When was the last time you really analyzed your hotel’s purchasing strategy? Although placing orders might be a more routine, mundane requirement, it also can be an opportunity to seek out easy ways to save money. Today may be the right day to tune up your purchasing practices.

Keeping up with hotel trends is necessary, but can be costly if there is no system in place for regular evaluations and price comparisons. You can manage your purchasing more efficiently and still impress guests by considering every aspect from the 10,000 foot view of annual plan to the detail of using precious storage space wisely.

Sounds overwhelming, right? Who has time to focus on this one area when running a hotel has many different operational requirements? When you consider how many different products are used on a regular basis at your hotel, yes, it could appear overwhelming. There are great solutions that allow you to manage like a pro with minimal time investment.

Operators who want to systematically improve their purchasing should start with a “5 item tune-up.” Take time to figure out what products are used the most at your hotel operation and how much is spent on those products. Your distributor or purchasing department would generate a report listing your products and their related unit costs and quantity purchased for a period of time. Then sort the highest costs to the lowest costs…

Typically, restaurants and hotels spend 40 percent of their food-and-beverage budgets on the top 20 items on that list. But by doing the “5 item tune-up,” operators can reap some significant benefits by looking at just five products a month.

Start by breaking down the top 20 products into main categories like beverages, dairy, bakery, etc. Then take 5 items and compare each item to Source1 Purchasing’s list and identify opportunities to get the lower price by participating in the Source1 program, or switch to a similar product on Source1’s list and save through a lower contracted price and/or receive rebates.

This approach makes it easy for time-crunched managers to save money without having to invest hours of time chasing down deals. You can easily make informed decisions using the information that group purchasing organizations publish on their products and prices.

Hotel and foodservice operators need to always validate where they are in terms of purchasing, and this ties into commodities. Evaluating your purchasing doesn’t have to be a stressful process. By breaking it down into five products a month, operators can start saving money without an overwhelming investment of time.

According to an article on StarChefs.com, you can raise prices to control food costs, or you can organize your storage room and keep inventory to a minimum. The article also encourages hotel operators to cost out the menu, and price the high cost-percentage items accordingly.

Operators are always trying to get better products and prices on their food-and-beverage purchases to drive better results in their programs. Many times, they’ve made purchases based on a distributor’s recommendations… Group purchasing organizations like Source1 work with manufacturers and distributors to provide information about the range of available products.

Operators can work with their group purchasing organizations to take advantage of tool and resources to tuneup a purchasing department. Operators benefit with a shift to being more progressive in their purchasing and implement best practices to make sure they’re staying current with trends like the impact of commodity items on food prices.

In order to retain a competitive edge with other hotels and restaurants, you need to use every tool available to you. Continue your “5 item makeover” on a regular basis until you have successfully analyzed all of the products on your shelves. The StarChefs.com article also suggests that you take inventory weekly, especially if food cost is a recurring problem for your organization.

Remember the 1-5-12 rule:

  • Once a month, every month
  • Review 5 of the top items your operations uses
  • Find time 12 months a year…your knowledge and your savings will grow steadily.

Together, you and your group purchasing organization can develop a strategic plan for your operation to manage purchasing more efficiently and save money while creating better value for your guests.

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