Before Auditel began working with the Oxford Union Society, Lindsey Warne, the Bursar, had various issues with their energy suppliers.
Founded in 1823 the Oxford Union is possibly the most famous student-run body in Britain and maybe even the world, with five of its former presidents going on to become Prime Minister. The Union holds weekly showpiece debates modelled on Westminster’s parliamentary procedure, with guest speakers invited by the elected president. The aim of the Union is to promote debate and discussion on any topic, not just at the university but across the globe.
The Union used a buying group to assist with energy procurement. However the group gave Lindsey the bad news that the electricity and gas suppliers they were using were no longer operational. Lindsey was left to sort out the energy contracts herself, so she hoped to migrate their supplies. This proved unsuccessful for gas which was still not transferred two years later. The buying group recommended Lindsey contact Auditel consultant Stuart Spencer. They were confident he could assist as Stuart had already helped several of their other clients in similar situations.
Lindsey’s first request was to move their gas to the new supplier she had selected two years earlier. However, when Stuart began to explore the chosen supplier’s agreement he actually found out, through subsequent changes, that had she moved to this new supplier, the Union would have been £3,500 worse off. So his next challenge was to find an alternative. By conducting a market tender Stuart selected a supplier that offered 14% savings on original expenditure and low fixed rates for three years.
Stuart then moved on to the Union’s electricity and proved that you don’t need to move supplier to realise savings. By negotiating with the incumbent he reduced expenditure in this area by 10.5% for 2006, saving money as well as the hassle of switching supplier. When this contract came up for renewal in 2007, he found further savings of 13.5% for the next two years, this time by conducting a tender and selecting the most suitable new supplier.
As well as finding savings, part of Stuart’s review involved analysing historical expenditure to check billing accuracy. This process meant stabilising the Union’s meter readings because there was a history of inaccurate readings which had caused unpredictable and erratic billing. Stuart’s explorations revealed staggering rebates totalling £10,000 from overpayments on both gas and electricity. Subsequently, he has simplified the process of meter reading for the Union. All Lindsey has to do now, is take a digital photo of the front of each meter, email it to Stuart and he makes sure the supplier gets the right figure.
Savings now total £25,000 over three years, which is a substantial amount for Lindsey to add to her budget. Most of the Union’s income is from bar takings and student subscriptions meaning every penny really counts to considerably ease financial pressures on Lindsey and the team. Stuart will continue to provide peace of mind for the Union as he maintains the management of their business costs and continues to ensure they aren’t paying more than necessary in the future.