Business OverviewFor businesses that use large amounts of utilities, fees can be truly outrageous, especially when you realize that companies routinely pay thousands--even millions--of dollars for incorrectly billed phone, water, gas and electric services. Meters get read improperly, amounts miscalculated, or the wrong data entered. And because most accounts payable people have neither the time nor the understanding to interpret the jumble of taxes and charges at the bottom of each bill, all this money gets unnecessarily paid out over and over again. But if you're a detail-oriented person who likes getting to the bottom of financial matters, you can save the day as a utility and phone bill auditor. You'll not only check for billing errors but also analyze clients' usage patterns and pinpoint areas for savings, and recommend discounts and alternative services that can save money. The advantages to this business are that you can start part time with low costs, you won't have much competition, and it's recession-proof. It's also a good sell to potential clients because they don't pay you anything unless you find refundable errors or ways to save money--your fee is a portion of the refund or savings they get from your expertise. You'll need a clear understanding of how phone and utility service billings work--from tariffs to taxes to customer, energy and fuel charges. And since you'll make at least part of your money by recommending discounts or alternative companies, you should have up-to-the-second knowledge of the various suppliers available in your area and their rates and discounts or other perks. And you should have the financial creativity to design and recommend money-saving alternatives for your clients.
The MarketYour clients can be businesses of all sizes and descriptions, but your best bet will be to aim for high energy consumers like hospitals, hotels, restaurants, schools and other institutions, dry cleaners, coin laundries, and 24-hour supermarkets. Direct-mail sales letters and brochures to these companies, then follow up with phone calls. You can also send brochures to business consultants, accountants and others who can refer you to their clients. Network among professional and civic organizations and write articles for local publications.
Needed EquipmentAbout all you need to get started is a computer with a laser printer, the usual office software and a good calculator.