Today is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day, and four years ago SDG&E hired me to help with Power Your Drive, a new initiative based in Southern California. Their mission statement was to install more EV charging stations for electric cars in their territory, and it was my job to train their employees on how to sell these charging stations in various business, municipal and residential situations. To say the least, this had an impact on me both professionally and personally. For one thing, my family almost immediately thereafter wound up purchasing two electric vehicles!
Now that the charge (pun intended) toward increased vehicular electrification is on, I frequently get asked for tips on how to sell this energy solution in various situations. Here is what I’ve discovered from my research and experience, which may help you get started and overcome some objections.
- You have to preemptively address the myths of EV. Potential customers will have questions about how long it takes to charge an electric vehicle, how long a charge lasts, and other concerns they might have about purchasing this service. These things need to be addressed beforehand, and the only way to do that is through extensive research and preparation. It is also recommended to contact people who have already installed those stations and ask about their experiences in order to gain insight and potential testimonials.
- EV charging stations are more than a “nice to have.” Why would anyone be open to installing electric vehicle charging stations on their property? Of course, this depends on which segment you’re selling to. For example, an office building installing EV charging stations has the opportunity to offer a differentiating amenity, creating some excellent PR in the process. It’s sending a message that it’s investing in sustainability and attracting forward-thinking employees. It also makes it clear that if you have an electric vehicle, you’ll be provided with what you need in order to commute to and from work free of “range anxiety.”
- Providing complimentary EV charging is cheaper than you might think. It’s common to get some raised eyebrows at the idea of “giving away free electricity.” As I was prepping for this training engagement, I was a bit surprised to learn that the amount of money subsidizing each charge is the same as the cost of a K-cup coffee program. I’m sure most of us have worked in a place or patronized a business that has offered free coffee, as well as free parking and free charging stations for your phone! So, why not offer a charge for your car? And think about it... In a retail setting, having EV stations in the parking lot can be a great way to increase foot traffic and sales revenue for your tenant, which could support higher percentage rents in situations where the tenants pay the landlord a piece of their gross revenue in addition to their base rent per square foot.
- Electric vehicles are becoming more affordable. A common misconception is that people in middle or lower-class neighborhoods won’t be interested in EV charging stations. The truth is that electric vehicles are becoming increasingly affordable (especially with innovate lease programs and government incentives to help fund the purchase). You may need to remind a prospect that not every model out there is as expensive as a Tesla. People are purchasing more affordable vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, the Chevy Bolt, the Honda Clarity, the Fiat 500e and so on. What’s more, an electric vehicle is less prone to needing maintenance and repairs, so it will cost less in the long run. These benefits bring me to my next point…
- Realize that this is a rising 21st century need. I have encountered apartment building owners who have had to turn away renters because they were seeking on-site vehicle charging and their properties didn’t provide them.
- There are plenty of segment-specific benefits linked to EV charging stations. Whether you do research on your own or subscribe to our Segment Guides, you’ll discover that there are a myriad of ways that EV can benefit a business or public service. As mentioned above, when it comes to retail, where a customer parks has some bearing on which businesses they will frequent. There’s a fairly substantial amount of evidence that when people charge their electric vehicles near a retail space, they tend to window shop, run errands and stop somewhere for a meal. This is a win-win situation: the customer gets to charge their car while the retailers who provide it get some extra business. Likewise, governments are actually seeking EV possibilities because our new administration has plans to use them for the postal service and other departments. You might be offering exactly what they’re looking for.
- Installing EV charging stations have financial benefits if you take the time to do the math to catch a prospect’s attention. Let’s return to the apartment building scenario and say that they charge $1,500 in rent for a one-bedroom apartment. If a property manager had to turn away five tenants because they didn’t have charging stations, they lost a potential of $90,000 in rental income. Using the simplifying assumption for the moment that those five incremental rent checks were almost entirely net operating income, you might divide that $90,000 by a cap rate of 6% and be surprised to find that the landlord lost the potential to create an additional $1,500,000 in appraised value for the property. Prospects often have stronger feels about fear of loss than promise of gain. When you show a prospect what they may be losing, it can be more effective than projected savings or technobabble about your product.