By Alastair Roy, ARO Procurement
The high cost of utilities remains one of the key factors confronting hospitality businesses in Scotland and elsewhere in the UK and shows no sign of abating any time soon.
Efficient utilities procurement is critical to the overall success of hospitality venues and finding cost effective solutions while considering investment in energy saving technologies is a delicate balancing act.
Collating data and tendering your gas, electricity and water supplies can be time consuming but rewarding because any savings are delivered direct to your P&L and not a 3rd party intermediary.
Sometimes those organisations can make a positive contribution but always attempt to go direct to utility companies in the first instance. Appointing partner suppliers with an interest in the sector can yield benefits including beneficial pricing and contractual terms. In addition, you will find many of the utility suppliers provider consultancy services as part of their service offer to help deliver efficiencies and minimise consumption.
Investing in renewables via solar panels, wind turbines or hybrid solar wind systems are amongst a variety of solutions which can create savings and contribute to all important environmental and sustainability targets.
Although the investment levels can sometimes be a blocker when these options are first considered, the long-term returns and positive impact on the environment can make them look increasingly viable. In addition to ensuring efficient procurement practices are adhered to when negotiating terms for the purchase of utilities, an equally important opportunity is to find ways of engaging and energising your team members to embrace energy and utility saving practices.
Switching off heat and light when areas are not in use and reducing HVAC thermostats are obvious ways to get employees involved in saving energy. However, a more significant way to achieve results is by creating a culture where ideas are encouraged and implemented to really embed sustainability at the heart of your operational activities.
Securing grant and loan funding for energy saving investments can be fruitful and ScotGov agencies including Business Energy Scotland which is managed by the Energy Savings Trust is a useful resource to help businesses find ways of building more sustainable practices which will ultimately assist in reducing utility costs.
These government agencies can often provide access to seminars and workshops either in person or online to push the staff empowerment messaging and garner increased interest in participating in energy saving initiatives.
Also check with your local council to find out if it is possible to access grant funding available from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. It can be easy to focus on gas and electricity because those costs are so substantial to most businesses, but attention should also be given to improving water usage efficiencies including low flow taps and aerators to limit flow without affecting the user experience and other water consumption reducing systems and fixtures.
Striking a balance between mitigating spiralling utility costs at the same time as considering environmental factors requires a well thought through strategic approach to utilities procurement. Forging partnership alliances with utility suppliers and exploring how technology can benefit your organisation are key tenets to the strategy.
In addition, nurturing a sustainably minded culture throughout, keeping up to date on regulatory changes and taking advantage of new innovations are all part of the matrix of challenges and opportunities in utilities procurement.
For more information or guidance on utilities procurement, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.aroprocurement.com.