Independent and professional

July 13, 2016

For two years running, Boldon-based Square One Utilities has reached the national final of the Energy Live Consultancy Awards, widely recognised as the energy industry’s most prestigious showcase. In 2015 it was shortlisted for Most Trusted Consultant and this year for Best Customer Service. North East Times speaks to managing director Michael Harkus about how the company consistently maintains the highest standards of customer service

What does Square One Utilities do?

We source commercial utility contracts for clients, acting as their independent consultant as opposed to agents who work in the interests of utility providers.


Who are your clients?

We represent clients from all commercial sectors, ranging from high profile regional organisations such as Port of Tyne, Newcastle Building Society and The Royal Grammar School, to internationally renowned clients such as The Royal Mint and Eton College.


What’s your USP?

We’re totally independent and will not entertain preferred supplier arrangements. This would compromise our independence and ability to properly represent the client interests.

We’re also highly experienced – we offer knowledgeable supply industry professionals with decades of experience. We are also renowned for our independence, integrity and professionalism throughout the industry. And we are transparent in that we keep all supplier quotations in perpetuity, making them available to clients as evidence that tenders are carried out accurately and in their best interests.


What would you advise a potential customer to consider when appointing a broker?

Make sure your broker is independent and can offer whole-of-market advice. Some may only work with a handful of preferred suppliers or even as a single supplier agent.

Fees being included these days can be eye watering. If asked, they must declare their margin and provide evidence from the supplier. If you already have a broker, your supplier will tell you how much is being paid to the broker.

You must also ensure all suppliers are analysed like-for-like. It is all too easy for brokers to include differing fees in supplier quotes, hence unfair tendering and not presenting the best price.

If it sounds too good to be true it probably is. Check that everything has been included. We regularly find instances where huge savings are claimed against current costs, but on further inspection only the energy component (about half of the end price) has been included in the quote. While energy prices have fallen recently, third party charges are significantly increasing and often negate savings from reduced energy prices. You will be charged all cost elements by your supplier, so you need to ensure that any offers considered take account of ALL third party charges and taxes, not just the energy component.


In the last two years you have been national finalists in your sector’s most prestigious awards for Best Customer Service and Most Trusted Consultant. How do you maintain your high level of service?

We charge a fair and transparent fee for the services we provide. And we take great pride in providing exceptional service throughout the life of our engagement because we want clients to remain with us in the long term.


Where do you see your company in five years?

We intend growing organically. We have no desire to be the biggest brokerage in the country, but are intent on being the best consultancy. Every company joining us does so in the knowledge they will get the same exemplary service we strive to provide to every single client every single time.


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