Chris Moyer is the Manager of the Conserve Initiative for he National Restaurant Association. The Conservice Initiatives is an extensive program that provides resources for finding ways to lower energy, water and waste in restaurants. We spoke with Chris about the rapid growth of his program, the initiaitve’s involvement in the NRA’s annual conference and the importance of being responsible about one’s energy consumption.
Ben Lack: We’re with Chris Moyer of the NRA. Chris is running the Conserve Initiative for the National Restaurant Association. Thanks for giving us some of your time.
Chris Moyer: Oh, no problem. Glad you guys are here. What Conserve is, Conserve is solutions for sustainability. So what we want to do is we want to be an educational resource for the industry. To really touch on those things than any operator can do. One of our biggest opportunities as an industry is energy efficiency. We use five times more industry than any other retail segment. So the opportunity to make a huge impact, not just to the environment, to your bottom line exist. So here in the Conserve Solution Center at this year’s show, we’re very fortunate to have companies like Holt and Eco-5 Energy Management Systems join us. Sempra Energy, Glacier Energy. So we get really focused on this and provide solutions for sustainability to those in attendance. We’re very proud of a new program, We Have Greener Restaurants, which offers over five educational videos that highlight these best practices, show you the return on investment from these things. And sometimes it doesn’t cost you anything to start saving. So we really want to get that there and in the hands of every operator possible. We have over ninety best practices that we’re starting out on. We only start with five different categories. And you’ll notice we have over ninety best practices, over forty of them are in the areas of energy and water because they’re so intertwined. You can’t have one without the other. It’s always interesting when you show people and you explain to them that the energy industry uses more water than the any other industry. And the water industry uses more energy than any other industry. So they’re two peas in a pod. You attack both and realize huge savings. Not just to the environment but to your bottom line. And everybody’s going to do things if you show them how much more powerful they can be from that.
Ben Lack: So how long has the Conserve Initiative been going on within the NRA?
Chris Moyer: Well, we started our conserve efforts actually here from the show of May of 2008 when we launched the conserve.restaurant.org website. We put all the information out there free. We put that there. And then last year we built upon it. And then this year, we’ve been fortunate enough that they gave us our own space in over four thousand square feet in which we’ve been able to bring different operators, different types of exhibitors that are able to offer solutions for sustainability, whatever they may be. The biggest thing that we’re just trying to get it out there is make one step, make one change, and keep building upon that. I mean, we have a great exhibitor, iSafe Lighting, who advertise LED lights. Whether it’s LEDs or CFLs, it’s better than incandescents. We’re still making a step forward. And that’s the biggest message that we’re trying to get out there is you can’t do everything, but you need to start doing something. And just make that one step to get going.
Ben Lack: And what’s the feedback been from the people that are in attendance?
Chris Moyer: It’s been so awesome. If there’s been a negative critique, it’s we need to do more. So that’s just one of the best negative critiques you can get, and we’re really looking forward to what we’re able to do next year at the 2011 NRA Show. Even throughout the year, we’ll be working with the American Culinary Federation, their national convention in August. There are a number of things in the state association level in their trade show. So we’re just happy to be involved, and we’re just taking every opportunity we can.
Ben Lack: So talk to us about what types of things you’ve learned from this show that you say, “Oh, my goodness. I’m going to add this to the next show or for initiatives going forward when the conference actually ends.”
Chris Moyer: We need to make this bigger. We need to get the signage out there that really shows what the return on investments are, where the opportunities are, really highlight the financial value. One of the great things I learned actually when I was out in the Northwest at a trade show is quantifying how much you’re able to save and how much new sales volume you need to generate. Because we only make four to five cents on the dollar. I mean, so for every dollar that we make coming in, in order to realize it, we only get four to five cents out of a quarter and realize a profit of a dollar, we have to generate twenty dollars in sales. So by saving a thousand dollars on a prerinse spray valve, where just about any operation can do when you switch to a low-flow prerinse spray valve. Realize a thousand dollars, that’s the same as generating twenty thousand dollars in new sales. That’s a Mother’s Day at a very nice restaurant. So the opportunity is there. Just trying to get operators to engage and create those “ah-ha” moments. And really show them where the savings are. Not just to the environment but to the wall. If we can get everybody on board if we make it more profitable.
Ben Lack: Well, we interviewed one of the franchise of a Denny’s yesterday about what he was doing to lower his energy consumption. And he was telling us about why he had a personal initiative for trying to make his restaurants the way that they were. So I’m curious from you. Why are you doing what you do?
Chris Moyer: I’m doing what I do, honest to God truth, I really care. I mean, I’m an operator. I’ve been doing this since I was eight years old. I served pizzas at a local bowling alley and taught kids how to bowl. You know, so I’ve been doing this ever since I was a little kid. I was fourteen years old. I started at McDonald’s, and throughout the time that I’d been there, I worked in all different industry segments. Just seeing the opportunities that exist, and I’ve been blessed to work for the National Restaurant Association which I had the opportunity to make such a large impact to the industry. And I’ll coach and train. Nobody’s perfect. We all make mistakes. I know I make them all the time. Probably go through my training, Outback’s got some great stories to tell you about the errors I made. But I learn from there. So as Edison said about the light bulb, I know ninety-nine ways not to do it. I do know one way to do that is very successful. And one way is saving energy. And it helps you so much. And it’s something we need to do.
Ben Lack: Well, Chris, congratulations on the inaugural year here at the conference and much success to continue pushing out the initiatives going forward. We look forward to staying in touch.
Chris Moyer: Well, thank you very much, and just thank you for taking the time to join us this year. And we hope to see you again next year.
Ben Lack: Absolutely.
Chris Moyer: Thank you.