Whether you’re working in a restaurant, bar, hotel or some other hospitality-based business, procurement is an ever present issue. You need to make sure you’re well stocked on anything from food and alcohol to glasses and dishes to towels and sheets, to a host of other hospitality supplies, for whatever situation may arise.
Some items are seasonal while others are needed year round. Some procurement needs come up unexpectedly while others remain constant. But however you look at it, it takes a lot to maintain a strategic procurement management plan.
Here are 4 tips for strategic procurement of hospitality supplies:
1. Learn to Project Demand
In any strategic procurement situation, it’s important to know your market and be able to project your needs. If you buy too little of something, you’ll run out too quickly and people won’t be able to get what they need. If you buy too much, it will end up sitting around taking up space, perhaps even for months, without being used. Either situation ultimately leads to a loss of money for your company. Understanding the demand for each item you procure will help you forecast exactly how many or how much you need to buy at a time, and when you need to restock to ensure that delivery happens before you run out.
2. Go for Value not Savings
One of the keys to procurement management is saving money. But what many people fail to realize is that saving money and buying the cheapest products often work at cross-purposes to one another. The cheapest products will fail more quickly and need to be replaced more frequently, and may cause more problems than they solve in the meantime. Shop around, do some research, and find out which products are truly the best value, offering the best quality for the best price. You may pay a bit more at first, but it will help you save a lot more in the long run.
3. Make a Schedule
Fall begins Pumpkin Spice season. Strawberries are popular around March, and stay through the summer. One shipment of decorative soaps from your supplier lasts about a week and a half, but the order takes three days to process. These are just a few of the many factors that can make a particular order time sensitive. Can you keep every single factor in your head, and be prepared to place each order at the exact time it’s needed?
Unless you’re superman you probably can’t! Try to create a calendar or scheduling application that allows you to lay out every item you need to procure and set reminders for when you need it, so your company always has what it needs, when it needs it.
4. Build Relationships
Who are your suppliers? They’re not just faceless companies. They’re people whom you have to deal with in order to get the products you need. Get to know these people and build relationships with them. Work with them to help you meet your needs and get what you’re looking for. They might be able to help you find something that you couldn’t on your own, or recommend a better solution. And a loyal, friendly customer is more likely to be connected with a special deal than a hands-off customer.
Strategic procurement in the hospitality industry, even more than in other fields, isn’t just about keeping specific items in stock. It’s about keeping customers happy and comfortable by anticipating their needs and catering to them, often even before they ask. Therefore, strategic procurement management should embody all of those things. The way you handle procurement speaks volumes about your company. What does your procurement strategy say about you?
About Michael Wilson
Michael Wilson is AFFLINK'S Vice President of Marketing and Communications. He has been with the organization since 2005 and provides strategic leadership for the entire supply chain team. In his free time, Michael enjoys working with the Wounded Warrior Project, fishing, and improving his cooking skills.