As the world transitions toward electric transport, offering reliable charging to a burgeoning market of EV owners is a lot like offering a lush oasis in the middle of a desert. Unlike tending to that oasis, though, today charging station management is a job that can be handled from anywhere, and at any time. But only if you have the right tools under your belt.
If you're considering providing EV charging as a CPOs (Charge Point Operators) or you wish to understand why charging station management solutions are essential to enable smooth charging, stay put.
How do EV charging stations operate?
Charging stations are utility businesses at heart, providing a service and charging users for the ability to use it. In this case, that service is access to electricity for EV drivers who need to charge their cars.
For CPOs that means there’s an underlying operating cost: they need to be able to pay the energy bills tied to the electricity they provide and still make a profit. That requires the ability to add a premium to the raw costs of power consumption – a premium that is then paid by each driver who comes to charge their car.
But that’s far from the only operating cost: CPOs need to own or lease the land as well as purchase a number of physical charging stations. And as an addition comes the electric installations, electrical panel must be configured to handle the load from the charging stationsconnecting the charging stations to the grid, with potential power capacity reinforcement. This is of course on top of the systems and management software it takes to intelligently run the chargers and the services that meet the EV drivers - which we will have a closer look at below.
So, operating charging stations is about more than just managing profit and expenses. The EV charging space is an ever-evolving one that requires businesses who own or operate charging stations to adapt, adjust, and optimise continuously.
On a daily basis this can mean being reactive and being on hand to troubleshoot any hardware or software issues that drivers might face when charging. But today this also means offering new digital features for more convenient charging - such as the ability to provide smart EV charging features, load management and market-adaptive prices.
How do you maintain an EV charging station business?
Maintaining a successful EV charging business is essentially about enabling smart and simple charging for your users. This implies that you can operate you charging network with ease and do smart charging station management. This way drivers won’t face hardware confusion, experience payment hassles, or have to wait for available chargers.
Smooth operations, and thereby charging services, are enabled by the platform or systems and software used by the CPO and an app for the EV drivers which can be a white label app.
If your looking to start an EV charging station business you should keep an eye on how the systems and software you plan to use accommodate key facets such as:
Sometimes things break or get buggy – that’s just a universal truth with both hardware and software. Running a successful charging station business means being able to troubleshoot quickly and make fixes in your network at a timely manner. A future-facing charging station management system can flag when stations go down in real-time, letting CPOs act quickly, even remotely. This can be done through an API Platform which enables integration with various software solutions to create efficient energy management.
Location- and User Management
With features that allow you to easily adjust your charging station’s location information and settings, and add users and create user groups, you’ll be able to operate your services smoothly (learn more about location management). Smart tools such as adjusting the public availability of your charge points and providing discounts for closed user groups will ad flexibility and enable extra revenue growth.
This is especially useful for CPOs that have the wish to reserve the chargers for e.g. employees during the day and provide lower prices to them, while still benefitting from enabling public availability outside working hours.
With Spirii, CPOs can benefit from these tools including charge keys and vouchers for discounts or payment reimbursement.
Easy access for EV drivers
You’ll need to offer easy access to your charging points and services for EV-driving customers. A user-friendly interface such as an intuitive charging app or e.g. charge keys for initiating the charging session, could be solutions at hand. No matter what you prefer, easy access to your services and including payment for the charged kWh are a must, if you wish to provide charging successfully today.
You’ll need to ensure you’re making a profit in excess of basic energy costs. Traditionally, that would involve setting a fixed charging rate well above fluctuating electricity costs, but some platforms, including Spirii, enable Dynamic Pricing, where CPOs set a profit margin that allows the cost-to-charge to fluctuate alongside the market rate for energy. That way they can always ensure they’re running at a profit, while drivers will benefit from lower rates at off-peak times. Effective charging billing systems ensure that EV drivers are accurately billed for their usage, while also allowing CPOs to manage tariffs and generate revenue.
Data and analytics are an important part of maximizing any business’ revenue and profit; charging stations are no different. With the right insight at hand, you’ll be able to spot trends around usage and costs that can help inform business-building decisions.
The world of EV charging is booming, so it’s only natural that a successful charging station business will want to expand and scale alongside the industry. Doing so sustainably requires building a business on a software bedrock that’s built to grow, with automated processes including for e.g. billing and invoicing. There should be built in options for scaling, to say the least.
Essentially, running a charging station business means running a well functioning charging network that enable charging without obstacles.
What is a charging station management system?
A charging management system is a software platform that underpins the physical hardware required for EV charging. What that means in practice is a software solution that connects charging infrastructure – including any associated information around usage and consumption – to a front-end tool that allows business owners to change settings, fix faults, adjust pricing, and keep track of their users.
Spirii’s charging management system, for example, allows CPOs and charging station owners to design, build and scale a charging business that suits their specific needs.
That starts right at the beginning, with help around the kind of offering our clients want to provide, and which hardware they’d like to use. Then, once everything’s up and running, our cloud-based platform is managed entirely through Spirii Connect, a software suite that offers everything CPOs could need to manage the day-to-day running of their charging sites and stations.
- Real-time and historical usage analytics
- User information and accounts
- Charge keys and discount vouchers
- Dynamic Pricing options for keeping ahead of the energy market
- Flexible payment options and instant invoicing
- Live charge station status, with troubleshooting and 24/7 support
- Reliable MoM growth and scalability, with 99% uptime
In other words, a software-based charging management system like Spirii brings everything together into one user-friendly and intuitive platform, which turns the potentially complex world of charge site management into a simple and powerful experience.
Is charging station management profitable?
Petrol cars aren’t long for this world – the majority of the world’s biggest markets are, over the next several years, phasing the internal combustion engine out in favour of electric. That means that the demand for reliable charging stations is only set to expand, and to do so massively.
For entrepreneurs looking to make the most of this demand, charging stations are an incredibly savvy business investment. While there are some obvious setup costs to consider, EV charging is a business model that can become a powerful and low-maintenance revenue stream. This does of course require using future-facing, intelligent tools and systems for managing your charging network, services, and your EV charging business.
Crucially, charging station management - or being a Charge Point Operator or -Owner - is a business model that can reliably run in profit. And with new features such as Dynamic Pricing, which allows you to set a margin that keeps things above the energy bill bottom line, you’ll know your users are always paying more than the fluctuating cost of the raw electricity.
We actually have a whole article exploring the demand for EV charging stations, the setup costs, and the potential returns. You can find that right here.
Ultimately, the secret to profitability and growth here is having a powerful platforms or software solution working behind the scenes to transform what would otherwise be a complicated business into something easy to manage – and easy to grow.