Using employee benefit schemes as a way of selling handsets to businesses has been a topic that has come to the fore recently. After announcing deals with John Lewis and Morrisons, distributor Exertis predicted that sales of its salary sacrifice schemes would soar by 300% in 2015, while employee benefits firm Personal Group acquired MVNO Shebang to bolster the company’s salary sacrifice capabilities (see page 8-9).
Busy Bee’s Benefits is one company that has actively sought to develop this market, identifying early on that the mobile phone contract had the potential to be a popular benefit for companies to offer their staff. The company has a great deal of experience in these kinds of arrangements, with its main product being childcare vouchers.
The company’s finance director Jo Daldry explained that such schemes have immediate appeal to employees and employers alike: ‘It’s a great deal for employees, who can save £500 on a contract, while employers don’t pay NI. If the company operates a bring-your-own device policy it also contributes to that – it’s a very cheap way for employers to give out phones.
‘The schemes use legislation that has been in place for a long time, allowing employers to give phones without incurring tax charges. We looked at the legislation and created a salary sacrifice scheme. Phones are the easiest and most obvious product for employers to use. People can have two phones, because if they already have a work device we can also give them a personal phone under the salary sacrifice scheme.
‘Already we’ve generated quite a lot of interest and have quite a few public sector customers working for it – it’s about getting the noise out there, letting people know. To date we have around 100 employers signed up to the scheme.’
The potential for Busy Bees to grow its customer base is significant, with 10,000 customers for its childcare vouchers already on the books. With childcare vouchers looking to be phased out, employers are looking for other ways to save on their national insurance, Daldry explains: ‘We are an employee benefits company. Our main product is childcare vouchers – that’s what we’re known for – we do that for 10,000 customers. But we also find that its employees driving it when they see the deals that they can get. The fact that we can offer handsets such as the iPhone 6 for under £30 really pushes it. We’re also able to bundle insurance and accessories into a 24-month contract – all of which makes it a particularly attractive proposition for the consumer.’
Any growth of Busy Bees customers will also benefit the firm’s fulfilment partner Voice Mobile. The unified communications dealer works with the salary sacrifice firm from the mobile side and, as Daldry explained, it’s an arrangement that serves both parties well: ‘Voice mobile is an effective partner for us to use, there’s no consumer credit licence and they also have a good existing relationship with EE [the network used to provide the