Market deregulation causes chaos
Deregulation is always confusing for consumers. That’s nothing new. But here’s a secret:
It’s confusing for people working in the industry as well.
Once deregulation is imposed on an industry, the established suppliers begin to restructure. If you’ve ever been through a corporate restructure, you know how frustrating and confusing that can be. Departments switch focus from one week to the next, communication is never as clear as it should be, and very few people ever seem to know exactly what they’re doing.
On top of all that, they have to adjust to a whole new commercial reality. Suddenly, they have to compete. Marketing has to step up, and pricing has to come down … without compromising business operations.
Consumers aren’t the only people who struggle when deregulation begins.
How water suppliers are coping with deregulation
Over the past few weeks and months, water suppliers have been restructuring with deregulation in mind.
Some water suppliers have decided they don’t want to deal with the retail arm of their business in a deregulated market. In other words, they don’t want to deal with customers. Instead, they’ve chosen to concentrate on water infrastructure.
Others see big financial opportunities in water retail. New water suppliers are springing up from nowhere. Existing water suppliers are renaming their retail divisions. Some water suppliers are even attempting to buy retail divisions from other water suppliers.
It’s a new market, and new developments are happening every day. In the past week alone, we’ve seen:
- Severn Trent attempting to buy Dee Valley Water
- A completely new water retailer preparing to enter the market
- Scottish water supplier Business Stream revealing plans to open a new office in southern England
As a consumer, you can’t stay on top of all these changes. Just how do you get to grips with water deregulation when there’s so much up in the air?
Making sense of a brand new water market and its benefits
Right now you probably fall into one of two camps:
- You know that the business water market is about to deregulate
- You have absolutely no idea what’s going on
We recently commissioned independent research into business knowledge of water market deregulation and found that only 25% of businesses know what’s about to happen. Even fewer businesses know about the potential benefits.
The benefits are simple:
- You will be able to switch your water supplier whenever you want
- Water suppliers should start to improve their customer service
- You should be able to make significant savings on your bills
But there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Beware of “experts” in a brand new market
- Beware of completely new and unproven water suppliers
- It’s hard to know who you’re dealing with when existing suppliers are rebranding
- You may not be able to rely on online customer reviews to help you decide which supplier to use
You’ll see a lot of “expert” advice and opinion online over the next few months. You may start to get some phone calls. You might even get a few letters!
Just keep in mind that these “experts” may not know as much as you think.
Our advice to businesses: do nothing (yet)
We specialise in business utilities. We work with energy suppliers every day, and now we’re working with water suppliers, too. We’re pushing them every day to give us information on their new business water prices – and we’re going to make sense of the chaos.
Here’s the situation:
- There are 16 water suppliers in England
- 13 of those suppliers are preparing to establish retail water businesses
- Six new suppliers currently hold licences to trade
- Only one water supplier has published prices so far
That’s why we’re advising businesses not to commit to a water contract yet.
A source of impartial information and advice
If you want to know what we know, when we know it, you can sign up to Water Watch. It’ll keep you up to date with all the key developments in the water industry, so you can make strong and informed cost-saving decisions for your business in April 2017 when the market opens.
Water Watch will tell you:
- Prices from water suppliers (when they become available)
- What your current water supplier is getting up to
- Brand changes and company renames – so you always know exactly who you’re dealing with and who you can trust
- Any other information we think will help you make the right decision for your business