The Four Ingredients Shari’s Uses for Sweet Energy Reeducation Success

Melody Swanson

Shari's, Jodenne Scott, Melody Swanson 2018 RFMAI recently co-presented at RFMA 2018, an industry-leading conference for restaurant facility professionals to network with peers, share knowledge, and gather resources to make their operations more successful. The presentation brought together Jodenne Scott, VP of Finance for Shari’s Café and Pies, and myself to talk about the Sustainable Resource Journey they began in 2009 – a mission to reduce energy and water consumption and decrease costs, and increase sustainability. For restaurateurs – whether full service, casual or quick serve – there are some of the greatest opportunities for cost and consumption savings across energy, water and waste. For Shari’s Pies, attacking these opportunities has been one of their biggest success stories yet!

  • Energy reduction 12% and water reduction 35%

The presentation addressed one of the most frequently asked questions I am asked, “How do you start?” I’m pleased to get to share some of those secrets with you. View “The Energy & Sustainability Advantage: How Shari’s Pies Found Sweet Success” presentation.

Don’t have time to flip through the presentation? Here are a few highlights of the four key ingredients that Shari’s added to their winning recipe:

A motto to live by: “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”

As a small but mighty team of one, Jodenne partnered with ENGIE Insight to serve as an extension of Shari’s, leveraging the Expense and Data Management and Portfolio Benchmarking solutions. This allowed the company to measure and benchmark their water and energy use. By having one source to track multiple invoices from multiple vendors they were better equipped to identify savings opportunities.

Energy is usually a restaurant’s largest line item.

Audit to Uncover Your Opportunities

Identifying opportunities resulted in 14 SWEEP (Shari’s Water and Energy Efficiency Program) projects, from gas broiler retrofits and LED lighting to smart irrigation meters and heated dipperwells. For the first project – broiler upgrades – Jodenne approached the executive team with all the data she needed to make her case, having already even completed some of the groundwork (such as getting a head start on identifying a project vendor). By simply changing the orifice size on the gas grills, and transitioning from six burners to four, they immediately reduced BTU output by 35% and reduced overall natural gas use by 10%.

Leverage data to identify which project upgrades will make the most impact, and tackle those first.

Take Advantage of Utility Rebates

Two of Shari’s biggest projects – the broiler upgrades and LED lighting upgrades – leveraged utility rebates to make the return on investment more appetizing to Shari’s executive team. By working with utilities to create custom rebates, Shari’s saved 35% to 70% of the project cost. Many utilities offer their business customers rebates for a variety of measures, from lighting to high-efficiency kitchen equipment.

On average, our clients qualify for rebates comprising 30% of the cost of eligible energy efficiency investments, which also shortens the simple payback period.

Train & Motivate Employees

Motivating employees starts in the C-suite: When the leaders of the company are on board, then employees will embrace resource reduction efforts and help drive success. At Shari’s, saving water and energy is a part of every employee’s job from their first day of training. Every new employee watches a video on energy conservation and then takes a test at the end to earn an Energy Saving Certificate, as well as a free Pie Shake. Veteran employees are also motivated to renew yearly certificates. A bi-monthly newsletter continues to facilitate awareness of best practices and progress toward goals.

When you adopt a strategic energy plan as part of your company’s core values, expectations are built into every aspect of operations, creating employee ownership and pride in their efforts.

Companies that take strategic action to reduce resource use can cut costs and differentiate themselves in a crowded arena. Shari’s success begs the question for all restaurants – Are you achieving your greatest savings?

Craft your own Sustainable Resource Management Journey, today!

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