With high energy prices always being a cause for concern, RN spoke to a top retailer who has made major savings as business costs continue to soar.

“A lot of housekeeping rules,” is the way that Coventry retailer Paul Cheema describes his money saving strategy. While this doesn’t have the attention-grabbing qualities one might expect from a major business improvement, a culture change based around “housekeeping rules” has contributed to a massive saving on energy bills. “With energy prices going up this year, I’ve managed to maintain my direct debit, which I’ve worked out is worth £1,800 a year,” he says. The best part of his effort is the fact that, save for a few hours researching online and putting up some reminders around his store, this approach to money-saving hasn’t cost Paul a penny.

My savings in numbers

Total cost of investment
£0

Staff training
0%
(incorporated into team meetings/ discussions)

Annual cost of electricity for lighting slashed from
£1,800

Percentage change to electricity bill
2-3%

Energy price per unit
11.7p

STEP 1:

Looking at our energy bills

“When I got my new energy prices through, prices had obvi- ously gone up so I went on to the internet to look for ways to cut my usage and found a site, www.utilitywise.com.” The company sends out stickers to businesses for free, which Paul could place around his store to remind staff to cut usage. “They’re just simple bright red stickers which say things like ‘reduce our energy bills, switch it off’. I’ve put them by all the light switches in the staff areas, the toilets and the store rooms.”

STEP 2:

Get stickering

“Finding where to put these stickers was a simple process – the biggest saving was from our walk in chiller, because my staff used to just leave it open and it would chill the whole storeroom.” Not wanting to spend money consulting experts if he could afford not to, he went through this process. “Why do I want to pay someone to come into the store when it’s knowledge I could be creating myself?” he asks.

STEP 3:

Change your ways

“Any of the fridges that don’t need to be on are switched off at night, such as the wine chiller and the soft drinks chiller. The fridge doors are now being kept shut and the lights are going off,” says Paul of the ways in which he brought new working practices into his business. Talking through his changes, why he was making them and using existing team meetings for discussions avoided the need for expensive training.

STEP 4

Enjoying the results

Reducing your costs is reward enough for a business today, but Paul has seen an unexpected added benefit from his changes. “My staff have bought into this to the point where they’re using these ideas to save money into their own houses,” says Paul. It’s a testament to the success and the simplicity of the changes he’s made to his business, changes which are keeping his overheads down at a time when prices have rocketed for many.