How Do You Know if You Can Trust Your Utilities Broker?

Trust is the foundation of all successful, mutually beneficial relationships – especially in business. When you know that you can entrust someone with a unique set of skills, qualifications, and talents to complete a challenging, complex task, you can rest assured knowing that your problems will be solved and you will not be taken advantage of in some capacity.

However, in the world of utilities, there is a simple problem that complicates the relationship between many clients and their utilities brokers: commission. By taking commissions, your utilities broker can hide from accountability, provide inferior service, or even negotiate contracts that are far more advantageous for them in terms of commission collected than for you, who should be getting the absolute best possible deal.

Do you know exactly how much you are paying for your utility management service?

You wouldn’t buy something without knowing exactly what you’re paying and what your money is getting you. As such, it shouldn’t be acceptable to pay for the services of a utilities broker when neither how much you’re paying, nor what they are doing for you, is clearly defined. To make matters worse, anyone can call themselves a broker, as there is no legal requirement or regulation one must hold to qualify for that title.

If your company is considering bringing on a utility broker, or is currently working with a utility broker, these are just a few of the major issues that you should be considering as you build and regularly reassess this business relationship.

What does good utility broker service look like?

With that in mind, what does good utility broker service look like? Your utility broker should be thorough, dedicated, transparent, experienced, and knowledgeable, with a proven record of successes for their clients. They should also be fully independent, which helps you rest assured knowing that they are working on your behalf – and not a utility provider’s.

At the bare minimum, your utility broker should proactively manage and monitor your energy and water contracts, as well as billing.

Typical utility management services include:

  • Procuring competitive contracts built around your specific needs
  • Confirming that all invoices are free of errors
  • Correcting for overcharges
  • Producing energy reports to help inform your business decision making process
  • Utility budgeting and tenant billing

Additional services on top of these can include:

  • Keeping a watchful eye out for energy issues
  • Informing you of any changes in policy or potential upcoming issues that may affect your service or what you pay for it
  • Advising you on new ways you can save money

If utility management is consuming huge amounts of your time – and you’re often finding yourself correcting invoices, needing to address sudden and unexpected issues in your contracts, or having to communicate on a regular basis with suppliers – then your service is likely inadequate.

If you’re having issues with your utility broker, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you feel frustrated with your utility broker?
  • Have their recommendations, as explained, worked for you in the past?
  • Do they meet the expectations that they set?
  • Do they arrive on time for scheduled meetings?
  • Are they well prepared?
  • Do you understand them clearly when you speak with them?
  • Are they transparent and forthcoming with any information you request from them?
  • Do you ever worry that they may prioritise their company’s own interests over yours?
  • After your contract was locked in and they collected commission, did you never hear from them again? Have they charged you additional fees beyond what was outlined for minor services?  

If yes, it may be time to look for a new utility broker. As you embark on this search, we recommend asking yourself these questions:

  • Do they seem competent?
  • Do they have a history of completing similar work for other clients with a successful track record?
  • Do they have case studies and testimonials to show their authority in the field?
  • How many years have they been in business?

Transparent charging gives confidence that your deal is fair

Regardless of your situation, it is important to remember this: no matter how your utility broker is paid, transparent fees are the ONLY way to properly evaluate both whether you are getting your money’s worth and if your utility broker is trustworthy.

Completely transparent charging is the only way to know exactly what your utility broker is collecting from you – or from a utility company they work with – and to determine the value of their services.

 

Clifford Talbot Partnership will broker the best deal possible because they provide their services under a completely transparent fixed fee agreement and, unlike the majority of utility service brokers, do not take payment from utility companies. (Yeomans)

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Find out how much you are paying in commission

If you’re questioning the value of your utility broker’s services – or trying to verify exactly how much commission is being paid from your accounts then follow this simple process:

1) Ask your broker to complete and sign this template (giving your supplier permission to disclose commission).

2) Send the completed letter that your broker signs to your suppliers using draft email / letter

3) Calculate how much commission you are paying over the course of a year or send in the details to us and we will advise you.

Don’t pay more than you need to

Almost certainly you are paying something towards the cost of your broker service; whether this is hundreds or thousands of pounds will depend on the broker you use and the service they provide. Irrespective of how much you are paying there are a number fundamental questions you should consider if your broker is paid via commission.

You’ll be able to quickly tell if you may benefit from a second opinion, or the opinion of a fully qualified utility management account executive. You may be able to save a significant amount of money, negotiate a more effective contract, or simply receive service from a provider who pays greater attention to detail and better understands your business’s unique needs.

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