Why changing utilities provider doesn't have to be a hassle

By: Jonathan Elliott

Date: 26 July 2011

In a difficult economic climate, small businesses are understandably looking to make savings wherever possible to help ride out the recession. Savvy SMEs can make significant savings on their utilities bills where, on average, businesses can save more than a third on their current outlay – equating to an average saving of £1,121 per year on electricity and £1,230 on gas rates alone.

Each year, small businesses lose close to £2bn by unnecessarily paying over-inflated energy prices. Yet despite this, only a handful of businesses regularly monitor their energy outlay and switch suppliers to receive the best deals.

So why aren’t more companies switching on to the savings that regularly shopping around for the best energy deals can deliver?

Hassle you can do without?

If there’s one thing that puts small-business owners off switching utilities provider it’s hassle. Switching is generally perceived as a complicated, time-consuming process and owners are often too busy running their business to hunt for the best deal.

It’s easy to see where this idea has come from, as our energy providers certainly don’t make it easy for businesses to switch their supply. Unlike domestic users, SMEs are subject to assumptive renewal contracts that only offer a limited window of opportunity to switch suppliers before being rolled over onto a new contract at a higher rate. This means there is an incredibly narrow period (sometimes just 30 days) in which to act – something that’s easily missed by time-poor SMEs. In fact, industry regulator Ofgem has long called for action to enforce measures aimed at simplifying the switching process.

It’s a confusing process and one that’s made worse as each energy supplier has different, and often complex, rules about renewing your business electricity or gas contract with them.

There is another way

While businesses might think switching suppliers can be a hassle, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth – especially if you ask the experts. Specialist advisors can guide businesses through the utility minefield, comparing prices and helping to find the best deals.

We’ve tried to remove even more of the hassle by creating a free online tracking tool to help small firms check when their contracts are up for renewal, as well as an automated notice letter generator to make the process even easier.

Jonathan Elliott is managing director at Make It Cheaper

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