Utility start-up Brightwater believes the deregulation of the water market in England will lead to better service for SME’s on both sides of the border
Original article published on insider.co.uk 30 August 2017 by Philip Gates
The deregulation of the water market in England spotlights the costs of vital utilities, says Rich Rankin, managing director of Brightwater Services.
Almost a decade after Scotland opened the market there are still savings to be made for companies. But in an industry troubled by poor customer service and high costs, many remain unaware that they could switch provider.
Rankin established Brightwater with business partner Roger Green 15 months ago to address the issues facing companies trying to save costs. Since launching, the company has secured contracts worth £1.6m per year in sectors including retail, hospitality and manufacturing.
As a young, growing SME ourselves we understand the needs and priorities of our SME customers – quite simply a competitive price and customer service that is efficient, honest and transparent
“After learning about the market and experiencing it for ourselves, we began to recognise that many of our clients had the same doubts about some of the big contenders,” says Rankin.
“Hidden costs, difficulty in switching, bills that were incorrect and customer service that was so bad that our clients couldn’t get issues dealt with quickly – or sometimes, at all.”
He adds: “At Brightwater, our focus is on helping customers use less water and save money.”
As a young challenger to the big corporates already in the market Brightwater believe being nimble and responsive to customers’ needs has helped them stand out. But a recent survey published by the Consumer Council Water highlighted that only 43 per cent of SME’s in England were aware they could switch provider.
“We’ve found that almost everyone we speak to has cost saving opportunities,” adds Rankin.
“We’re raising people’s awareness of the ways water is used in the workplace, and how easily it can be wasted, and recommending simple solutions that are easy to adopt.”
More than half of the companies currently operating in Scotland are English but Brightwater is one of the few water providers operating in the Scottish water market that is wholly independent with an HQ in Scotland.
Although Scottish water providers will be keen to look at companies that have premises on both sides of the border, Brightwater are intent in cementing their reputation in Scotland as the supplier of choice for SMEs before looking south.
“Companies that are already operating in Scotland bring with them experience of working within a deregulated market and the challenges that they’ll face,” says Rankin.
“There is quite a lot of data inaccuracy in the market, which leads to incorrect billing.
“When we get new customers onboard the team review historic data to try and identify any possible anomalies and how these can be remedied. “
With question marks over the reliability of data in England, Brightwater intend to wait for the English market to mature to resolve this issue.
“But entry into the English market remains very much part of our growth plans for Brightwater,” adds Rankin.
“There is a general perception within utilities of poor service – we want to challenge this by positioning Brightwater as the utility company that cares about its customers.
“First and foremost, we see ourselves as a customer service business we always work in the best interest of our customers, listen to their needs and keep the promises we make.
At Brightwater, our focus is on helping customers use less water and save money
“As a young, growing SME ourselves we understand the needs and priorities of our SME customers – quite simply a competitive price and customer service that is efficient, honest and transparent.”
Rankin believes the English deregulation could be a precursor to consumer choice, giving householders the opportunity to choose a preferred supplier. He says: “If this were to happen I suspect we’d see some interest from large energy companies looking to add water to their proposition.”
Whatever the changes ahead, the company’s mantra remains simple: “Our goal is to develop the workplace culture ‘Let’s not waste a single drop.’”