Commercial SMEs are among the organisations hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic lockdown. Effective resource management  has never been more valuable and ESS Utility can offer several solutions to help SME leaders save money when it matters most.

Current challenges

Since the beginning of 2019, commercial SMEs accounted for 99.9% of the UK business population [1].However they are also among the businesses most vulnerable to prolonged lockdown conditions.

According to a recent Simply Business survey [2], the Covid-19 pandemic has cost the average small business in the UK over £11,000, with some areas being hit harder than others.

On average, SMEs energy bills have risen by over 100% [3] in the past decade. Moreover, the combination of Brexit and coronavirus means that this trend is unlikely to fall anytime soon. However, an exploration of their utilities spending and management could provide firms enough relief to weather the storm.

Outsourcing procurement

Given the open nature of the electricity and gas fuel markets, SMEs have a wealth of options when choosing their supplier and, subsequently, the price they pay for supply. However, many business leaders generally lack the time and resources to commit to an effective procurement strategy. Often opting for a fixed term contract and trading buying power for simplicity.

Largely this is because of the technical knowledge required to understand the changing marketplace and to respond to those changes effectively.

Outsourcing this process turns procurement into a passive form of savings, requiring minimal input to produce significant value. Additionally, active engagement with contract procurement can open up huge savings from switching to a new supplier. According to a Flogas Energy Report, UK SMEs stand to save a collective £1.7bn by switching gas contracts [4].

Fuel isn’t the only market ripe for savings either; the deregulation of the UK water market in 2017 means that businesses can now enjoy competitive pricing for their water purchasing as well.

Getting a procurement service that covers all three of these markets under a single roof would be ideal, since that guarantees consistency in communications across all procurement negotiations.

With ESS Utility, a dedicated account manager oversees your procurement process. Supported by a team of utility experts, they will guide contract negotiations and secure you the best deals possible. ESS Utility deals with only a few, carefully selected suppliers to ensure consistency of service and communications.

High utility bills are often smoke for a fire of inefficiency

Intelligent metering

Business leaders satisfied with their utility contracts might next look to how they use these utilities. Smart metering is a cost-effective means to gain a better understanding of gas, electricity and water usage. While lockdown has halted the great smart meter rollout, its benefits have not diminished in the slightest. The BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) estimate that UK SMEs could save approximately £1.4bn by 2030 [5] and consider them an essential tool in building the net zero economy.

An Oxford Economics study [6] has predicted that the rollout could help SMEs cut their energy consumption by 4-5% per year, saving an average of £230 on bills. Armed with this new data, firms that take a proactive approach to improve their consumption efficiency could see savings as high as 7-15% and £800 annually.

A smart meter provides value in two ways:

  • Securing detailed consumption data presented in an easily digestible format – helping to inform your future utility use strategy.
  • Ensuring reliability of data gathering through an automated solution, particularly at a time when many offices must close and physical readings become increasingly difficult to guarantee.

This reliability is crucial for predicting future utility usage and its costs, as well as supporting invoice validation. The ESS smart meter solution also offers graphs and tables of consumption data. In addition, the solution will send alerts whenever you exceed predetermined consumption levels.

Invoice validation

ESS Utility estimates that 1 in 5 utility bills contain at least one error, however invoice validation can be a daunting task. Businesses often use different suppliers for different utilities, meaning varying billing formats with large amounts of data.

Many business leaders simply don’t have the time to thoroughly check each and every invoice sent to them. This only increases for businesses that have multiple sites with different consumption patterns.

ESS Utility validation includes bill comparison against historic consumption data. Allowing you to spot inconsistencies that indicate you are overpaying. ESS Utility also provides reminders of when bills are due.

Saving with ESS Utility

ESS Utility provides guidance on and can implement each of these processes. Such a service combines procurement, metering and validation services within a single third party intermediary. ESS Utility’s uniqueness comes from the additional benefits offered with each service and attention to customer experience. To find out more about these services and start your own utility savings journey, get in touch.

 

 


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