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How to properly identify opportunity through Re-Sellers without being taken advantage of.

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I receive numerous calls from various re-sellers (utility primarily) who offer to save me a lot of money. While I am interested in efficiency and cost savings, I am concerned that I will be taken advantage of since this is an area I am not familiar with. Other than the basic sales pitch on the phone, I can rarely get my hands on any literature or solid information to determine if these are programs worth pursuing. The idea of my providing copies of a year's worth of bills leads me to believe there is more of a fishing expedition going on than a real service being offered.

Where can I go for reliable advice on how to pursue these potential opportunities, before I have to sit through a sales pitch? 

Answers

Jeff Taylor
Title: CFO
Company: Communications Co.
(CFO, Communications Co.) |

I have never used one of these services but I have personally known people who do this and they were very much above board. This is no different than the benefits broker asking you for your company census so that they can bid your business out to Blue Shield, etc. You are correct that they are both "fishing expeditions" to the extent that neither you nor the service provider actually knows what they can do for you before they look at the details of your business.

To my mind it's all about trust and reputation. I would insist that they provide you multiple CFO references before you consider taking them on. In fact I would start the conversation that way so as to not waste time.

In terms of the benefit, I have heard from CFO friends that they have done billing studies at their own companies and they were well worth the cost and effort, but I'm sure that depends on the volume and value of the bills being considered. I always have my Controller or Payables Manager (depending on size of company) do some level of real-world validation each time we get a bill to minimize the need to do massive, outside reviews, but YMMV.

I unfortunately don't have any references handy for you or I would happily hand them over. I'm not sure who would have experience in this area (does not strike me as the sort of thing you would find referenced by your legal counsel or audit partner). That may be even more reason to just start the conversation with the provider on the issue of qualified references.

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