If you want to see something way cool, check out the hand dryers in the Rehoboth Dunkin’ Donuts.
You stick your hands into the opening and 12 quiet seconds later, they’re completely dry. No need to wipe them on your pants or grab toilet paper to finish the job.
The best part from the perspective of franchise owner Roger Deslauriers is that they are cost effective. They weren’t cheap, but he’s saving money on paper towels, the bathrooms stay cleaner longer and they use a lot less electricity than conventional hand dryers.
The dryers and the infrared sinks that turn on and off automatically are the most visible of a number of environmentally friendly changes Deslauriers and his partner, Richard Demers, have made at their Dunkin’ Donuts franchise.
It all started when they first looked into expanding into Florida. Their general contractor, Art Krebs, asked if they were interested in “green” construction.
“I was reluctant at first,” Deslauriers said. “That is until the talk about saving the environment turned into talk about another kind of green – as in cash.”
Deslauriers has been working at Dunkin’ Donuts since he was 13, when he started helping out at his dad’s stores. He met his future partner and brother-in-law when he was in high school.
Demers took the liberal arts route in college. Deslauriers was all about the finances. When it came to this project, Demers was interested because of the environmental good it would do while Deslauriers was more interested in the bottom line.
“I’m a firm believer in the environment, but I have to look out for the business because I have bills to pay,” Deslauriers said.
When it comes to going green, a lot of small business owners feel that way. About half of those surveyed recently by the National Small Business Association said a lack of cash flow is what stands in the way of becoming more energy efficient. Another 18 percent said the problem is lack of time to do the research or the implementation.
Deslauriers was finally convinced when he saw the numbers. Not only could the franchisees save money on electricity, they were eligible for tax credits and rebates in Florida and Massachusetts. The two states just happen to be number one and two in terms of what they’ll do for businesses adopting energy conservation measures.
The biggest changes were the installation of solar panels on the store rooftops. There were also new energy-saving lights and motion detectors to turn on lights.
The work required an upfront investment, but bankers were interested once they heard about the benefits. “The project pays for itself in four-and-a-half to six years after the rebates,” Deslauriers said.
Given how the economy has been going, it’s probably one of the best investments a business can make right now.
Although the decision was driven largely by dollars and cents, Deslauriers said he likes doing something good for the community.
“We want our customers to be proud of us,” he said.