Business woman, mother, wife and fluent speaker of French, there is little that Commercial Director at business energy benchmarker Troocost can’t turn her hand to.
With over 10 years’ experience within the utilities and energy industry, Rachel Richardson has joined forces with husband Andrew to redefine the utilities sector offering fairer and more transparent pricing for businesses on their energy renewals without any of the hidden fees typically added by brokers.
Moving into the utilities sector after securing a degree in Business and French at Keele University, Rachel’s first role was as Account Manager at EIC (Energy Information Centre) in the Midlands where she spent over seven years managing a number of high profile industrial and commercial clients including large retailers and manufacturers.
An all-encompassing role, and one that would stand her in good stead for her future position at Troocost, it is here Rachel was given the chance to work across a number of areas of the business overseeing client services including account management and fixed and flexible energy procurement. It was in this role she was also given responsibility for overseeing a team of Relationship Managers looking after a client base of over 200 clients as well as lending her support to business development campaigns and compliance related issues.
With later roles including becoming Commercial Manager in the partner channel at Utilitywise who acquired EIC in 2013, she also spent some time away from the sector to start a North East buy to let property business before having her daughter Florence in 2016. Not busy enough or ever one to rest on her laurels, Rachel also used this time to develop the concept for Troocost alongside husband Andrew which was successfully launched in 2017.
Very much a people’s person at heart, Rachel attributes her success in the industry to her ability to forge close working relationships with all her clients and staff. Having empathy, strong communication, being on the client’s page at all times and finding solutions that work for them is important to Rachel. That and a cheeky sense of humour that admits to a love of all things Alan Partridge and an enviable skill of being able to recite most of the show’s iconic lines! Rachel said;
“You have to have a sense of humour in business. Our staff at Troocost work very hard but we also make sure we invest time in making it a great place to work.”
Partridge aside, Rachel is proud of her deep knowledge of the sector, something she has used to benefit her clients and help shape the strategic direction of Troocost. She proudly reflects on the impact their services have had on one particular client, whose trust in brokers was shattered after Troocost’s benchmarking system revealed just how much he was being overcharged – over £20,000 per year to be exact; a saving that has since been recovered through his renewal with the business.
With some surprising insights into the ethical and operational practices of other companies within the industry, the husband and wife duo set out a clear ambition to do things differently at Troocost, developing clearer and fairer pricing with values that extend throughout every cornerstone of their business. Rachel said;
“There were a number of areas within the energy broker industry we felt uneasy about, most notably the lack of transparency around pricing and hidden commission rates that would be passed unknowingly onto the customer. It was this uneasiness that led us to want to do things differently.”
Asked of her experiences and challenges faced being a woman within what is sometimes considered a largely male dominated sector, she acknowledges.
“Generally, I have felt I have been able to achieve whatever I wanted and that is certainly the case at Troocost. It’s a real team ethos here where everyone’s contributions and opinions are valued.
However, it would be dishonest of me to say I hadn’t witnessed instances of gender inequality or stereotyping in my time. From large pay discrepancies between the sexes, set roles for women, to a lack of female representation in the boardroom, it felt like a man’s world at times.
Rachel anecdotally recalls her colleague Margaret’s sound business advice.
“Margaret was a big advocate of women having a place in the boardroom encouraging me to attend but was adamant that if I did, it must be without a pen in hand!
It sounds ridiculous and one that makes be laugh to this day, but Margaret had a valid point and concern born from experience that taking a pen to the meeting, may increase our chances of being asked to take minutes!
As Commercial Director Rachel has responsibility for a range of different areas at Troocost including recruitment, business development, account management, brand and marketing. She has also successfully established an affiliate programme with a number of trade associations including offering services to farmers and agricultural organisations which is apt, given Rachel’s background as the daughter of a sheep farmer. Asked of her ambitions for the next 12 months she comments;
“It’s such an exciting time in the business. We have doubled our client base within the last year and have ambitious plans for growth over the next few years. We are hoping to secure VC investment very soon which will support our plans for further growth and help spread the word about doing things differently.”
When not at the helm of a successful energy business, Rachel enjoys spending time outdoors, entertaining friends and family and travelling to favourite destinations including Portugal and Scotland. And it seems her farming roots are never far away with her love of animals and new additions to the Richardson family which include a cockerel and five hens! Rachel concludes;
“It’s certainly a busy life, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. There are exciting times ahead. We look forward to what the future holds and the next step of the Troocost journey.”