Client and Service Spotlight
St. Paul’s Realizes 33% Savings on Waste Expenses and Receives $26,000 in Refunds The Client
St. Paul’s is a continuing care community located in Greenville, PA and is home to more than 425 seniors. Independent living, aging-in-place apartments, nursing care and home-based services make up the bulk of the services provided. St. Paul’s mission is to provide meaning and richness to the life of each resident. It’s vision is to create a sense of belonging and purpose by providing a place to call home for those who choose to become part of its family. Edge Insights previously performed an energy and telecom analysis for St. Paul’s, which resulted in substantial savings and refunds. St. Paul’s recently engaged Edge Insights to review all waste streams, including medical waste and recycling opportunities. St. Paul’s had never been approached with this type of contingency fee based waste audit offering and they were confident Edge Insights would deliver value as it had in the past.
The results were impressive. Through Edge Insights’ efforts, St. Paul’s will save 33% on waste and recycling expenses annually and will receive $26,000 in refunds. Read more of our client Case Studies
Premise-based Phone Systems Versus Hosted VoIP If your phone system is older than five years, you are most likely considering making a new purchase in the next couple of years. The playing field has evolved. There are numerous factors to weigh when making a phone system purchase. We would like to focus on four factors that should help mold your decision in how to move forward.#1: Total Cost of Ownership
Total Cost of Ownership must be considered. When looking at the bottom line of a premise-based phone system, ensure to include the following: ongoing maintenance; upgrades to software and hardware; training cost and; moves, adds and changes. Hosted platforms advertise they include these services in the monthly recurring charge with the perception that the overall cost will be reduced. Proposals should be reviewed to ensure each vendor is compared on an “apples to apples” platform. In one particular study, a client was provided a quote indicating their telecom expenses would be reduced from $4,800 a year to zero. Although that sounded appealing, in reality that was impossible since $3,600 of the annual spend was for designated alarm lines that could not be placed on a hosted platform and could not be cancelled.#2: Operational Expense versus Capital Expense
For many businesses, operational funds are easier to tap into than committing to a large, upfront capital expenditure. Hosted options may not provide the routers, switches or handsets. These details must be examined to ensure all aspects of the phone system are considered before making a decision. It’s appealing for a relatively new company to jump into an all-inclusive hosted model that would deliver brand new networking and telecom equipment without the need for an initial investment.#3: Upgrading
Typically the end user is responsible for upgrades of a premise based telephone system. Contracting with your vendor to come on site and apply new service patches can become very expensive. We have seen many telecom environments in which clients made the decision not to upgrade because of the added expense. However, they are leaving their systems vulnerable and could incur greater costs down the road. Typically hosted providers take ownership of this task and apply upgrade patches as required. This could save a lot of money over time and ensure your system is up to date with the latest security and performance patches.
Premise-based systems and hosted based systems are driven by software that requires licensing. When owning your system, you make an upfront decision on the number of licenses to purchase. Over the course of time, if your business requirements decrease, it’s almost impossible to recoup the money spent to purchase those licenses. A hosted system allows on demand scalability. If you have a seasonal business, you can contract for a certain number of seats during the peak times and scale back during the slow season.
There are a lot of factors when considering on how to move forward with a new phone system and there is no cookie cutter explanation for every company. UtiliTech has consulted with small and very large organizations to review the best course of action to implement a new phone system. We would be happy to discuss how we can assist you in your future phone system purchase. Please reach out to us at 610-777-3200 to discuss further.
How to Avoid Deceptive Marketing from Energy SuppliersThe graphic above depicts a typical conversation between a telemarketing supplier and a prospect. As the conversation above indicates, the supplier will act as if they are aware of your current rate. Unless you are strictly on default pricing and have no supplier, it is unlikely this is the case. Many of our customers have provided feedback on the incessant calls they are receiving from numerous suppliers. We wanted to alert you to some very deceptive tactics that are being used to persuade customers to lock into supply deals. Unfortunately, a few of our customers have experienced the negative effects of agreeing to a contract over the phone and have been forced to pay either contract termination penalties or a much higher rate than was promised.Below are some UtiliTech customer experiences that have occurred in the past few months.Scenario #1: A telemarketer spoke to one of our clients and asked what they were currently paying for energy. The rep claimed he could provide a better rate. In this scenario he was unable to get a fixed price lower than their current contract, so he provided a rate that did not include all of the supply charges. As deceptive as this practice is, the rep banked on the fact that our client wouldn’t understand his pricing. By the time they received their first bill, it was too late and they were stuck in a bad deal. Consumer protections have been put in place by various PUC’s to protect against this type of activity for residential consumers, but when it comes to businesses, you are on your own. The PUC expects businesses to be fully aware of what they are agreeing to.
Scenario #2: One business owner agreed to what he thought was a fixed price of 6 cents per kwh. He agreed to it because he was currently under a supply deal for 7 cents per kwh.
As it turns out, the deal he signed was a fluctuating month-to-month rate that did not include main components of the supply charges, meaning he was set to pay a minimum 10 cents per kwh per month. He was also hit with a substantial early termination fee for leaving his prior contract early.
Scenario #3: Another business owner fell victim to an energy broker that put him in a contract that overlapped his current contract. The rate was better, because the market was more favorable than it was the previous year. But the prior contract included early termination penalties and insufficient notice fees, and the lower rate ended up costing the business in the long run.
Below is some advice for Business Owners/Energy Managers to avoid deceptive marketing:
– First of all, designate ONE person to handle energy decisions.
– Make sure all employees know who the key point of responsibility is for decisions.
– Be sure to funnel ALL calls to the designated person.
– Learn the details of your current contract.
– Know the rate and what it includes (and doesn’t include).
– Understand the consequences for breaking the contract.
– Know the current state of the commodities market.
– Make sure to get a contract in writing so you understand all of the terms & conditions.
– Be sure to read the fine print. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure the price you are promised includes all portions of supply costs (all pass through costs & taxes). Also find out whether it is fixed or variable. Sometimes suppliers will try to lock you into a great rate, but it turns out the price is variable and increases exponentially a few months into the deal.
Finally, understand how commodity markets work, and remember that a lower rate today doesn’t mean you made a poor decision with your current broker!
If you fail to understand the details associated with your electric and natural gas supply, a clever marketing program or unscrupulous sales rep will exploit your lack of knowledge and you could find yourself and your business in a bad deal.
If you are ever uncertain, please feel free to give us a call directly at 610-777-3200. We will be happy to review your questions and vet any opportunities that come your way.