Why Use A Consultant?
It is quite common that when we initially speak to business owners they are either confused about what a consultant actually does or what the benefit is for their business. As a company we are passionate about being open and honest with our clients and we are so confident in our expertise in this industry that we are happy to share with you how and why we are the best root to market. So below we address some of the most common and valid challenges we encounter.
1. Why would I use a consultant when I can do it myself?
This is a fantastic question and the simple answer is…. you can’t! This is not a reflection on your tenacity, negotiation skills or commitment rather a very unfair truth about the way the energy sector is structured and how the suppliers within it operate. The BEC team is made up of individuals who have been industry trainers, contract negotiators, customer account managers and senior sales managers at the Big 6 suppliers- so we have years of experience working for the supplier direct as well as working as a consultant and can clearly identify why using a third party results in more competitive rates for you.
BEC have strong relationships with suppliers built up over decades, we have access to unpublished prices, resources and tools that allow us to monitor wholesales energy rates.
We can read and interpret the gobbledegook on your bill in seconds identifying meter type, consumption, geographical location, AMR facilities and know through years of experience who the main suppliers will be to approach to being negotiation for your business.
The commercial energy market is significantly different than the domestic market. In the domestic market there is a legal requirement for suppliers to publish their rates which means that using an online compare the market facility is sufficient, however there is no such ruling in the business market and therefore not all suppliers publish their rates online- and certainly not their most competitive rates.
We know this industry and the mind-boggling processes that make it difficult for customer to successfully navigate through it themselves.
BEC are experts in this industry and we are passionate about wanting to share our expertise with you.
2. I have used a consultant before and got a better price myself or had a bad experience.
If you have had a bad experience previously with a third party this is a totally understandable concern. Unfortunately the third-party sector is not well regulated although Ofgem the industry regulator is making huge strides in this area and by the end of 2015 we are confident that many of the more questionable companies claiming to offer the same service as ourselves will simply not be able to sustain. In simple terms if you have worked with a 3rd party before who has not been able to negotiate successfully on your behalf or has provided poor service managing the end to end process it is likely they are simply just not the best at what they do! Many of our lifetime clients had been through similar experiences before choosing BEC and when we reflect back we agree that you have exceptional and poor providers in all sectors, but the same as within your own industry it is your products, service and people that set you apart.
For your peace of mind we can conform that all calls are recorded here at BEC for your protection, we have provided industry and sales training to some of the Big 6 suppliers direct, and also to other third parties, who are essentially our competitors in an aim to help raise the overall standards and code of conduct within the industry. There is a recommended code of practice for all third parties and we have followed this since our inception as it is aligned with our company values- we are delighted by the steps being made currently to enforce this practice across all of the sector.
3. How do you get paid?
We welcome this question, in fact we are often surprised by the number of business owners who do not ask. In this industry like any other there is significant variation between the way one company operates and another. It is quite common in this industry to come across a consultant or broker that is acting independently and does not have strong relationships within the industry so all they are essentially doing for you is collating a handful of suppliers published rates for you likely off-line and sharing with you the best they have found. This practice requires no industry knowledge, or influencing skills rather they are simply doing some leg-work for you and saving you time. As they do not have any relationships with the suppliers direct the only way they get paid is by you the customer so it is common they will either ask for a one-off fee or agree to take a % of the amount they have saved you. Other third parties have arrangements with only a few suppliers and are paid significantly more by one than the other which arguably means they are not impartial and direct you towards a supplier which gives them the best renumeration.
Due to the number of questionable practices implored by some third parties we recommend you always ask anyone who approaches you providing this service specifically how they are paid.
In regard to BEC, we are paid direct by the supplier for your business so there is no direct cost to you the customer. We do not have a preferred supplier based on our renumeration and are not affiliated to any one supplier making us truly independent.
It is in our interest to be competitive as if we do not win your business we do not get paid, so you can have peace of mind that our objectives are aligned.
4. We are only a small user so it is not worth the time?
This is one of the most frequent and frustrating responses we hear. With energy costs being the 3rd largest expenditure for any UK business whether large or small it is simply not possible that you will not benefit from a cost saving. As the team have all worked for the Big 6 Energy suppliers for many years we know first hand that often it is the low consuming customers that are paying significantly more than they need to. This population is not aggressively pursed by energy suppliers to retain business, the belief from the customer themselves that they are not using enough for it to warrant their time shopping around only serves to help suppliers get away with treating small users unfairly. An Ofgem report issued in 2014 showed that 87% of small business were paying more than they needed to for their energy supply and if you do not actively shop around I guarantee this is you. We absolutely understand that you have more pressing priorities like running your business, but we implore you to simply provide us with a recent energy bill and let us do the rest. We guarantee you will be surprised by how quick and simple the whole process is and how much money you can save.
5. I am happy to stay with my current supplier.
The idea that all consultants or third parties want you to change supplier is a damaging myth that frustrates all of us at BEC.
It has been perpetrated by a number of poor quality consultants on the market today who are only paid for new business, as they do not have real relationships with suppliers they do not have the option to renew you with them so of course they want to aggressively encourage you to change.
At BEC we believe in doing what is right for the customer, that may be transferring supply for a cost saving, likewise it may be negotiating a preferential renewal rate (not available in the public domain) with your current supplier. There are many reasons why a client may prefer to renew with their current supplier; convenience, good service, multiple accounts under one roof and we respect that.
However it important to recognise renewing with your current supplier is the point at which you are most at risk of being over-charged so let us support you by handling the negotiation for you. It is quick and simple for us, and saves you time playing the ‘renewal’ game of to-ing and fro-ing to get the best rate. Typically we save customers up to 40% off their renewal price, there is no change to your terms and conditions and no cost or contract with us so there is nothing to lose you remain with your existing supplier just on a better rate than you would receive direct.
6. I already use a third party.
Great news, the fact you already use a third party shows us that you already understand that cost and time benefits that our service provides. We wish to be respectful of any relationship you already have in place but do also invite you to receive a selection of quotations from us too. Consultants have different relationships with different suppliers, and access to different preferential rates so the fact you have one person searching the market for you does not necessarily mean that you would receive identical from ourselves, receiving a quotation is free and you are not obligated so there is nothing for you to lose by exploring this option, and it is recommended best practice to periodically benchmark your service provider.