What can you do when you find yourself having to tell customers bad news because of circumstances completely out of anyone’s control? You tell it like it is and then tell them what you are going to do help them through it.
That’s how we work at The Apertus Group, anyway. We don’t stall, we don’t fudge, we don’t make promises we can’t keep, and we certainly don’t tell them things just because we think it’s what they want to hear.
Why am I saying this? Because it’s a simple fact that, right now, two of the key elements of our business are not in the best of shapes. We are energy brokers – and energy prices are at a record high. We lease cars – and manufacturing pretty much ground to a halt last year, the knock-on effects of which we are seeing now.
But the facts are there, there’s nothing we can do about that, all we can do is make sure our customers are reassured and confident that we will do whatever it takes to help them through all this and that they won’t suffer any more than they need to. And even if they’re not our customers – if they want expert, unbiased advice, during this difficult time, we’re here to help.
With the car market, which is still reeling from the shortage of semi-conductors caused by the demand for laptops and devices during the pandemic, the facts are simple. If you have a car on order with us, and it’s going to be delayed by a few months, we will still get you on the road. We have access to vehicles. They won’t be what you ordered but for a straightforward monthly rental fee, we can provide a stop-gap vehicle if you need one.
The price of energy and renewing contracts is rather more complicated – with the price shifting constantly and brokers having to move swiftly to lock in a price before the whole deal is out of date and needs recalculating.
So, what can we do to help?
We can tell you the questions to ask
Whether you’re a customer of ours or you’re uncertain that the deal you’re getting elsewhere is a good one, we will go through a contract with you. I’ve said many times that the important thing in negotiating new energy contracts is having an experience professional on your side. There are plenty of good brokers out there, and if we look at your contract and you’re getting a fair deal, then we will leave it with you. We’re not out to cause good energy brokers grief, we just think the customer should know that what they are getting.
Make sure you know what you have been charged by your broker
Broker fees are tiny – or look tiny. Brokers need to charge an uplift for the work they do on your behalf, that’s how they stay in business. And when you see that all they charge is 1p per unit supplied, it looks like hardly anything. If you use 100,000 units a year, that’s £1,000. Over a three-year contract, that’s £3,000. Some brokers will be north of 3p for the same contract that’s £9,000, for no extra work. You can always ask the energy supplier what uplift was added to the contract. Does that match with what you are being told? I assure you it rarely does.
Make sure you know exactly what your broker is authorised to do
Brokers need a Letter of Authority to act on your behalf. There’s a Level 1 (soft) Letter of Authority which allows your broker access to your details and to negotiate on your behalf, but you have to sign the contract. A Level 2 (hard) Letter of Authority allows a broker to agree a contract on your behalf. Never sign a Level 2 Letter of Authority! With this a broker can sign you into a new renewal, without your knowledge, with any uplift they like. I promise this happens….
Make sure you see a full version of the new contract before you agree
Ask for a copy to be sent to you and check it through carefully. If you’re asked over the phone if a contract is right, and you say it is, then you are verbally entering into a contract without the chance to read it through, examine all the details – is the price for the first year going to go up in the second year, for instance. They may not have explained that clearly. Get it sent to you and make sure you understand fully what you are entering.
As I said earlier, we’re not out to steal other people’s business if it’s been done right, but those brokers and suppliers who see customers as cash cows, I assure you we will happily show the customers what you have done. We know that it is a difficult time all round and at The Apertus Group everything starts with the customer and whether they are getting the deal they deserve. We can’t hide from the fact that there are problems out there, and we must address them. We don’t know when it is going to get better, we can only work with what we’ve got. If a broker tells you to hold off on renewing and ride it out – they’re guessing. Take their advice but at some point you will have to pull up your big boy pants and make a call.
No one knows how long it will be before the situation in either sector improves, all we can do is make sure everyone’s interests are looked after as best we can.
Find out more about The Apertus Group on 01604 212828, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website www.apertusgroup.co.uk