How to choose an energy consultant?

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Yes, we’re an energy consultant so you may expect us to try and sway you towards choosing amber energy.

But the truth is that’s just not our style. So, this is a completely unbiased approach to finding the right firm for you.

Why are we doing this? Well, amber was set up to provide an open and honest approach to business energy and, ten years into our journey, this is still one of our core values.

Also, there’s a huge number of energy consultants in the market, thousands probably, so how do you find the best one?

Here’s everything you need to make an informed decision when picking an energy consultant.

Know why you want to appoint a consultant.

This is far more important than most people give credit for.

What’s your end goal and what do you hope to achieve? 

Are you looking for someone to advise you, manage your energy, implement procurement, deliver energy efficiency, provide bill validation or deliver a full energy management plan?

Some energy consultants will only be able to help you with certain aspects, while others can tackle everything energy related. Understanding “why” will go a long way when refining your search.

We’ve put together a blog for “why you need an energy consultant” if you’re interested in finding out more.

Talk to other businesses

We may be shooting ourselves in the foot here, but don’t listen to energy consultants that tell you how great they are – ask other businesses about their experiences!

This is a brilliant way to avoid bad consultancies.

If a client has been ripped off, or had a bad experience in the past, then they’re almost certain to tell you. On the other hand, if they’ve had positive experiences then you may get a couple of good recommendations to follow up on. Nothing quite compares to these unsolicited testimonials when it comes to finding the truth about a firm.

Do they have experience?

How long has the consultancy been around? Do they have a strong team with plenty of experience behind them? Most importantly, do they have case studies that highlight their work?

A good case study will show what they’ve delivered to their clients and provide an understanding of their market knowledge. You should get an understanding of what kind of savings they’ve achieved, where they’ve innovated and how efficiencies have been driven forward.

Do their clients stick with them?

The energy industry can be very fickle and it’s unusual for clients to stick with their chosen consultancy for years on end, however, it isn’t unheard of. That’s especially true when that consultancy continues to deliver great results.

Finding out how long their clients have been with them can be tricky, but you should be able to find clients who are advocates of that firm. This may be covered when asking other businesses about their experience, or by looking through the case studies, but loyalty should definitely be taken seriously when considering an energy consultant.

Are they independent?

You want the best prices and the best service, something not easily done when you’re stuck with a small sample of suppliers. Having access to the entire market provides a plethora of choices when it comes to your business energy contract.

Independent energy consultants will have strong connections with all energy suppliers and will be eager to approach new ones that come on the market. They’ll also be actively working with suppliers to create bespoke tariffs and aiming to get the most competitive rates available.

What services do they offer?

It may not be applicable to every business, but choosing an energy consultant who can offer a wide range of energy management services can put you in good stead in the long run.

One of the most popular examples we see at amber energy is the addition of our bureau service to our award-winning energy procurement. This extra service ensures that our clients aren’t just getting the best price on their energy but stops them from overpaying due to incorrect bills or errors.

If they offer energy efficiency services that include monitoring and targeting, you will be alerted early on if there are changes to your use. We’ve found that early identification can reduce waste and could save you up to 30% of your annual consumption.

Similarly, these energy efficiency measures can help reduce the cost of your energy in the long run, often paying for themselves within the first few years of operations.

Are their costs transparent?

You should know exactly what you’re paying for your energy, in pounds and pence. This might sound like common practice, but unfortunately that’s not the case. We’ve seen a wide variety of approaches taken by some energy brokers to cover up the amount of commission they make, from folding it into the unit rate and providing a pass through to simply charging ad-hoc bulk amounts throughout the length of the contract.

At amber energy we are always transparent on our commission. We want you to be able to look at your contract and understand exactly what you’re paying for each aspect of our service. Not only is this the correct way to operate, it’s the best way to show our true value.  

Are they delivering the right contract?

There are lots of ways that your energy contract can appear. For example, a pass-through contract can make the unit rate appear much cheaper, but that’s because you just see part of the costs. If you weren’t aware that this is what you were being sold, then your first bill can come as a bit of a nasty surprise.

Similarly, some energy brokers may try to add additional services to your contract, increasing the rate you pay or tying you into the contract for longer. If the contract isn’t explicit and transparent in its terms and agreements, then walk away or re-negotiate the contract.

Can they help meet compliance?

Energy legislation and compliance standards have come in thick and fast over the last few years and being able to keep up with them is really important. There’s a two factor approach to this, as being compliant can help save you money on your business energy but not achieving compliance could land you with a hefty fine.

Is your energy consultant able to help you hit standards like ESOS and ISO50001? If they don’t cover this, then do you have additional resources in place to ensure that you aren’t caught out?

Finally, can you get in touch with them?

Never underestimate the importance of being able to get in contact with your energy consultant. The markets could change, your usage could rise or fall quickly, or you could be approaching the end of your contract. If you can’t easily talk to your consultant about your business’ energy then you may end up paying more than you need to.

Before signing a deal, try to call them – see how quickly they answer the phone and how responsive they are to any requests you have. You may also want to look into their SLA for responsiveness to emails and if they answer your questions suitably.

All of these are very important in forming a strong relationship with your energy consultant.

What next…

Now it’s the research phase.

Understand your needs and find firms that can help you meet those requirements. Go through all the points above and see if that consultancy is applicable and if not, how they intend on filling these gaps.  

This should provide you with a shortlist of energy consultants for you to approach with a Request for Proposal. Once this has been done, the rest is up to you. Make sure that the proposals you receive understand and meet your requirements and that they hit every point we list above, plus everything you’ve included in your RFQ.

 If you have any additional questions, or would like to invite amber energy to tender, you can see all our contact details here.

 
amber newsJoe HickmanGuides