Blog & Press Releases
Posted 19 November 2015 | | 0 Comments
November is the peak month for fuel usage, as retailers stock up for Christmas and internet deliveries ramp up. Consumers use more fuel also, as what was a walk becomes a car trip in the cold and rain. The relatively low fuel prices have also meant that usage has increased. However, there remain the usual calls for fuel duty to be reduced or at least frozen and the forecast benefits that this will bring the British economy.
If you look at the figures, it is easy to quantify savings, based on any cut in duty. A small business with 6 vehicles, using 1500 litres per month would save around £180 per year on a 1 pence per litre (ppl) duty reduction. Obviously with a larger fleet, this becomes 000's and an immediate quick win, but as a percentage of running costs it is a drop in the ocean.
There are other factors which can save businesses far more than 1ppl, but tend to be ignored in small businesses, as it is easier to moan at the government than take control of your fuel spend - so here are a few simple tips to get you started in having a company fuel policy.
1. Do I have the appropriate vehicles for the business? Not a quick win, but how many times are large vans sent out less than half full, when the load would be carried in a maxi van or smaller. Can you replace some of your fleet with smaller more efficient vehicles?
2. Do I have a fuel card, which is convenient as it saves me money?
3. Do I monitor fuel efficiency and run mpg reports - it's easy, just have the vehicles full at the end of the last day of each month, record fuel purchases and get the start & finish mileage. A spreadsheet later, you will have mpg figures for each vehicle to use to:
- Compare similar vehicles efficiency
- Use as a benchmark to improve
- Use to help purchasing decisions on vehicles
- Monitor driver performance
- Identify possible fuel theft - who drives a diesel car, who carries a fuel can?
A van is designed to travel at 56mph with a load on board, but one travelling at 90mph uses 50% more fuel. If a driver filled up and paid 180ppl, when others paid 120ppl, you wouldn't be happy, but it would cost the same as driving at 90mph. Sensible driving will save on wear & tear in brakes, tyres & reduce the risk of accidents and the costs of a vehicle off the road.
4. Unnecessary journeys - 30 miles per vehicle per week adds up to around £300 per year, so going out of your way to buy 'cheaper' fuel, is costing you money and time. Telematics can help drive fuel efficiency, but adds a cost, but should give net savings.
5. What simple things can I do to reduce fuel spend?
- Lighten the load - we all carry extra things that we don't need
- Roof/ladder racks increase fuel use - do you need them?
- Tyre pressures - check them. Incorrect tyre pressures will cost 2% in extra fuel
Reducing fuel spend is not rocket science and by getting a BSA Fuel Card, you can monitor your fuel spend by vehicle, get a highly competitive rate on diesel at stations convenient to you. We could have saved you 4ppl on average UK pump prices in November.
by H Burton | 19 November 2015
Posted 27 October 2015 | | 0 Comments
Nobody goes into business to do paperwork or have to spend time keeping on top of a key business expense like fuel, so by having a fuel card through the BSA Buying Group, you can be assured of the control, security and convenience of branded fuel sites, with the opportunity to make savings against pump prices combined with one simple invoice for all fuel purchases meaning no VAT goes unclaimed.
What is an Fuel Card?
A BSA Fuel Card is a secure method of payment for fuel (and oil etc, if required) and they are issued on behalf of fuel companies to businesses to control their refuelling.
One of the key developments within the fuel card arena is that as travel is changing, there is demand for more and more products and services, which will be included on cards, such as Tolls, tyres etc. These will be available soon.
How much do I pay for the fuel?
On a fixed price fuel card you are given a weekly fixed price for fuel, which is effective at the garages which accept that card (and not all do). The savings will be different, depending on the pump price at each site, so on the motorway, the price that you pay may be 15ppl cheaper than the pump price, but at a local site there may be 2ppl saving. It is not a discount, but a weekly fixed price and you do NOT pay the price that the pump displays, but the price which you are sent each week, in advance.
For fleet cards, you will pay pump price and for the Allstar network, you will pay pump price and a Network Service Fee of £2 per transaction, but in return you get access to 95% of fuel stations in the UK. It is traditionally used as an administration tool, to claim VAT and provide secure payment.
