Today we’re going to go off the well beaten path of technology and venture into the much less intuitive fields of comfort and psychology. Just how valuable is air conditioning to the customers in your store? How valuable is it to your workers? And most importantly, how valuable is it to your bottom line?
A cool environment has a lot of impacts on your customers, especially in the choking heat of summer. On the most basic level, a comfortable customer is a happy customer. If they can walk through your store and not be dripping wet, they’re that much more likely to engage in impulse buys or accept upsells and cross-sells. This brings with it secondary bonuses:
- AC attracts customers
- AC can keep them in the store longer
- AC can cause more frequent visits
- A Controlled Environment prolongs the shelf life of your products
This all stems from our desire to be comfortable. We rarely engage in activities that aren’t pleasant. No one skips to the IRS with joy to pay their taxes. Very few people are excited to see the dentist to have a tooth pulled or go to the hospital for a CAT Scan. You don’t want your store to be like that. The hotter and more humid your store is in the summer months, the fewer customers you’ll see. They’ll dread setting foot in the door.
If you think your customers hate an awful environment, just try putting your employees in a boiling hot office under the sun. Those environments are demoralizing, draining, and distracting. None of these things are good for your employees. They’ll dread coming to work, dread leaving the safe AC of their homes and cars, and be out the door the second the clock ticks past five.
If you solve those productivity woes however, you’ll get some very nice benefits. Employees will be more willing to come to work, especially those without AC at home. They’ll be more willing to stay a little late, just to avoid the uncomfortable heat while they wait for their cars’ AC to crank up. The utter lack of noticeable heat or coolness will leave them comfortable, energized, and focused on the work at hand rather than trying to towel off every few minutes.
Happy customers translates directly to increased sales. Happy workers translates directly to increased productivity per hour of work. These factors cannot be overlooked or understated. Getting to the bare numbers however, is a greater struggle. We need to account for different tasks, variation from worker to worker, and individual preference for the environment.
Luckily, we have a world of researchers who’ve worked to quantify the impact of comfort and the workforce. Numbers vary by workload, but a comfortable office can have between a 5% and 20% increase in productivity. In this study call center workers were more productive by up to 7% with a cooler office. And this study conducted in India highlights even greater returns for more physically demanding work. If you’re moving, lifting, and carrying things, you generate more of your own heat, so the cooling effects are amplified there.
If a worker is 10% more productive, you could say they’re working at 110%, or doing the work of 1.1 persons. At the minimum wage level, that increase is roughly work $1,508 in the US. That is a view at the simplest terms and the increased productivity is going to grow as the amount of effected workers does.
This isn’t entirely sunshine and roses. There are challenges to getting an AC System AND all its benefits. You need to find out what temperature is best for your office or store. That may sound silly, but additional studies we looked over while writing this post indicated that just as being too hot is a problem, so is being too cold. An office set to 40 degrees will quite possibly be less productive than one at 80 degrees. Psychologically, it’s better to be too warm than too cold.
The Simple Solution
Get a good Heating and Cooling System, set up some good thermostats, and work with your customers and workers to create the perfect environment for the season. If it’s 90 degrees out, maybe be 80 inside. If it’s 52 degrees, maybe crank up the heat. If you can maximize comfort, you can get massive returns on productivity and customer happiness.