Are EV Charging Stations Worth the Investment?

Are you looking for new ways to attract key audiences, including customers, prospects, employees, and investors? Are you trying to differentiate your brand and stand out from the competition? Do you want people to stay at your restaurant longer and order more? The migration to electronic vehicles (EVs) presents a great business opportunity for restaurants, allowing you to entice key stakeholders – and drive specific behaviors – simply by adding charging stations in your parking lots. 

If your restaurant hasn’t yet developed a strategy for attracting key audiences with electric charging stations, you should.

The EV market experienced explosive growth in 2021, which is projected to continue into 2022. In January, Tesla reported $5.5 billion in 2021 profits for their EVs – more than six times higher than its 2020 earnings. Zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) will account for 70 percent of new passenger vehicles globally by 2040.

The spike in EV sales is due to a few key factors. Historically high gas prices are pushing consumers towards EV options. Several states – including California – are moving towards EVs, and plan to stop selling gas-powered vehicles by 2035. Additionally, growing numbers of new EV models – and government sales incentives – are sparking consumer interest. Experts predict that the EV market will more than double by 2027. 

As more people jump on the EV bandwagon, restaurants should:

  • Embrace the EV trend. Consumers’ needs will change as they transition to EVs. No longer will they quickly fill their tanks at gas stations and convenience stores. They’ll need a safe, comfortable place to charge their EVs – and something to do while they wait. Give them charging stations and a reason to stay (delicious food, great service, and a comfortable atmosphere) while their cars are charging. 
  • Attract consumers, employees, and investors. As EV sales increase, so will the demand for EV charging stations. People (especially millennials) are increasingly interested in sustainability and want to support brands that are aligned with their values. Demonstrating your commitment to eco-friendly practices – like supporting EV owners with convenient charging stations – can attract customers and prospects, as well as potential employees, who often prefer to work for an eco-friendly company. This important differentiator can help you attract staff for your restaurant during the ongoing labor shortage. Increasingly, sustainability is also a critical factor for potential investors who want to align with brands who are doing the right thing for their employees, community, and planet.  
  • Be aware of marketplace changes. Historically, consumers had very few choices when it came to filling up their cars: gas stations or convenience stores. Moving forward, they’ll be able to charge their EVs at a wide variety of businesses, who will compete to attract consumers. Restaurants, shopping centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, and other community locations are all thinking strategically and adding charging centers to increase traffic and sales. Since consumers will now have choices about where to charge their EVs – and what to do while they wait – this is a golden opportunity for your restaurant. It’s wise to add (and proactively promote!) onsite charging stations.
  • Differentiate yourself from the competition. You already provide delicious food, exceptional customer service, and an inviting atmosphere, right? Now it’s time to really set yourself apart from your competitors. As EV culture evolves, people are making dining, shopping, and parking decisions based on the availability of charging stations. Installing EV charging stations gives customers and prospects a good reason to visit your restaurant versus your competitors’. EV charging stations will attract repeat customers, who will know firsthand that your restaurant can accommodate their needs. Also, list your restaurant on apps that help EV owners find nearby charging stations to attract visitors and EV drivers just passing through. 
  • Demonstrate your commitment to sustainability. It’s not enough to just say that you’re committed to sustainability – you must demonstrate your efforts to attract customers, employees, and investors who share these values. For instance, you may have already discontinued the use of paper napkins, plastic straws, and Styrofoam takeout containers to become more eco-friendly. Adding EV charging stations is a smart next step to take in your sustainability journey.
  • Appeal to a desirable demographic. More than 70 percent of EV buyers have a four-year college degree or higher and make $100,000+ per year. Gen X and Millennials, the demographics most likely to buy EVs, have disposable income to spend, and are drawn to ease and convenience. If you make their lives easier and more convenient – providing EV charging stations that they can use while dining at your restaurant – you’ll be more likely to secure their business.
  • Boost “dwell” time. People need something to do while charging their EV, which can lead to them spending extra time – and money – at your restaurant. After eating a meal at your establishment, they’ll have a good excuse to linger and order another drink, coffee, or dessert while they wait for their car to charge. These “extra” items can help increase revenue for your business. 
  • Elevate inspections and audits. Consumers want a clean, safe place to eat (and charge their cars). If you haven’t already done so, ditch manual systems, which can’t provide accurate, comprehensive, real-time safety data. Instead, rely on integrated tech tools for easier, faster, and more accurate inspections and audits. Tech tools can help you identify areas of noncompliance so you can take immediate corrective actions to boost safety and quality. 
  • Improve operations. Ideally, your efforts will drive additional traffic to your establishment. Are you staffed properly to meet this higher demand? Are you ordering proper quantities of food? Are you minimizing waste (and associated costs)? Tech tools can help boost efficiency, reduce waste, staff smarter, as well as improve inventory, ordering, inspections, and more. 
  • Ensure safety throughout your supply chain. It’s not enough to implement strict QA programs in your restaurant. You must also monitor your suppliers to be certain they have proper food safety protocols and structured QA programs in place. Use tech tools to organize and manage supplier certifications. Audit suppliers to ensure they’re compliant before you work with them (and throughout your collaboration). Your restaurant is only as strong as your weakest link, so it’s essential to monitor your suppliers’ safety certifications and QA practices closely.

The migration to EVs presents a huge opportunity for restaurants. As EV ownership continues to grow, there will be a rising demand for safe, clean places for consumers to charge their vehicles. What’s more, consumers want and need something to do while they wait for their cars to charge, so give them a reason to come and stay. Installing EV charging stations is a savvy way for your restaurant to attract key audiences, boost sales, differentiate yourself from the competition, demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, and increase brand loyalty.