If your business doesn’t consider moving from time to time you are either very lucky or doing something wrong. In the UK, rents, rates and property prices are major overheads for businesses of every kind. Inflated property costs are a drag on the entire economy and minimising them is one of the most effective things you can do to be more competitive and profitable.
Even if you own your premises outright, this is a good time to consider a move. Due to the Covid-19 lockdown and the OPEC oil price war, there is likely to be a rush of business premises onto the market and plenty of good deals to be had. If you can liberate capital and inject it into the business, that is another big incentive.
There are a lot of businesses out there downsizing their bricks and mortar for another reason. During the lockdown, many continued to function by enabling employees to work from home. As a result, they have realised they can grow bigger by shrinking – cutting bills, outsourcing, and using Cloud instead of in-house resources. Whether that applies to you or not, one thing is certain – energy costs are just as big a drain on most businesses as their property costs. Relocation is also the ideal moment to switch business energy provider and plan better energy efficiency.
Use moving to your advantage
Relocating presents you with many opportunities, but one of them is the opportunity to replace your current business energy provider and get all the energy companies competing for your new business. As far as providers are concerned, a moved business is a new business – with everything to play for. They know (or at least believe) that if they can persuade you to switch business energy providers now, they will probably keep your business for years to come. That motivates them to offer you a very good deal.
Let’s be generous – some of them genuinely like the idea that they are helping new businesses get established and will go the extra mile for you if they can. You don’t get that kind of treatment if you’ve been in the same building for years and always stuck with the same supplier.
Even though relocation puts the ball back in the provider’s court, don’t settle for the first offer you get. It might sound generous compared to what you were paying before, but when their customers are a business, energy suppliers expect to negotiate – so negotiate! In most cases, you can get a bit more from them and even if you don’t, they aren’t going to snatch their initial offer away from you. There really is no good reason not to ask for better.
Here’s a tip, however. If you plan to introduce major energy saving changes, don’t mention it to your supplier. The more they anticipate you using the more inclined they might be to cut you a generous deal.
Every business must have considered ways to waste less energy at one time or another. If you weren’t considering moving at that time, it probably boiled down to energy-saving lightbulbs. You put a couple of boxfuls in the cupboard, realised you hadn’t saved a penny and forgot about them entirely. Was that you? – don’t worry you were in good company.
At the same time, you might also have considered a more efficient HVAC system. The reasons those plans usually get shelved include opposition from other departments, worries about general disruption while it’s fitted, and the refusal of the landlord to compensate you for improving the property.
Moving changes the situation. Planning a better energy strategy is far easier when you are presented with a relatively blank slate. The new building’s Energy Performance Certificate will help you calculate the value of energy efficiency improvements. If you decide to go for significant infrastructure improvements, make sure your fitters will have power when they move in.
Top tips when moving premises
Moving is always a lot of work, both in paperwork and physical exertion, but it’s straightforward if you plan it well. When moving a business, timing is the critical issue. You want to keep the business operating without significant interruptions, but if your timing goes wrong and there is an unexpected delay, you are losing a lot of money until you are back online. Delays are your worst enemy so don’t let them happen.
Whether you are going to switch business energy providers or not, getting the electricity or gas supplies switched on ready for your arrival is not something you want to forget about. In fact, you should be double and triple checking that your providers are on track to connect you on the agreed date. Issues with meters are surprisingly common at business premises, especially when there are multiple businesses operating in other parts of the same building or site, so make sure they have all been checked out.
In our experience, there are fewer problems when you switch business energy provider than when you are just transferring your existing contract. A little overlap between two different contracts does no harm, but when it’s the same contract there is more opportunity for someone to switch it too soon or too late, or dispatch their crew too early or too late.
It’s old advice, but sound – don’t forget to record all the meter readings in both premises during your transition period. It is no fun starting up at your new premises with disputes kicking off with previous tenants or previous providers.
If there is a problem, you can usually get hold of an energy supplier quickly using the internet, but don’t take that for granted! A lot of relocating businesses actually try to make their final move over a weekend to minimise the disruption to their daily routines, but some power companies don’t staff their customer service lines after 4.30 on a Friday. That could really leave you in the lurch.
There could be four different energy supply companies involved in your move – your new and old gas suppliers and your new and old electricity suppliers. Don’t forget to have all their contact details stored in your phone! If the new building has no power when you get there, you may not have internet access to find their number. Equally important – make sure you have all the account numbers, passwords and security questions you have set up with them.
They could also ask for your MPAN (Meter Point Administration Number) or MPRN (Meter Point Reference Number), so record those from any previous bills or correspondence as well.
Don’t switch and forget!
Energy tariffs are always changing, so the only way to ensure you continue to get the best deal is to check often. Using FreePriceCompare.com makes that easy. You can automatically home in on the best options in the area you are moving to and contact each energy company with a single click. Energy is a critical overhead that can make or break your business, so make reviewing it a company routine.