Water is something we take for granted. When you consider the average round trip someone in a developing country has to make for water is six miles (according to data from World Vision), the fact that you are almost never more than an arm’s length away from a water supply is nothing short of miraculous.
And while having water at hand is essential for daily life, businesses rely on water for very specific needs; needs which can come at a hefty price. Here in the UK, we are very lucky to have an open water market, where businesses can choose their water provider just as freely as they would internet or electric. It has only been like this for a few years but has helped create healthy competition between business water suppliers all vying for your business.
Many companies often inherit their water supplier due to the market first opening. They have never thought twice about whether it has been the best result for their business at the time. Suppose you’re reading this right now and have just realised you have never thought about what offers are out there, or whether your supplier is indeed the best for you. In that case, there is no need to panic or overthink things blindly. I’m here to help you, for lack of a better phrase, see where the leaks in your water bills are and what alarm bells to look out for. I’ll look at what services you should expect from your supplier as standard, what charges could be grossly overestimated, and why switching business water supplier may be in your best interest.
Alarm Bell: Your bill makes no sense
I wouldn’t say I like it when bills or statements come in the post, and a one-page bill comes with five pages of notes and references. Water bills should be clear cut and easy to read. You may never have taken notice of yours, but now I’m talking about it, go and grab the last few months’ worths of bills and look at your charges. Check for patterns and make sure there are no sharp rises you can’t account for (more on that next) and that you know what each charge on the bill accounts for.
If something doesn’t look right or you have no clue about, get on the phone right away and ask your water supplier. It could be the case they have a charge applied on your bill which shouldn’t be there and could be backdated for months. It could be that key information is incorrect and needs changing. Your supplier should be eager to help. If they seem reticent or even not bothered about billing problems they created, consider looking elsewhere.
Alarm Bell: Your tariff never changes
Speaking of bills not making sense, does your current tariff make sense? This point would be of particular importance for businesses which are occupying a space formerly held by a completely different kind of business. For example, let’s say you have office space in a unit formerly used for manufacturing. There’s an almost 100% certainty your business will be using much less water.
If you have inherited a tariff, rather than having it evaluated in the first instance, your bill will be way too high. Get your provider on the phone and ask them about your tariff, specifically their rationale behind any increase in tariffs or why they have estimated a specific rate, out with any seasonal fluctuations.
Any reputable provider will be happy to see about getting your tariff changed. And don’t be afraid to talk about locked-in rates. Some business owners get scared having to stick with a rate on any bill but coming to an agreement with your provider for a fixed six or twelve-month tariff could see long-term savings. When this happens, it is the only time when your tariff not changing is a good thing.
Alarm Bell: You have never had an audit
When is an audit a good thing? In my books, it is anytime an audit saves you money. Water audits are the one thing I recommend every business gets and should actively push your supplier to help with. You will be surprised just what can happen when you have an independent auditor come and visit your property. They can spot the intricacies that are hiding in plain sight.
You might think an auditor is only there to find leaks (which is a great thing). Still, they can also help highlight wastage amongst staff, where water-saving devices should be installed, if programmed processes should be optimised and if the quality of water coming into your premises is up to scratch.
Alarm Bell: Your meter has seen better days
This last alarm bell is for anyone in an old building. Water meters are typically something that are out of sight and only looked at whenever someone has to provide a seasonal reading. If your business is on estimated bills, where you are credited or debited accordingly after providing periodic readings, ask your supplier if they can provide a new water meter.
A new digital meter will not only measure water usage more accurately, but most will connect to your local Wi-Fi network to provide readings immediately for you and your provider. That means no more second-guessing bills and will typically pull your average bill down. It is only in the rarest of instances where installing a digital meter sees bills on the up.
That’s all I have to say about alarm bells around water bills suppliers and switching. At the end of the day, it will always come down to whether your supplier works best for you and, most importantly, that you are getting the best deal possible from what you’re paying for. If you’d like to know more about changing supplier in the UK, check out castlewater.co.uk. They are helping businesses discover that there’s more to business water supply than just a bill.
For more financial advice for your company, check out the latest finance posts from the site here.