In the UK, two-thirds of UK businesses have switched their business energy supplier at least once from 2013-2018. This can result in significant savings for your business, but, with over 100 domestic and non-domestic energy suppliers in the UK, it can be difficult to choose which is best for your small business.
As well as this, over one third of businesses worry that something will go wrong if they switch, and state that it can be too time consuming, or too much hassle.
Therefore, we’ve put together a quick guide to help determine some key factors to consider in your search for the right business energy supplier.
If you are considering switching business energy supplier, your priority may be switching tariff to get the best value deal for your business. With UK businesses re-opening their doors and building back from the struggles of the pandemic, price may be an increasingly important consideration when switching business energy supplier. Particularly now, where energy prices have increased in the market following the pandemic.
This may be especially key for small businesses, where 62% of smaller businesses consider energy as a significant cost to their business. In fact, Ofgem’s most recent ‘state of the market’ report estimates that microbusinesses still lose out and pay on average twice as much for gas and 30% more for electricity than the average across all business segments.
Ofgem suggests that this is often because they are on their supplier’s basic default or deemed contracts. This can occur when your fixed-term tariff has ended, and you haven’t shopped around for a new one, or you’ve moved and not agreed a new tariff or contract for your property. Therefore, it’s important for smaller businesses to engage with their supplier, or potential suppliers, in order to get the best deal.
This could also be because your current supplier is not giving you their best possible rate when renewing your contract. Sometimes, energy suppliers won’t reward loyalty, and will instead charge you a higher price for renewing with them (compared to a new business switching to them). Therefore, if you are coming towards the end of your contract, it may be worth shopping around and comparing business energy suppliers. This way, you can see if your loyalty is being recognised and reflected in the rates offered by your current supplier, before “locking in” to another contract.
However, whilst cost is an important factor for any business, looking at this in isolation could present certain risks. For example, you may be compromising in another area, which may result in higher costs or wasted time down the line, such as poor customer service or long wait-times.
So, below we have discussed some other important factors that you may want to consider alongside price when switching your business energy supplier.
How to secure a competitive business energy tariff when switching energy supplier:
Aside from the initial price quote, one thing that can keep your business energy tariff competitive is having favourable payment options.
For example, some tariffs offer business owners greater control over their energy management, such as through flexible payment options. This could include having the choice of when and how often you top up your energy balance, helping you effectively manage your budget, as well as save money.
This could also include the different payment options that are available. For example, you may prefer if you can see the amount you are paying for your energy before your payments leave your account, rather than having a regular amount taken each month.
As well as this, certain technologies, such as smart meters and energy usage apps, can work hand-in-hand with certain business energy tariffs to save money for your business. For example, through smart metering, you can ensure that you’re only paying for the energy that your business actually uses.
How to look for favourable payment options when switching energy supplier:
As a business, there are certain things that you may expect from an energy supplier, such as easy-to-understand billing and being able to contact your supplier if you need to. So, customer service is one area you may not want to compromise on. As well as this, poor service could result in hassle for you and wasted time for your business. Therefore, finding out whether a supplier has good customer service in advance of switching can be very important.
Ofgem reports that the overall proportion of customers reporting to be satisfied or very satisfied with their supplier has decreased from Q1 2020 to Q1 2021, particularly amongst medium and large suppliers.
One area that particularly worsened was customers’ experience on how easy it is to contact their supplier, where only 54% found contacting their supplier fairly easy or easy. Therefore, before switching, it may be worth considering the contact options the supplier has available. For example, online live chat via their website, or seeing if they have a dedicated energy app, could be a quick and easy form of contact.
However, in certain situations you may prefer picking up a phone and talking to someone. Some UK business energy suppliers only offer digital contact options. If you’re needing to speak to a human and are unable to, this can cause some frustration. Therefore, it may be worth looking to see if potential suppliers have a contact number available.
Another area that has decreased since Q1 2020 is customer satisfaction with regards to billing. Whether you’re wanting to have accurate bills, understand how your billing works, or have full transparency over your billing, ensuring that your energy supplier has an energy app may help. For example, with an energy app, you will have 24/7 access to your billing, energy usage and payments, and can easily view everything in one place, with no unexpected surprises.
A key test for the level of customer service offered by the business energy supplier may be how the supplier first deals with you when discussing your requirements or offering a quote. For example, you could consider whether there was a long call wait time, or how friendly and helpful you felt the customer service team were.
Or – if you want to gauge the service level before engaging with the supplier, review sites such as Trustpilot can help. Here, you can see the “Trustscore” (rating out of 5 stars), and you can read genuine experiences from current and past customers, which can then help you make better choices. As well as this, you can see whether the supplier is asking for reviews (positive or negative), how quickly they reply to reviews, and how they deal with negative reviews. These factors can give you reassurance that the reviews are genuine and unbiased.
How to spot excellent customer service when switching energy supplier:
There are plenty of time and money-saving opportunities for businesses if they can adopt the right technology. For example, whilst some people might prefer to do everything manually, such as submitting their own energy readings, a forward-thinking company might have better options available. If you’re considering switching your business energy, now may be a good time to consider how technology can help save time and money for your business.
Smart metering is one technology that has several benefits for businesses, which can cut overheads and improve efficiency. For example, smart meters accurately track your business’ energy usage and send the readings directly to your energy supplier, providing your supplier with consistent and correct readings. This means that your business will only be billed for the energy it uses, with no extra effort on your behalf.
However, whilst most energy suppliers have smart metering options available, the benefits of smart metering can be maximised if the supplier has an energy usage app. For example, an app will give you the tools available to accurately monitor your energy usage, such as through graphs showing your business’ energy usage by each meter point.
As well as saving money through reducing your energy usage, this can also help put your SME on a greener path. By seeing exactly how much energy you're using in relation to your business’ tasks, this can help you be more conscious of when you're consuming more gas and/or electricity. By reducing your energy consumption, you can lower your business’ carbon footprint – doing your part for the planet.
How to spot a technology-focus when switching energy supplier:
Overall, switching business energy supplier to get a more competitive tariff doesn’t mean that you have to receive second-rate service or technologies as a result.
Remember to check each area to make sure your business is striking the right balance between cost, service, and technology, as this could save you time and money in the long run too.
Whether your priorities are finding a good value-for-money deal, having an excellent customer service team on your side, or ensuring that the right technologies are in place to make energy management simple, your business doesn’t have to sacrifice one area for another.
Valda Energy can offer your business a competitive tariff, with flexible payment options, and suitable for businesses of all credit scores. When you switch to us, you will benefit from our friendly customer service team, UK-based customer call centre, the latest smart metering technology and our bespoke energy usage app.