Last week I explained how to reduce business rates and this week I turn your attention to another fast rising fixed cost: water rates. Paying for water may seem a drop in the ocean compared to some of your other outlays - and fluidity in the market to switch between suppliers is still a pipe dream - but you'd be wrong to dismiss it as a foregone cost conclusion.
At the start of the month (to coincide nicely with a hosepipe ban for many) businesses were hit with an inflation-busting average increase on their water bills of 5.7%, with some areas up as much as 8.8%. That's on top of the 4.14% they've already gone up on average each year for the past five years.
One silver lining of the hosepipe ban, though, is that the headlines focus attention on reducing water consumption, whether at work or at home. You should take advantage of this momentary sea change in attitude by installing water reduction gizmos. They can range from the free (like a plastic water bottle in the cistern of your loos) to a longer-term investment (such as installing smart technology to regulate the frequency of urinal flushes).
You may even want to go one step further by having a water industry expert audit your bills for abnormal consumption or historic overcharging. We estimate that one in four businesses are paying too much because of undetected leaks and billing errors such as unnecessary standing charges and invalid 'trade effluent consents' for liquid waste produced by your business.
We've known of cases where a business is simply being charged for a neighbour's water as well as its own. Depending on the size and type of business you run, detecting these kind of mistakes can equate to rebates worth thousands of pounds.
In fact, mistakes are so common-place that business models are built on them. For example, at Make It Cheaper we have a partner who will guarantee to discount your water bills by 10% (based on your previous 12 months spend) and fix that price for up to four years, regardless of any increases from your water company. They'll even look to make further savings by paying for water efficiency products - the savings from which they'll share with you on a 50/50 basis.
As always - if anyone needs signposting on this and other ways to cut business costs - our advisors are on the end of a freephone number and more than happy to help.