According to recent research, more than half of small business owners in the United Kingdom have no clue what they actually spend on their utility bills.
In a survey conducted by Utilitywise, a U.K.-based energy and water consultancy, 52% of small businesses in the U.K. reported no knowledge of the overhead they were spending on gas, electricity and water. A third of respondents reported being unable to access data that would tell them how much energy they use.
Small businesses have a lot of responsibilities to take care of, from cleaning carpets to reduce indoor air pollutants, to regularly maintaining HVAC systems and operating equipment. Keeping track of utilities is the key to constructing a budget that allows for all these costs.
Monitoring of utility expenditure is also the only way to find out if there’s a significantly better deal out there, especially when rising water and energy prices account for rising operating costs in 54% of small businesses. So why are so many business owners unaware of them?
As it turns out, over half of small business owners delegate the management of utilities to other staff, and alarmingly, 11% admitted that they didn’t even know whose responsibility it was to track utility costs. Only 17% claimed to handle their utilities themselves.
It seems that many business owners direct their attention elsewhere. Most owners review things like office supplies, broadband and recruitment providers more often than they review their utilities services.
Another factor is likely confusion and frustration. Earlier this year, the Federation of Small Businesses conducted a survey which revealed that 81% of business owners didn’t believe that energy providers cared about their needs, and two-thirds considered it difficult, time-consuming and annoying to switch suppliers.
“Our study shows there is a lot of confusion about utilities amongst small businesses,” Utilitywise’s sales director Michael Dent told Yahoo!Finance. “Misinformation and misunderstanding mean small businesses are suffering because they don’t know how to navigate the utilities markets nor have the levels of consumption necessary to negotiate better prices…Poor buying and management of utilities stops growth and damages businesses’ bottom lines.”
To combat these issues, Utilitywise is launching a service called Energy Alliance to harness collective buying and get small businesses better deals on utilities.