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Chapter 7: The Top Energy Risk Management Questions to Ask Your Energy Provider

Energy procurement managers are in the driver's seat when shopping for a procurement plan. They assess their business' fuel portfolio, review current pain points and waste, and decide which vendor supplies the best solution for their organization.

As an energy procurement manager, you're spearheading this growth initiative with many objectives in mind. Cost-savings and competitive advantage are significant motives. Yet these improvements come with time and commitment. Energy procurement managers must first select the right vendor to bolster success and make those cost-savings and competitive advantages guarantees, not guesswork.

Pick a vendor with confidence by asking all suppliers the same energy risk-management questions.

Top General Energy Risk Management Questions to Ask Suppliers

General questions should give energy procurement managers a sense of a supplier's background, their service offerings, sourcing methods and overall business approach.

1. How Many Years Have You Been in Operation?

More years in business doesn't always mean more quality. Yet there's comfort in a partnership with someone whose services have spanned the years, deepening their client resume, their business acumen and their experiences navigating the energy market.

2. Where Do You Source Your Fuel?

For CFOs and small business owners it may be extra pertinent to grasp where your new fuel deliveries are coming from.

3. What Are Your Pricing Structures?

Does the vendor offer fixed, variable, blended, swing or indexed financing plans to pick from, or just one pricing type? Do they offer other, more customizable pricing structures?

4. What Kinds of Industries or Businesses Do You Work With?

A vendor servicing similar businesses and industries means they're familiar with your fuel demands and processes. Account managers will likely be more fluent in industry-specific compliance and energy regulations.

Note that many energy procurement companies provide industry-minded fuel asset packages — such as commercial agricultural solutions or warehouse fueling accounts — but won't likely service one and only one industry.

5. Do You Offer Energy Procurement Brokerage Service?

Your company’s specific challenges and goals may make a broker a better fit than a supplier. Some companies, like Shipley Energy, offer direct supply and also provide a brokering service. This helps ensure that buyers get service and support that meets their unique needs. Ask your energy provider if they can do the same for you.

6. Are There Additional Fees or Service Charges Associated With a Contract?

Understand what features come standard in procurement contracts and which are add-ons. As with any vendor, it's essential to communicate your company's energy needs and service expectations to assure a smooth and successful partnership.

Top Energy Risk Management Questions by Role

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Use the following role-specific questions when vetting potential energy procurement companies to get the answers you need — and see the growth you want.

1. If You're a Facility Manager, Maintenance Manager, or a Senior Technician, Consider Asking:

  • Do you have experience in my industry and familiarity with our needs?

  • Given the state of the energy market, which contract term and financing package would you recommend?

  • What kind of customer support offerings do you provide? Next-day delivery? 24/7 emergency operations? Automated deliveries and refills?

  • Do you offer any guarantees?

Learn more about the unique advantages of energy procurement services for facility managers.

2. If You're a Fleet Manager, Director of Transportation, Fleet Management Supervisor, Driver Administrator or in a Similar Role, Consider Asking:

  • What short and long-term fleet cost reductions can I expect with a new contract?

  • Do you offer complementary fuel-savings support, such as weekly, monthly or annual consumption reports, fuel card programs, vehicle usage or other reports?

  • What is your delivery area?

  • Do you do truck-to-truck or tank filling?

Explore more ways to reduce fleet costs and maximize your fleet management budget.

3. If You're a Purchasing Manager, Procurement Officer, Supply Chain Manager, Supplier Relations Manager, Category Buyer or Contract Administrator, Consider Asking:

  • How are invoices, orders and purchasing documents managed? How will I have access to or handle energy purchasing and billing-related paperwork?

  • What transactions and paperwork do account managers take care of, and what falls in my lap?

  • What customer support services and channels are included with my contract?

4. If You're a Small Business Owner or Entrepreneur, Consider Asking:

  • What sets your energy packages apart from others in my area?

  • What is the average cost savings other business of my size see when switching to your services?

  • What aspects of billing and documentation remain my responsibility, and which will you take care of for me?

Discover energy-savings incentives and awards your business may qualify for.

5. If You're a Chief Financial Officer, a Chief Operations Officer, a Director of Finance or in a Similar C-Suite Position, Consider Asking:

  • Do you offer compliance advisory services on changing energy regulations in my industry? What about industry-specific consequence mitigation packages or strategies?

  • What are my company's or industry’s key energy risk threats, today and tomorrow? How do your energy plans address and mitigate them better than competitors’?

  • What are the average cost-savings that organizations in my industry see when switching to your services?

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