How does it work?
After a simple application process, where you speak to a dedicated BSA Fuel Card Consultant, who advises you on the best network for your requirements, you receive your cards, have the weekly fixed price sent to you on a Friday for the following week and then use the cards at the relevant stations as payment. You are then billed by the card issuer for your fuel, with a breakdown of all purchases - where, when, which card, fuel volume, price etc. and payment is then taken by direct debit a week later. Businesses (Sole Trader, Partnership or Limited) who apply will be put through a credit check.
How do I know where I can use the card?
We send you those details of where you use the cards and it depends on which card you chose. For example our Esso card can be used at all Esso branded stations. Shell, however, offer around 500 stations (about half of all Shell sites) at a weekly fixed price. We give you Satelite Navigation files which you can upload as points of interest, an online site locator and can send you a list of sites, as required. In reality, drivers tend to use a couple of local stations and a handful of others when out on the road.
What are the Benefits?
- There are many benefits for businesses by using fuel cards:
- Administration - no lost receipts, no cash floats - just one invoice and one payment.
- Control - you know where and when the cards have been used and by going online, you can see recent fill ups and monitor fuel use.
- Security - cards can be tied to vehicles - so you know the fuel is going into your vehicles.
- Savings - we offer a weekly fixed price at many sites, so you can save up to 3p per litre or as much as 15p per litre at motorway sites, which may be convenient, but at pump price you wouldn't use.
- Branded fuel - we offer BP, Shell, Esso & Texaco brands, as well as commercial networks such as UK Fuels and Keyfuels, so you know that you are getting a quality product.
- You know the price in advance, so you can budget and drivers are not making the price decision. Would your business buy anything else without knowing the price beforehand ?
- No dead mileage - how many times do drivers come off route to use a cheap supermarket site, so after extra mileage, driving and queuing time at a busy site, they have saved 2p per litre at the pump, but cost 10p per litre in lost time and extra mileage !
- A FREE Fuel Analysis Exclusive to BSA Buying Group Members - we will analyse your fuel spending patterns and make recommendations on your fuel usage, highlighting savings.
- A Dedicated Account Manager - you speak to a real person in the UK who knows your account and can solve issues there and then.
- Compliance - we hold all your invoices for six years, so you have no lost paperwork.
- Coverage - we give you a high percentage of main road and motorway sites, many open 24 hours, to meet your needs.
- Credit terms on your purchases
- No minimum spend, no low or non usage fees
- Free cards in the first year (then £4 per card per year thereafter) - a special discount for BSA Buying Group Members
- Online access to your account 24/7
- Sat Nav files with all the information that you need - 24 hours, HGV lane, Shop, WC etc.
- Free one year membership of The Gourmet Society (worth £72) giving savings at thousands of restaurants.
Fuel Cards are a flexible, secure payment method for businesses, which allow drivers access to fuel and vehicle related products (if required). There are different pricing policies and differing levels of coverage, depending on the network, so you must look at your requirements and priorities and assess what is the best option for your business.
How do I take advantage of this benefit?
To take up these benefits, you need to be a member of BSA Buying Group. To join, simply call 0800 254 0344 or complete the enquiry form. Joining is very quick and easy, and gives you immediate access to all 24 cost categories.
by M Roper | 27 October 2015
Posted 27 October 2015 | | 0 Comments
BSA SMARTCASH - show your staff you care
We've spent the last decade helping UK companies to cut costs, save time and boost profits. Many hundred have joined BSA Buying Group and tapped into our buying power across 24 separate cost categories.
Now we're thrilled to be able to do the same for your staff... through BSA SmartCash!
BSA SmartCash, an online platform, allows our clients' staff to search for their favourite UK retailers, products and categories. On product search the members' results will be displayed via our price comparison feed, which contains 10 million products. Members can shop with peace of mind knowing they're not only receiving the lowest possible online price but also relevant discount voucher codes and cashback available. There are over 3,000 retailers, including Argos, Tesco, Debenhams, House of Fraser, M&S, Homebase.
