Purchasing Pro Tips: From P.O to Delivery

Updated: Oct 29, 2019

Purchasing Pro Tips: From P.O. to Delivery

We all know what purchasers do, they purchase! But knowing what they do is very different than understanding how they do it. So, we spoke to a couple of purchasing experts to find out exactly how they spend their days.

Hint: It’s a lot more involved than shopping for pretty things.

Turns out, there’s a lot of management and skill required to ensure projects come in on time, on budget, and feature products that can live up to the rigors of hotel living. Here’s some tips gleaned from these pros:

It’s A Harder Job Than Most Realize

Being a successful purchasing agent means, among other things, keeping the project moving forward by keeping everyone engaged in the process, says Adam Blue, Senior Project Manager, Procurement with The Gettys Group..

“There’s a lot of cat herding to get everyone on the same page with what you need for the project, plus you must find the right partners to do that with you,” says Blue. He suggests establishing strong go-to relationships with partners you can trust to always come through job after job. “Finding those people takes time and patience, so have a willingness to endure. But once it does happen, it really helps create successful projects.”

For Nancy Smith, Senior Project Director with The Parker Company, she finds big challenges in every aspect of the job, but especially in strategic planning to align owner’s tight schedules with gathering all of the components that lead up to a successful project outcome. Product lead times figure large in the overall project’s evolution and the fundamental importance of starting as early as possible. Developing the shop drawings for custom items, arranging for the prototype to be produced and reviewed is critical. The shop drawing is the backbone of most of the room’s design. Understanding what you’re buying is paramount.

Time is Essential

Getting from purchase order to delivery is usually a process taking longer than a hotel owner typically expects. It’s especially true in the four and five-star market, which most likely is creating custom product.

“It’s essential to manage client expectations,” says Smith, who notes that many times she is working with investors new to the hospitality business. That means an extra level of guidance with timeframes, for example. “Be very realistic, we want to avoid any fire drills as these cost the client money.”

Blue says sometimes to meet tight deadlines, compromises must be made. “It’s the age-old compromise, we need this in two weeks and at half the cost,” he says, explaining the Gettys team works with suppliers to find flexibility to slip in a job at a point when manufacturing scheduling would allow, for example, you must have options at the front of the project, such as value engineering to save time and money.

The Right Vendor Means Everything

The right vendor partner enables the procurement professional to do the right job.

“Luckily, we work in a business where the supplier base goes very deep in certain categories. When purchasing Casegoods, they must last for a long time, usually more than the seven to 10 years between typical hotel renovations,” said Blue.

“When we look to select a vendor, we consider the history with them, anything relative to negative and positive implications, price, and fit of that vendor into the project. We do a tremendous amount of research to qualify new vendors with a multi-faceted analysis such as performance. It is about project compatibility,” says Smith.

Get it Right

As CAD has become the industry design standard, purchasing professionals are more apt to rely on vendor expertise in taking ownership of getting these drawings right.

“The designer cannot be relied on for engineering expertise; we rely on the vendor and our depth of experience to guide us. That being said, if a three legged barstool is specified, and if the vendor’s engineer team is not comfortable with that, we expect the vendor to speak out. If they do not, it becomes a liability issue,” explains Smith. 

Warranties Work

Blue says a warranty is a key component of the buying process. “It’s a huge thing. While we make sure everything is delivered and stands the test of time, the only way to be protected over time is a comprehensive warranty. Ensuring there is a fair balance between how long a supplier will warrant is essential,” says Blue.

Smith agrees, saying while one year warranty is OK, two year warranties are ideal. Samuelson, of course, provides a 3 year warranty.

Time is Essential

Getting from purchase order to delivery is usually a process taking longer than a hotel owner typically expects. It’s especially true in the four and five-star market, which most likely is creating custom product.