Free smells! It’s not always a good thing…

It’s time to get back to your restaurant. Last week, you were about to open your brand new restaurant.  You poured your heart, sweat, and tears (and life savings) into making this dream a reality.  At the moment that you were about to turn on the lights and let customers in for the first time – disaster set in. No electricity was coming from the grid. How will you ever be able to run a restaurant and recoup your nest egg that you worked so hard to build?

Without electricity, how is this ever going to work?

There is a solution out there that has been used for years to generate electricity when this type of situation arises. We’re not as familiar with it in the United States, because we’re typically not scrambling to solve a lack of electricity problem. But, in many parts of the rest of the world, they’ve become used to designing in one critical piece of equipment.  (Hint: If you look carefully at the pictures from last week, we tipped our hand a little. Go back, and see if you can’t figure out what the solution is to this problem.)

The way to solve the issue of a lack of electricity is to generate your own. And, the equipment most people rely on is a gas-powered or diesel-powered generator.

So, you call up Gene, your local generator guy, and he comes installs a generator for you. You call up Diane, who goes by Di for short, to line up diesel delivery with your new generator. And finally, with Gene and Di’s help, you get to flip on the lights. Customers start walking through the door, your chef is barking orders in the kitchen, your register girl is chatting up customers, and the high school kid is zipping around picking up all those dirty plates.  And just for a moment, you let yourself breathe a sigh of relief…

The generator is producing the electricity you need to run your restaurant, but there’s an unexpected cost associated with it. A couple of days later you start noticing the noise – the hum of a motor that spills all the way into the front parking lot. You didn’t hear it at first because you were so happy to open your restaurant. Then, you start to notice the smell. Every time Di’s delivery truck comes to fill up the diesel tank, it seems like everything smells like diesel fuel for a couple days. But, these are just minor inconveniences. And, every once in a while, you see the generator belch out a little puff of black smoke.  But, it’s just a little puff – that’s not going to hurt anyone. Besides, these are just a few little things – there’s no way that customers are not coming to your restaurant because of these tiny little things, right?

And then, you run into a little more serious of a problem. It’s Friday afternoon, and the lunch rush has just subsided. You’re starting to get bigger and bigger crowds and even have a few “regulars” that are starting come in. Things are looking up. But, as you double check that everything is ready for another big weekend, you notice that the diesel fuel is running a little low. Not a big problem – Di’s always been there for you in the past, so you give her a call.

Clipart by Ron Leishman

“Di, I’m going to need some more diesel.” you say.

“How quickly do you need it?” Di asks.

“I got about ¼ of a tank, so I need some more by lunch tomorrow,” you answer.

After a long pause, Di replies, “That’s going to be a problem. I just took the delivery truck to the shop, and I won’t be able to pick it up until Monday. Can I get you the diesel fuel Monday morning instead? And, by the way, the cost has gone up, so it’ll be 25% more expense than it was last time.”

Monday? Monday! You can’t wait until Monday! 40% of your business happens on the weekends!  And 25% more! It’s crazy expensive as it is! But, you’re stuck. None of the other diesel companies can deliver fuel on such short notice, and all their prices went up by 25% too. No fuel means no electricity, and no electricity means your restaurant is going to be closed this weekend. It also means that the fridge isn’t going to work, and you’ll have to replace all that food on Monday. As you break the news to your staff, you just know this is not going to be a fun weekend.

You just wish there was a better way to generate electricity that would still let you run your restaurant, without having to worry about Di getting you diesel fuel, and just maybe wouldn’t make you feel bad about harming the planet. If only there was a way to do all of this…

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