How it works
1) Search for product or retailer
2) Product results are generated
3) Purchase made on retailer site
4) Cashback awarded
So if you want to reward your employees, taking away some of their stress by supporting their household budgets, then you should seriously consider joining BSA Buying Group and then, as well as cutting your company's own running costs by up to 58%, we'll give you free access to BSA SmartCash.
by M Roper | 27 October 2015
Posted 3 August 2015 | | 0 Comments
We've all heard on numerous occasions the old adage "Cash is king!" and no-one doubts the critical importance of companies keeping on top of cash flow. Whilst traditionally it has been the finance function which has had the responsibility to cash flow management, Procurement has a key role to play too. But how? We've identified some of the key aspects of Procurement which, working well with Finance, can have a major positive impact on the cash position:
Option one is the most obvious one - Cost savings. Every pounds saved immediately boosts cash flow by reducing the invoice values coming into Accounts Payable. This is partly about negotiating with suppliers to seek discounts through giving them more business, or more security of supply. One big area of cost which companies often forget is overheads or indirect costs. The only way small and medium sized companies can make a step change cost saving here is by joining a buying group to leverage the greater buying power. One example is BSA Buying Group, which covers 24 cost categories (e.g. telecoms, utilities, insurances, travel expenses) and delivers on average 15-25% cost reduction. Joining this group will almost certainly make a positive impact on the cash flow.
Option two is for Procurement to develop processes to ensure that sufficient checks and balances are in the system to mitigate the risks of maverick buying and fraudulent expenses claims. For example, if the buyer can negotiate with suppliers that only official purchase orders are to be accepted by suppliers, this will help to eradicate orders off contract which are often priced at a higher level (and thereby hurting cash flow). Also bear in mind that invoices can often contain errors which may impact negatively on cash.
Option three is for Procurement to negotiate discounts from suppliers for early payments - it's a commercial benefit for a supplier who in turn as a reward may be prepares to give away a small amount of profit. Lower costs will then in turn help cash flow for the buyer's company.
Staying with payment terms, option four is for Procurement to negotiate extended payment terms. The trick here is to ensure that this is built into contract terms and consistently applied across all key suppliers. As long as the extension isn't stretched too far, it can really boost cash flow as a one-off hit. But beware over doing it, as it can lead to relationship damage if used as a threat. It's also worth noting that even when payment terms have been breached, Procurement can support Finance by engaging with the Supplier's senior management and reassuring the Supplier that payment will be coming before too long, explaining the causes of the delays. This option is only relevant if Procurement has a deep and supportive relationship with the Supplier and of course, it's a card that can't be played too often.
Option five is ensuring that Procurement are effectively monitoring foreign exchange rates and price indices for raw materials (e.g. paper, plastics, fuels) and that contracts define (hopefully in the buyer's favour!) what happens when rates fluctuate. Whilst the foreign supplier may be quick to seek more revenues when rates go in their favour, Procurement will help cash flow by seeing improved deals when the rates move in their favour. They mustn't rely on the suppliers to tell them, as it may not be in their commercial interest to do so.
Option six relates to customer complaint which results in their slow or non-payment of your invoices. Procurement can help here by tightening up the processes and supply chain rules around root cause analysis and commercial redress when things go wrong. If you wait until the problem hits, it's likely that the delay in resolving the issue to the satisfaction of the client will be longer, hitting cash flow for longer.
Option seven is to involve Procurement in the sourcing of, and negotiation with, financial borrowing service providers. Procurement is often not involved in funding supply chains, as its seen as the domain of Finance. However, when going into battle as a team with Finance, the negotiation and commercial skills that Procurement should have in its armoury can really help to secure a lower borrowing interest rate or other aspects of the deal which will impact positively on cash flow.
Finally, option eight is focusing on inventory levels (assuming you're not a pure service based firm) and working with the suppliers to optimise stock levels. One example of this is a contingency stock management agreement with the suppliers whereby stock is only paid for when used. We see lots of companies buying excessive levels of stock (sometimes because they've been attracted by a lower unit rate by buying a larger volume) which may give the buyer a positive feeling if measured purely by unit price achieved (tick) but eats into cash flow (cross). The negative impact on the cash flow may negate the cost reduction, so the buyer needs always to consider cash flow impact when making decisions on stock volume commitment.
by M Roper | 3 August 2015
Posted 14 July 2015 | | 0 Comments
In this article, Richard Bradley outlines the changes in credit card processing charges across Europe, explains what these should mean for your business, and shares expertise on how best to ensure you don't pay over the odds or get fenced in.
