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UTILITY Week 17th March 2017

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12 | 17TH - 23RD MARCH 2017 | UTILITY WEEK Water brokers H2O Building Services H2O Building Services has been trading for 20 years, providing a water and waste- water cost reduction service. Benefits and services the company offers include: remote water flow online demand management; water leak detection and repair; fitting of water efficiency products; installation of water meters both for hot and cold water; and trade effluent sampling and on-line effluent flow monitoring. The firm – a partnership business pri- vately owned – currently employs a team of ten people, and its executive team consists of: Graham Mann, senior partner (pictured); Nicky Mann, head of water procurement and retail; Heidi Laverick, head of water bureau and major project delivery; and Amber Fraser, head of national leisure projects and water leak detection and repair services delivery. Its expansion plans are self-funded, and it is in the process of recruiting new staff. H2O currently has 45 clients, including McDonalds, Jewson St Gobain, Vertu Motors, Bourne Leisure, and Wolseley UK. On top of that, it says it takes on an average of three new customers per week – a number that is rising as awareness of the open water market increases. It expects substantial growth in the coming months. It is not targeting any specific segment of the water market, but at the current rate of client acquisition, it expects to have close to £50 million-worth of client water and waste- water portfolios within its ongoing projects by year end. The company does not intend to exclu- sively place its clients' water supplies with a regulated water retailer, and has various options. These include self-supply, or pro- viding the customer with an off-grid supply. However, when choosing a retailer it will consider the best price and billing platform and format. It says it does not require any bundled or added-value services because it provides these services in-house direct to the customer. "TPIs have a valuable role to play in the competitive water market." T PIs, or brokers, will undoubt- edly be part of the fabric of the new water market in England. Their involvement has the potential to support market development through enabling higher levels of customer engagement. Customers can contact water retail- ers for quick, clear and simple quotes but, in some cases, customers may choose to use a broker. In readiness for April, Water Plus has been working with the TPI com- munity as we recognise the value they can bring. We've built up some great relationships with brokers and consultants of all types, who come with a desire to get the best for their customers. Retailers can certainly work effec- tively with TPIs and brokers. Since setting up Water Plus in the summer last year, we've put in place distinct teams focusing on this channel to reflect the differing sales and opera- tional requirements of intermediated customers. We have a team with expe- rience gained in energy, the Scottish water market, and other intermediated industries, and we've brought our enduring relationships with us along the way to create a strong and focused team aimed at making things as easy as possible for customers and TPIs. We have already identified areas where all parties can benefit from working together. Some main exam- ples are: • As a leading retailer, we can pro- vide the market knowledge and tech- nical understanding of contracts and pricing to TPIs who are perhaps new to water. Most have, to date, focused on energy, and although there are similarities between the services there are some significant differences which need to be thoroughly understood to get the best for clients. • We can work together with TPIs to develop robust relationships with all wholesalers, to ensure the best levels of service in resolving customer que- ries. We are also keen to work together with the central market agencies as the market develops to suit the needs of the customer. As a retailer, we want to cover all sectors of the market through TPIs – from the large corporate client that works with a consultant to help with best practice procurement and water management, through to the small enterprise that submits a letter of authority to allow a broker to agree and sign a contract on their behalf. We recognise that ease of transac- tion at the smaller end of the market will be attractive to brokers and so we're developing our brokers portal to enable self-service contracting. Inno- vative approaches to contracting at the larger end will help us and consult- ants provide differentiation. Making sure information about the market is readily at hand and our responses to quote and tender requests are timely and accurate are a must and something we are commit- ted to. And perhaps most importantly we need to ensure that commissions, where relevant, are fair and sustaina- ble in a market where the opportunity for customer savings on contract rates are sometimes already limited. There are a few of us in the Water Plus team who have previously worked in the energy market, and have seen the development of how the TPI channel operates there. It does need to be acknowledged that there have been times where the unscrupulous actions of a small num- ber of third parties have had a nega- tive impact on levels of trust in TPIs and as retailers and we're keen to take lessons learnt to ensure the customer understands who provides services to them and what they are paying for. We're keen to work with third parties and other market agencies to ensure the appropriate controls are in place to monitor the market while leaving enough flexibility for increased choice and innovation. Opinion Catherine Simpson, Partnerships manager, Water Plus Stay on top of the market A pdf emailed directly to you every fortnight as part of your Utility Week Intelligence membership. To subscribe: www.utilityweek.co.uk

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