Bad-egg brokers cripple the reputation of those working hard for their customers
Building a LinkedIn network in the energy brokering industry has exposed me to a stream of ‘thought pieces’ (often rantings) on the sector, its participants (both suppliers and brokers) and a broad range of opinion on the validity of the existing model of third party involvement in energy procurement. On an almost daily basis, my news feed contains a white-washed view of the brokering sector, downplaying the involvement of these middle-men and openly branding them as liars, cheats, cowboys…and often a lot worse.
Quite commonly, these views appear to be an attempt to damage the brand reputation of a previous employer following a dismissal or other P45-inducing disagreement. But more concerning to me are the views of end consumers on the role of energy brokers in procurement and accusations of mis-management of customer expectations, the over-hiking of uplifts added to energy contracts and the general dissent shown towards those having chosen brokering as their particular line of work. Without knowing the details in a one-sided social media disagreement, it’s hard to tell who is really at fault. Nevertheless, my time in this industry has taught me a lot about the way that brokers actually operate and to take what I read with a pinch of salt.
As everyone reading this would probably agree, some brokers out there are ‘cowboys’. Just like every other industry in the modern world. The sad fact is that exploitation of unknowing or disinterested consumers does occur – not helped by the lack of regulation imposed on the visibility of commissions. But entering this industry a little more than a year ago, I’ve learned with absolute certainty that this issue is far more commonly not the case at all. The minority of TPIs who intend to maximise profit through deceit and exploitation of their customer base paint a bad picture which overshadows the customer service, honesty and integrity that the majority uphold.
Yes, brokers are there to make money. Just like the rest of us. That’s why you’re sitting at your desk right now. Commissions are the mechanism by which this takes place – but believe it or not, the p/kWh uplift added to the quotes a broker provides is not pure profit. Far from it. Nor is it ‘free money’ simply for passing customer details onto energy suppliers. A good broker gives advice; managing the customer’s portfolio (big or small) and locking in contracts that benefit the bottom line of both parties. Ultimately, choosing a broker is more important than choosing your energy supplier. Don’t just jump into bed with the first one that comes knocking then take to LinkedIn when things go wrong – take advice from colleagues, use word of mouth to your advantage, target a few reputable brokers and have considered conversations to see how you click. You don’t have to wait for a broker to call you.
Slating the entire industry through the one-way glass of social media doesn’t serve to help anyone. More productive would be working together in building a more transparent industry where the brokers who deserve to succeed do just that. At UtilityClick, we provide energy broker CRM software to a wide range; large and small, startup to mature business and without exception these companies and their employees put the needs of their customers first. I’m proud to help these brokers succeed.