For public sector organisations, switching any kind of supplier can be a lengthy and complex process – so before a contract goes out to tender, the procurement team needs to know that there’s a good reason to do so. When it comes to water and wastewater, they might question – is switching their supplier really worth it? Max Langford, commercial director at SES Business Water, provides some advice.
England’s non-domestic water market has been open since April 2017, which means that an extra 1.2 million businesses and organisations now have the opportunity to choose their water and wastewater supplier, just like they can choose their energy supplier. In less than a year, around 100,000 supply points have switched, and so organisations are already seeing the benefits of an open market.
However, many organisations are yet to make the switch, which could be due to a general lack of awareness among businesses that the water market is now open to them. Even those that are aware they can switch their water supplier may be unsure why they should consider it – and if the benefits aren’t clear, then they’re unlikely to engage with the market.
Making the switch
Public sector organisations aren’t alone in facing decreasing budgets – businesses across all industries are looking for ways to reduce their costs, and switching their water supplier could be a good way to do so. While cost will vary by region, there are savings to be made by switching, so it should pay for organisations to compare suppliers.
Before choosing a supplier, organisations should also think about the services that they really need from a supplier. Whether their main priority is cost saving or a simpler way to manage their water, they should be able to find a supplier that can meet all of their needs. Many suppliers offer services that can help organisations to become more water efficient, for example, and by taking advantage of these services, they could reduce their water bills even further.
Multi-site organisations could particularly benefit from bringing all of their sites under one supplier. They could cut their administration costs significantly by choosing a supplier that offers a consolidated billing service, which should give them a single bill for all of their sites. A single bill should also provide multi-site organisations with a simpler way to manage their water account, as they should only need to make a single payment for all of their sites and they may find that it’s easier to monitor their consumption.
Each supplier will offer a different range of services, and it’s ultimately down to the individual organisation to decide which blend of services will best meet their needs. As competition increases between suppliers, we can expect to see innovative products entering the market, so organisations should look out for those suppliers that are offering their customers new ways to save or manage their accounts.
Getting a better deal without switching
While switching suppliers is likely to be the most straightforward way for organisations to improve their water services, it’s not the only option. Organisations that are generally happy with the services their water supplier provides may want to stay with their existing supplier, but this doesn’t mean that they have to miss out on getting a better deal. Many have successfully negotiated with their existing supplier, gaining lower prices or additional services as a result.
Engagement is key
For the open water market to be as beneficial as possible for non-domestic customers, organisations of all sizes and all sectors need to engage with the market. Whether they choose to switch or renegotiate with their existing supplier, it’s important that organisations make the most of their power to choose, as this will prompt retailers to enhance the services they provide to their customers.