What’s the value of a ‘good’ broker/agent/consultant?

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If you haven’t noticed by now, there are a lot of people in the “energy” business eager to help you find a better deal. Customers tell us they get 100’s of calls, each one offering a better program and a lower price if you sign up today.
I venture that over 95% of the energy calls received are from a call center which are hired guns that are only dialing for dollars in search of new business acquisition. Their business model is set up to make money on signing up new customers, not the ongoing account management of your program.
If you’re looking for more in an energy advisor, then the following should help you screen energy calls to identify the 5% of the energy calls you should investigate further.

 

Here are some observations and/or questions that may help you evaluate and/or eliminate some of the noise just by understanding how to spot the call center:

 

If you can hear all the other telemarketers in background….tell them to put you on their do not call list and hang up!

Period…

The caller represents that they are “with the utility and wanted to make you aware of”……….

Think back, utilities don’t call customers. They communicate via notices on their bill and if they need to terminate service they just show up.

The caller is pushy about getting you to provide information from your utility bill, like your account number, your rate, etc.

Selling over the phone has to be simple. The simplest comparison is price and that is why the call center wants to know your rate. Anyone can offer a lower price but, will it be an apples to apples comparison to what you have?

If the caller can tell you a price without knowing your usage, or by saying your current agreement is up for expiration….run!

Most call centers are pricing out of the next start month. If your contract expires in 12 months and you switch, you will be exposed to early termination fees.

Our advice to customers is if you can’t eliminate the call from one of the above comments, then consider requesting more information from the energy broker/consultant, they should be happy to send it to you.
Now, understand that not all energy advisors are created equal. To narrow your search for the trusted energy advisor that best fits your needs, consider the following questions:
Ask yourself do you understand the energy market, do you understand how cost components impact your price, do you know what to look for in a supply agreement?

If you answered NO; then narrow down your search to brokers /consultants that are independent of the supplier, meaning they represent multiple suppliers. How long has the firm been managing the energy needs of businesses?

Ask what their broker’s fee is?

If they say they don’t charge a fee, that the supplier pays them…you should run!

Their response is the half-truth. True, the supplier pays the broker, but it is the broker that determined the fee that the supplier includes in the price.

For this reason, transparency is of huge importance as they should be more than willing to document their fee and put it in writing.

How long has the firm been managing the energy needs of businesses?

Longevity, especially in a service industry, supports strong customer service. Customer retention is a sign that the broker/consultant is demonstrating strong customer service and market knowledge.

What is the company’s scope in both service and product offerings? Are they willing to come and meet with you, face to face to explain some complex topics?

That should provide you with a level of comfort that they are not in this for a quick “sale” but are interested in working for you as an integral part of your business.

Ask questions to get comfortable with the energy advisor, it’s your most important decision.

Since most customers don’t really have the time/desire/knowledge to keep abreast of the energy market, selecting the right energy advisor is a customer’s biggest decision. Make sure fees are transparent and documented and they work to develop an energy strategy that services your needs based on your business, risk tolerance and corporate objectives.

 

You want to make sure your broker/advisor is on your side and working for you. The true consultants or advisors will ask questions before ever asking to see/review a utility invoice. They will be able to explain what types of programs may fit your needs, and options to consider.

A true advisor will be able to update you on any upcoming regulatory or policy changes that will impact your business. Selecting the right broker takes time, do you homework, selecting the wrong broker could cost you more than you think.

 

What’s the value of a ‘good’ broker/agent/consultant?
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