Double Your Benefits

How to improve your light and your bottom line at the same time.

By David Morgan

Managing and maintaining lighting in the modern restaurant or retail business goes beyond concerns about overhead and area lighting. New, advanced lighting options are appearing in more and more places within the built environment, adding another layer of complexity to management. But that’s not all bad. New trends are creating a unique window of opportunity to improve both facilities and the bottom line…at the same time.

Creative accent and decorative lighting are specialized examples. These new aspects of design and interior style are likely to fall outside the norm, with unique and varying demands to plan for. Even with more common retail and restaurant (non-area) lighting applications, technology continues to evolve, forcing changes in maintenance and management.

Signage for branding and POP displays are now likely to incorporate integrated lighting and controls that can’t be overlooked. These new features offer “smart” options and connectivity that is met by the technology. Menu boards, wayfinding kiosks and other backlit informational signs are designed, built, used — and maintained in a different manner.

As the light source itself becomes more integrated with fixtures and shelving, and even embedded in construction, new issues arise. The upside is greater flexibility, but product quality — and the question of warranties and manufacturer trust — becomes more important. Fortunately, the current standard of quality and reliability is improved from even the recent past — just in time for the array of options appearing on the horizon.

Smart management is more than just routine replacement of bulbs and ballasts.

The common denominator making this possible is the adoption of LED lighting technology. LED lighting is firmly established as the primary modern lighting design element. This is true in the common retail and restaurant applications outside of overhead and area lighting: display cases, fixtures and customized lighting for product POP scenarios. And it’s also true for backlit signage, as well as new creative interior design and architectural lighting.

And that’s good news! Because LED technology makes sense in so many ways. The “green” factor of long lifespan and lower energy use is hard to argue with. This translates not only into environmental improvements, but actually saves money. Electricity costs are slashed. Replacement costs are reduced. And associated labor to monitor and maintain older technologies like fluorescent tubes is eliminated.

LEDs offer more than just high performance — it’s all about the bottom line.

In these areas — particularly illuminated signage and lit display and POP fixtures — taking advantage of LED lighting is a simple way to optimize efficiency and decrease expenditures. This applies to more than maintenance schedules. Timing for retrofitting or full replacement with the latest upgraded technology should be influenced by improved performance/aesthetics and driven by greater ROI.

Return on investment is clearly the end goal when evaluating capital improvement options. In this case, however, performance and aesthetic, or design features, are also responsible for the growth of LED acceptance. As prices have fallen for LEDs, and quality has increased, the lines continue to blur. At this point, it’s apparent that new construction is LED-based, and existing businesses are rapidly upgrading with retrofits and complete replacements.

Part of this is due to the bottom-line cost-efficiencies of LEDs. But that’s not the whole story. A growing connection can be made between lighting performance and fixture/display design and the bottom line. LEDs integrated into signage and POP displays actually have a positive effect on sales and revenue.

This compound benefit creates a perfect environment — and a window of opportunity — to achieve maintenance and management improvements by integrating LEDs more fully into a business or building. Whether the interest and demand is coming from the facilities management side, or the marketing and sales side of the business, a rare alignment of circumstances places them on the same side.

In other words: a non-zero sum game. A win-win. If there is resistance to “cosmetic” capital improvements, that argument doesn’t apply. Complete replacements and retrofits should appeal to both sides. Because these upgrades can increase revenue and reduce maintenance and management costs…and everyone benefits.

LED light panels for the win.

The rise in popularity of LED lighting is easy to trace, and the upward trajectory is not slowing down. Everyone is on board — accountants, sales/marketing and facilities management. The technology allows new form factors and exciting design options. The custom LED light panel is one excellent example of cutting-edge lighting technology that’s easy to buy into — it brings all stakeholders to the table.

An edge-lit LED light panel is a thin sheet of acrylic with embedded LEDs along one to four of the sides. Light is reflected outward to the face of the panel to create a bright, even glow. This can be used to backlight signage, illuminate shelving and product displays. Depending on the manufacturer, the LED light panel can be made in nearly any size or shape and fully-customizable for creative and practical uses throughout a restaurant or retail business.

The custom LED light panel opens doors of possibility when designing fixtures, displays and signs. It’s unique in its range of possible configurations, and perfect for use in custom display elements for both retail and restaurants. They are also available as a snap frame display or configured for new or retrofits of existing lit cabinet signage.

By finding an LED partner that a business can trust with full replacements and retrofits — one willing to offer expert advice and personal customer support — the process of upgrading standard illuminated signage, displays and fixtures to LEDs is a safe and appealing option. And for the modern restaurant or retail business interested in making facility improvements and revenue increases at the same time, the custom LED light panel is an excellent solution.

 

— David Morgan is an independent contractor for ImagiLux LED and marketing consultant. Connect with Morgan on Twitter: @acetechnica

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