Restaurateurs have a lot on their plates. Those plates can be pretty expensive, too.
By Charles J. Bonfiglio
There are ever-present wage pressures; volatile food prices; staffing issues; and increasing rent and lease payments.
The last thing you need is a problem with the sun, but window film can help stand between you and the center of the solar system.
Many restaurants today feature designs that are open and airy, illuminated and accentuated by large windows. Whether those windows face a parking lot or a panoramic mountain view, they present problems. Guests can get slow-cooked, literally, by ultraviolet rays. Glare can make menus hard to read. And there’s always the party, no matter how packed your place may be, that demands a new table because they feel downright flambéed.
Windows can have a serious effect on your bottom line, too. In summer, the constant beating of the sun can set your utility budget on fire as your air conditioning works overtime. Even in winter, sunlight can fade fabrics and furniture and even carpeted or hardwood floors.
Restaurants with displays of food or candies are also contenders for solar window film. Succulent desserts can turn to mush — even in a cooler — if exposed to direct sunlight. The same can be said for window displays at bakeries or convenience store eateries. The sun can literally melt the food where it sits, as well as rapidly hasten the expiration date.
Drapes or blinds are an option, sure, but that adds a whole new maintenance headache for your staff. Cleaning blinds on a regular basis is time-consuming and keeps staff from tending to other tasks. Dust-covered drapes aren’t exactly appetizing, and they too fade quickly in the glare of the sun.
Window films, however, can help you take a stand against the mighty sun while boosting your bottom line.
Average restaurant electricity costs are about $3 per square foot, and about 85 cents per square foot per year for natural gas. About 75% of energy costs go toward refrigeration, lighting and kitchen equipment. Depending on the climate and region, air conditioning can account for almost 20% of energy costs for a typical restaurant. In colder regions, heating costs can chew up more than 22% of annual utility budgets. Window film can keep the cold in, and the heat out, or vice versa depending on the time of year.
Window film has exceptional value in the summer and warmer climates: It can reduce heat penetration by 80%, and can eliminate nearly 100% of harmful UV intrusion.
In the winter, however, it has the reverse effect — it holds heat in the building. Windows account for as much as 75% of energy loss, so they are a prime target for energy conservation solutions. Window film also helps reduce heating and cooling imbalances in restaurants, and lowers the peak load on which many utilities base their rates.
Reducing energy costs by just 20% a year could mean some $5,000 in annual savings for a 15,000-square-foot restaurant. In an industry that operates on profit margins of only a few percentage points, such savings can quickly equate to increased profit.
The application of solar window film — once the seemingly sole province of car windows — can immediately begin building that margin. Window film can reduce energy consumption by 30%. Couple that with other conservation measures, and the tint will pay for itself quickly. Some government and utility energy conservation rebates are often available in some areas, so that will further compound the savings.
Reduced energy consumption and increased profits are not the only benefits window film can bring to your business. Here are a few other reasons your restaurant can benefit from its application:
- Ambiance: If diners wanted to be sun-blasted during the summer, they’d sit outside. Window film dims natural light, creating a cool and welcoming environment for restaurant patrons. Window film also lends an air of privacy to diners, especially if your restaurant is located on a busy corridor with gawking passersby. It does not, however, limit your patrons’ enjoyment of the outside scenery.
- Security: Window film can hold together glass and prevent shattering to limit the risks of flying glass shards should your windows break. It’s no substitute for hurricane shutters, but owners of restaurants in storm-prone areas can also rest assured some window film provides an additional level of protection from flying debris. This feature also limits the intrusion of the elements should a break occur.
- Vandalism Prevention: Some solar window film formulations can also make it easier to clean graffiti from your front windows or dissuade defacing in the first place.
These are just some ancillary benefits from the application of window film to your restaurant windows. The main motivator is saving money and, in turn, boosting your bottom line and freeing up time and resources to continue building the best business under the sun.
— Charles J. Bonfiglio is the CEO of Tint World® LLC, the largest independent franchise chain of retail window tinting, mobile electronics, auto accessories and appearance centers. For more information, visit www.tintworld.com.