Dealers: Should you turn off those lights?

When I was querying dealers a few weeks ago for a package of stories about surviving the recession, I was reminded of the benefits of simple controls.

To help shave costs, Stacey Gillman Wimbish, president of Gillman Cos., told us that her family's Texas dealership group reduced the number of staffers authorized to spend company money.

Lots of other dealers told us they saved using another time-tested measure: turning down the heat and shutting off computers and lights at night. A week or so later on a long car ride, a Toyota store along I-75 in Tennessee caught my eye. It was late, well past business hours. But the lights were blazing bright on the Toyota lot, making it a beacon in the darkness.

My first thought: Whoa, how much is their utility bill? My second thought: But I bet the people who regularly travel that stretch of I-75 remember their name and location.

Maybe that's money well spent.