SMALL firms in the region could save nearly £200m a year if they look carefully at their costs, according to the Yorkshire Bank.
It says that only a third of the region’s SMEs review day-to-day costs, such as fuel and energy, more than once a year.
Those businesses questioned admitted they could probably find better deals if they shopped around but said that lack of time or loyalty to their current suppliers prevented them from doing so.
This is despite electricity and gas prices rising by 69% and 87% respectively since 2005 and Government predictions of a further 26% increase by 2020 compared to today's prices.
The average price of motor fuel has also risen by 44% in the last seven years.
Alan Young, a director for business and private banking with Yorkshire Bank, said: “Keeping a watchful eye on overheads is crucial to ensure business growth and profitability.
“With difficult trading conditions it can be easy to lose sight of some of the simpler ways of helping your business, but regularly reviewing costs should be top of the to-do list for any SME owner or manager.
“North East Small Businesses are facing daily cost increases, energy bills alone have risen by more than three quarters.
“Even relatively simple measures, such as making sure computers are switched off at night, rather than left on standby; all go towards bringing costs down.
“By concentrating on reducing the costs of the basics such as energy and fuel, North East SMEs can free-up the maximum amount of cash to be used elsewhere supporting their growth. And because these are simple steps, they are not time-consuming; it need be no more than a couple of hours once a month or even quarter.
“Our research shows that there are significant savings to be made without a huge amount of effort. And all of these savings avoid cutting quality, service or wage bills, leaving money to be invested back in to the business, which in some cases is going to be tens of thousands of pounds.”
Last year, North East SMEs which did review their costs and take action, saved an average of £6,940 by making simple changes such as adopting energy saving measures and moving to a paperless office.
According to the Carbon Trust, keeping one computer and monitor switched on constantly costs around £50 a year but by switching it off out of hours, the cost is reduced to £15.