You’ve got to save every penny as a small business – so keeping an eye on the bills and knowing when to switch is important…
There are a lot of things to love about running a small business – the thrill of securing a new contract, the joy of a successful sale and the pleasure from being a good boss to your employees. Handling utility bills, though, is not usually at the top of the list.
But it’s an important area and one that, if handled properly, could help you save hundreds of pounds a year. So make sure you’re doing it right…
Let others do the work
The best place to start when looking to switch utilities are comparison websites. These can give you a good idea of the offers available, how much money you could save and which companies you should be targeting.
But before you click to switch, take a step back and wait. While these sites are useful, they won’t provide all the information you need, or even every possible deal – just think of them as a starting point.
Have your figures
Once you have a few companies that look like they could offer you a good deal, you’ll need to go to them prepared. That means knowing how much exactly you’re using.
Your old bills should give you these figures in energy units. You can use how much you currently pay as a guide, but it’s better to have the details of actual energy used for a more accurate quote. As a small business, knowing exactly what you’re going to pay, and that it won’t change, allows more accurate financial planning.
It’s also worth noting what plan you’re currently on and what you’re being charged so you can compare it to new packages.
Be prepared to wait
Watch out for price rise announcements from the big six energy firms. Once one goes up, the rest usually follow. After the first price rise, think about switching before the others rise and select a long term fixed option – this will keep you on the lower price for a longer period.
It’s also worth switching in low demand times – like spring and summer. If you wait until winter, heating will be on everyone’s minds and the sales people will hit their targets easier. This means they’ll be less likely to offer you a deal.
On the other hand, you will be using more power over winter, so you might want to switch just beforehand to get the better deal before your energy consumption goes up.
While it’s handy to be able to do it all online, it’s also worth phoning around as you’re more likely to get a better deal. It’s one of the few areas of modern Britain in which haggling is allowed. This means you should be prepared to walk away if the deal doesn’t suit you.
And if you do get quoted a good figure, but want time to consider it, ask them to record the quote and give you a reference number so that you can return to it at another time – otherwise you might have to start the haggling process from the start when you go back.
It’s also worth talking to your current provider. If you tell them you’re leaving, they might well match the best offer going, saving you the hassle of changing.
Be wary of freebies
Getting something for free is great – but often if a deal comes with something for free it’s just to distract you from the fact that you’re paying more in the long term. If the free gift is worth less than the additional cost of the contract, it’s not really free.
But if you’ve got the contract at the price you want, and have seen that the company offers certain free gifts, it’s worth trying to get it thrown in when you’re haggling.
Read the fine print
Before you sign on the dotted line – or click the ‘submit’ box – read the fine print.
This should be common practice as a small business owner with all contracts. With energy contracts, look for things like any fees for leaving your contract early or whether they’re allowed to raise prices at any point during your contract and by how much.