Every small business knows the ups and downs of juggling bills. It can cause headaches and confusion, especially in instances where bills don’t seem to add up quite right. Many business owners view bills as a necessary evil; something you just have to pay up and that’s that.
It surprises me so much that there is one bill, in particular, most business owners, or those in charge of bills, often overlook: water bills. I believe that many people view their business’s water bill as they would their water usage at home, i.e. it is something you need to have all the time, so the price doesn’t matter that much?
If you’ve unconsciously had that mindset, you’re thinking about it all wrong. I want to highlight some of the ways small businesses can save on water bills. I’m writing from personal experience here in the UK from switching to Castle Water after a crash course in water management for my business. These are all small steps that should take no time at all. Just think of it like you’re comparing the price of something you’re looking to buy online. You want to almost make a game out of getting the best deal possible.
Tip 1: Ask for freebies
You don’t ask. You don’t get. Running a small business takes away free time quicker than you imagine. It often means you won’t find yourself in situations thumbing through your contracts and agreements with providers page by page to see what benefits you get included in your bills. I highly recommend giving your water supplier a call right now (I’ll wait) and ask what free services are included in your account.
It could be something as simple as a water audit of your business to see that costs add up, or that there’s unclaimed credit in your account, but you’ll never know what you can get without asking. So go do it!
Tip 2: This time last year
Find where you keep your water bills and check how much you were paying this time last year. Many businesses in late 2020 will have seen a marked reduction in water usage, but if your supplier is still working off what was used a few months ago or this time last year, you’ll be paying a lot more than you need to.
Most water companies will be happy to talk with you about changes in the last few months and may even restructure your billings to provide a lower payment for the foreseeable future. Again, if you’re not asking questions, you just won’t know.
Tip 3: Look at your options
Water suppliers get incredibly competitive with one another. Even showing the slightest interest in moving may see your provider offer some incentives to stay. I would recommend phoning around and asking competitors what they would charge for the amount you use, and then go back to your current supplier. In most cases, they’ll happily match rates rather than lose you to another company. It helps too if another company loads on the freebies like Tip 1.
Tip 4: Check you’re not on auto
This tip is mostly aimed at small businesses like cafes, bars, restaurants etc., which will have seen periods of closure throughout the year. As most are independently run, it is common to overlook where water is used automatically when no one is around. The most common example would be auto flushing controls for urinals in the bathroom. Even in cases where no one is using the bathroom for weeks on end, that’s litres of water being wasted every day that increase bills for no valid reason.
Have a look around at any equipment which uses water automatically and see if it can be turned off or switched to manual.
Tip 5: Friendly reminders to staff
My last piece of advice focuses on water education. I believe it’s the most effective way of keeping costs down, as informed staff will always be proactive if water reduction is viewed as a positive. I’ve seen examples of food outlets, especially ones working with ice cream and hot food, where taps are constantly running as a side effect of keeping utensils clean. I’ve even seen it in gyms where people leave the water fountain on and walk right by. Providing a little reminder here and there with staff to think about how much water is being used, and how often it is used, will see a marked reduction.
You might only notice a few pounds here and there coming off the bill, but it all adds up in the end.
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