A few weeks have now passed since the water market opened in England and we’ve been busy helping customers to benefit from switching. It’s a good time to consider how the market will change as more businesses switch suppliers, so what can we expect to see in the next 12 months?
We talked to our commercial director Max Langford to find out his predictions for the first year of the open market.
1. Do you think many businesses will switch suppliers in year one?
It’s early days but we have been delighted with the number of enquiries we have had across all sectors of the market, from SMEs to large corporates. Whilst it took a while for businesses to switch when the Scottish water market opened in 2008, we think that businesses in England will see the benefits that competition has brought to Scottish businesses and be motivated to switch.
There are also some different drivers for switching in England - for example, multi-site customers who no longer want to deal with multiple suppliers. So we’re hoping that first year switching levels will be much higher in England.
2. By switching, will businesses see their water costs fall immediately?
There will be benefits for most customers. Customers shouldn’t expect costs to fall dramatically – initial savings will probably average around 2-3% - but they should see some reduction in their bills straightaway. In addition to this, those with multi-site portfolios should also benefit from administrative savings associated with dealing with one supplier and consolidating their billing.
3. Do you think water efficiency will become more of a priority for businesses?
I do think that businesses will be more focused on becoming as water efficient as possible and we’re certainly supporting all of our customers in their efforts to save water.
Although cost savings are likely to be low at first, if suppliers also help their customers to reduce their consumption then businesses should see a real difference in their bottom line. Businesses that are looking to switch would be wise to start by reviewing their bills and consumption; they can then work with their supplier to become more efficient. There are so many simple ways for businesses to save water, from small changes to employee behaviour to installing smart meters so they can monitor their water consumption online, that every business should be able to save water and money.
4. What do you think businesses will be looking for when choosing a water supplier?
Aside from lower water bills, which is likely to be the first thing businesses look for when making the switch, I think most businesses will be seeking a high standard of customer service from their supplier.
What’s most important in a supplier will depend on the individual business, but there are some things that businesses should expect from any supplier. We believe that most customers will probably be looking for a simple way to manage their water account, so that they can get on with their day-to-day business activities. That’s why we’re making it as easy as possible to switch to SES Business Water and we offer services like our online customer portal.
We expect that multi-site businesses will be particularly keen to take advantage of the ability to switch all of their sites to one supplier. Our customers are able to completely streamline their bills, as we’ll send them one bill for their water and wastewater across all of their sites, so they only need to make a single monthly payment. It’s services like these that will be most valuable to customers looking to switch.
5. How do you think the new market will change the products on offer?
We think that the changes to the market will prompt suppliers to offer their customers more innovative solutions to better meet their needs. The increased competition in the market means that customers now have more influence than ever over suppliers, so we hope that there will be an influx of new products so every business can find a solution that suits them.
We’ve already got the ball rolling with our Wholesale Tracker Plus product, which enables businesses to access wholesale water rates without becoming a self-supplier. Businesses that choose this product pay the lowest cost allowed by the Water Act and one charge for the services they take from SES Business Water, giving them total transparency when it comes to their water bills. It’s this kind of innovation that could really transform the water market.
If you want to join the growing number of businesses that have chosen to switch supplier, talk to our experts to find out how SES Business Water’s services could benefit your business - give us a call today on 01737 785842.