Small businesses appear to be tiring of constant calls from energy brokers, new research published by Ofgem suggests. Yet at least a quarter are still paying over the odds for their energy.
A survey of 1,254 small businesses (up to 49 staff) found broadly similar switching and engagement levels in 2016 compared with the previous couple of years.
The survey found brokers reached fewer small business in 2016 than in 2015 (down to 50% of those surveyed from 64%). Despite that, they influenced the same percentage of overall contracts (28%) as the previous year.
“However,” states the report by customer research firm Quadrangle, “brokers appear to have worked harder to maintain their level of influence; the perceived number of calls from brokers has increased significantly (14% recalled 50+ calls in 2014, increasing to 19% in 2015 and 22% in 2016).
While those that used brokers were satisfied with them (80% were very or quite satisfied), negative feelings in the broader small business market have intensified over the last few years, the survey found. Some 50% cited very or quite negative perceptions of brokers in 2016 versus 46% in 2015 and 44% in 2014.
The report mooted a correlation between increase in negativity and perceived increase in calls from brokers.
Meanwhile, the survey found that current suppliers have the biggest influence on contracts, and suggested some progress from small firms in renegotiating their deals, with around four in ten (39%) more likely to be on renegotiated contracts with their current supplier than hold a first-time contract with a new supplier (31%).
However, around one in four businesses (26%) remain on a rollover contract, which means they are likely paying well over the odds for energy. The report found the smallest firms (fewer than 5 employees) were most likely to let that happen.
See the research here.