Why are the changes taking place?
In anticipation of EU regulation to align charges for processing card payments in Europe, Visa and MasterCard are making changes to their transaction fees across all card types over the next 12-18 months. The important thing to bear in mind here is that the ruling only affects Visa & MasterCard and what they charge your merchant services provider (WorldPay, Lloyds Cardnet, Barclays Merchant Services etc). Visa's charging will also have the same tariff for chip & pin and a secure e-commerce transaction, which is good news if you trade on-line.
However, here's the main point. Your merchant services provider is not restricted under the EU ruling in what they decide to charge your business!
What are the changes?
Debit Cards - From 1st March 2015 Visa moved its charges for debit card payments from the fixed pence per transaction charge, to a charge which is mainly % based.
This is good news if your business is accepting debit card payments with a transaction value below £35, as it should mean a reduction in what you currently pay as a fixed pence per transaction charge. As an example a transaction at £10 which was previously charged at 19p, should reduce by over 40% to nearer 11p.
If the cost of your goods or services is above £35 it will result in an increase, with significantly increased costs the higher the transaction value. An example here would be a transaction value of £200 which was previously charged at 19p and will now be charged at over 50p, which is an increase of over 250%.
Visa have introduced a cap for higher transaction value payments, however the merchant services providers won't necessarily pass this on to you! You could therefore end up being charged over £8 for a Visa Debit Card transaction of £2000, where a cap would have reduced this to £1 for a secure chip & pin or e-commerce payment.
Key fact - Over 70% of card transactions in the UK are on debit card and this will only increase as the switch from cash to cards continues and contactless payments increase, so the pricing for debit card payments will become more important.
Credit Cards - These are currently charged as a % so you'll be used to paying anything from 1.1% to 2% on a transaction depending on the card type (business, premium, personal).
The great news here is that these charges will reduce over the next 12-18 months and as it's already a %, the savings should be reflected in all transactions no matter what the size (assuming your merchant card services provider passes a fair % of this reduction to you!).
MasterCard are reducing their charge to your merchant services provider gradually over the next 12 months and Visa are expected to reduce their charge in one go, in 2016.
The great result for you should be that your credit card transaction charges should have reduced by 20-30% by the end of 2016.
So, what should you be doing?
Be alert and know what you're paying - Now is the time to read carefully any correspondence you receive from your merchant services provider. In particular, check your merchant services statement from April onwards to see what impact the Visa Debit Card pricing has made to your charges.
"Marry in haste, repent at leisure" - Contracts can be for up to 5 years and although you can move your card processing the cost of cancelling is very likely to be prohibitive. So, before signing any new contracts or signing with a new merchant services provider, whether directly or through a sales agent - ensure you find out what their policy is re capping large debit card transactions and whether they will pass on the credit card reductions due in the next 12-18 months? Alternatively, find an advisor who is prepared to take the time to really understand your requirements and can secure tailored flexible solutions e.g. perhaps by selecting hardware that is "unlocked" or provider agnostic, keeping your options open to switch later if needs be.
Seek independent expert advice - Be careful not to use a broker or sales organisation which is potentially conflicted. Now is the time not to be sold headline rates and the service element really matters, more than ever before. A good specialist should ensure that debit card caps are provided, that lower rates are applied for low transaction amounts, and that you secure the reductions in credit card pricing when these happen. They will know in advance and rather than just alerting you and they should use their muscle to ensure you benefit to the max when rates are changing.
Finally, stay in touch with technology - It's moving ever faster in this area. Make sure your specialist keeps your business up to date with the latest payment terminals, mobile solutions and payment gateways for on-line business.
by R Bradley | 14 July 2015
Posted 22 June 2015 | | 0 Comments
When we start discussing indirect cost management for the first time with a Board of Directors, we're often told that they think they've got "a great deal" or that "they're really busy at the moment so now isn't the right time to consider joining a Buying Group."
