We’re now just over a year and a half into the water market being open to competition, so which smaller and medium sized businesses are gaining from its plus side?
Businesses in England can now choose their retail service company. This is the company that does the billing, meter readings, and customer services, and it’s the company you pay for the water you use. Retail service businesses, like Water Plus, are independent from the water wholesalers who are the regional water companies still responsible for getting clean water to your business and taking the wastewater away through their networks.
In their Quarterly Market Review Q1 2018/19, the water market operator, MOSL, reported that only 5.8% (156,150) of supply points had switched. This has risen to 175,828 in their recently published Q2 report.** It sounds a small number, but when the water market opened in Scotland, switch rates stood at just 2%, five years after market opening.
Supply points represent each individual water supply going into business buildings across the country. Where businesses have more than one property they have multiple supply points, so the number of companies taking advantage of the market change is actually lower than the 175,828 supply point number but this number continues to grow as businesses see and hear about the benefits available.
Research by the Consumer Council for Water (CCW) in February 2018, found that awareness of being able to choose your retailer for sole trader and micro business is 36% and 37% rising to 49% for medium sized businesses†. This, of course, makes sense, the bigger your company, the more water you’re likely to use and the more you may see it as an important business cost. You might also have someone who is more focussed on utilities if you have a bigger business, larger or multiple sites.
Should we be surprised at the uptake in the market? No, probably not. Let’s be honest, water and who is providing your retail services isn’t the thing to get most excited about in your business – but it’s definitely worth further consideration.
Also, if the retail service water market follows a typical product lifecycle, then we’re only at the introductory stage, appealing to the early adopters.
Well, for us at Water Plus, it’s businesses in the manufacturing sectors in England that have been active in taking our contracts and switching to us. We’re also seeing interest in businesses in the hospitality sector.
For these companies, where water is a critical part of the business process and consumption generally higher, it’s no surprise water is much more front of mind.
Even if it’s just water for tea and toilets, there may be savings to be had. And not just from a better price. Being more water efficient – and keeping an eye out for leaking water from pipes at your site - is a great way to save costs too.
*Based on manufacturing companies in England who have spent at least £2,000 (annually) since signing up to a new contract with Water Plus in 2017. These companies have saved an average of £300.
Source: **mosl.co.uk; †ccwater.org.uk
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