scale, we replaced all of the outdoor lighting with LED lighting, which will reduce our outside lighting costs by about 80%. The initial investment is a hurdle, but we worked with Efficiency Maine to help lower costs, and second, the payback schedule of about 5 years we considered to be a great investment. On another level, we compost leftover food from lunches, and use it on our organic vegetable garden. That came from the fact that we had some space, and employees who enjoyed gardening, but you'd be surprised how many customers like to get in and help out, rather than sit in the waiting room. They go home with a tune-up and a head of lettuce! We recycle all the oil, water, and paper, and metal and tires that we use. At the end of the day, we are a zero land fill facility.
We do this because it is the right thing to do, not for the recognition, or awards. The fact is, by being green, we improved our bottom line in a tough economy. At Patriot, we have always had a different value proposition. That is to say, its not always about price. Price can not be the only difference maker when someone is buying a car. Yes, the car has to be a great car, and to that end, Subaru is putting out an amazing lineup. Yes the price has to be a great price, lets face it, we all want a good deal. But what you get from the dealership and the partnership with the customer has to be genuine. The customer has to know that we will be there for them no matter what the situation is. Our team is involved in the community, and our business is involved in the community because we enjoy it. We seem to get more back than what we put into it, or sometimes it just feels that way. That's the way we run our business, and it works. We're growing in a tough economy, hiring more people, and making every day count. So to answer the question about what comes first: It's the way you run your business.