For those who agree to join however, it soon transpires that their great deals weren't necessarily so great after all. And they also discover that far from having to spend more time, our support has actually saved them a lot of time.
But how is this so? Well first of all, most companies have never compared their "deals" with other companies. So other than being told by the suppliers, they can't validate their claims. The harsh truth is that most small and medium sized companies aren't attractive enough to the supply markets to achieve the best value deals because they don't spend enough. Only by joining forces with others can they achieve a step change value improvement. That's the role played by a Buying Group.
And what of the Time argument? So many organisations forget how much time is taken conducting procurement exercises. In the need to 'get 3 quotes' precious staff time is taken up, even though the best deals in the market place will still elude them at the end of the process for the economies of scale reason mentioned above.
Imagine what benefits your company would enjoy by reallocating staff time previously focussed on the necessary evils of indirect spend towards more business critical issues which will help grow the business profitability.
So we say to Boards of Directors: save time and money by joining a Buying Group. Tap into its buying power AND refocus your staff on what's core to your business success (they'll be more motivated too!) You will always be busy, there will never be a moment when you're time rich so let's act today. Besides, what would your business do with more cash and more time? For more details get in touch...
by Matt Roper | 22 June 2015
Posted 10 June 2015 | | 0 Comments
Thanks to the buying power of BSA Buying Group, we have negotiated exclusive discounted rates with the award winning Business Travel Direct for all our clients. Our offering includes discounts off hotels, exclusive fares and specialist support for your business travel requirements, as well as access to an online booking tool for all your travel needs. Joining BSA Buying Group means you can get to grips with your company's travel procurement and save both time and money.
Win 2 Eurostar Tickets to Brussels
How do you fancy winning a pair of Eurostar tickets? Travelling to Brussels in standard class, and returning in standard premier at any time in 2015. To enter, just click the link below and complete the 'Managing your Business Travel' survey which will take no more than 2 minutes. Deadline for entry midnight Friday 31st July 2015.
How do I access the Travel Booking Service?
To access the Travel Booking Service, as well as accessing the other 20+ cost cutting categories within BSA Buying Group, give us call and we will get you signed up. Membership costs as little as £41.25 + vat per month, with savings of up to 35%.
by M Roper | 10 June 2015
Posted 13 March 2015 | | 0 Comments
Buying Support Agency is concerned that many companies may lose out on millions of pounds worth of business rates rebates thanks to a proposed government legislative change at the end of March. Our Client Director, Graham Dickinson, talks about the issue in today's article in the Daily Telegraph Click here to read the article
What can my firm do to ensure we don't lose out?
Please don't delay - if you want us to lodge an appeal and ensure your firm doesn't lose out, call us on 0845 555 3344 or email us with your contact details and one of our team will call you straight back.
by G Dickinson | 13 March 2015
Posted 2 February 2015 | | 0 Comments
The government has recently announced a proposal which, if carried through Parliament, will save the Exchequer millions of pounds in business rebate rebates...but this is bad news for businesses who are being overcharged.
It is proposed that if the Valuation Office (who set the business rates valuations) receive a business rates appeal on or after 1 April 2015 then the earliest they will back date any changes is that date. The billing authority (i.e. the local council) will only backdate any business rates rebate to that same date. Businesses will continue to have full legal rights to appeal their rating assessment.
The Valuation Office advised on 22nd January 2015 that "Legislation to give effect to the changes has yet to be enacted so specific detail of how the revisions will operate is not yet known". But the view is that the government wishes to rush this legislation through before the election.
Reductions negotiated as a result of appeals submitted by 31st March 2015 will continue to be backdated to 1st April 2010. So you can see the importance of getting your appeal in quickly otherwise your company could lose out on significant rebates going back five years.
So don't let the Exchequer keep hold of money that should be your company's! Act now by giving BSA a call (0845 555 3344) or email us and our business rates expert will then get things moving quickly. There is no upfront fee and only on successful appeal, BSA will take 35% of the total retrospective rebate received from your local council. The clock is ticking...
by L Franklin | 2 February 2015