Ms. Locke

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment

Making the FF&E Process Less Stressful and More Efficient

By Amy Locke, Director, Interior Design, Hatchett Hospitality

Now as owners and managers prepare to spend money to catch up on deferred FF&E expenditures, they must make an important decision - who is going to manage the process. The choice may very well determine whether their project comes in on time and in budget, and whether they get the best value for the dollars spent.

In-house Staff or Outside Professional?

If you consider having an in-house staff person handle your FF&E purchasing, you should also consider (1) whether that person has the appropriate experience and expertise, and (2) to what degree the person's other responsibilities will be impacted or neglected.

More and more owners/operators are coming to the conclusion that they want their staff people to concentrate on marketing and on enhancing the guest experience - while having a professional purchasing company devote its time and skills to managing the multiple details, special nuances, and tedious paperwork of the FF&E process.

When selecting a purchasing company, remember that this firm is going to be your partner for hundreds of decisions and thousands of dollars in expenditures - so select someone you feel comfortable working with.

For example, every hotel brand focuses on slightly different details and requirements in its FF&E package. You want a purchasing agent who is familiar with your flag, but who will still represent your interests as the owner.

Also, be aware that some FF&E companies are more full-service than others. Most just do purchasing - only about one-third can enhance the purchasing function with in-house design services, and fewer still can also coordinate the logistics of your FF&E installation and transportation.

Clearly, a full-service FF&E company will get you the most "bang for the buck" because design, purchasing, installation, and transportation are all centralized in one contact person. Think of this as a "safety net" or "layer of value" that you don't want your FF&E project to be without.

Exactly how does an outside purchasing agent add value?

First, by helping to choose the right product for every application - and then finding the best source for that product. Experienced professionals look not only at initial price of a product, but also how well the product will hold up under active hotel usage.

For example, purchasing a table or chair or bed or other item may seem simple. However, there are literally dozens of manufacturers for every type of hotel product - not just in the United States, but in Canada and Mexico, and even in Europe, Asia, and South America.

A professional purchasing agent knows the advantages and disadvantages of these various manufacturers - including but not limited to reliability, shipping costs, craftsmanship, durability, and pricing.

As your partner in the purchasing process, your FF&E agent should explain to you the difference in "hard" costs between various manufacturers - namely, price. However, you and your FF&E agent should also review the difference in "soft" costs - namely, poor quality or late delivery - which can quickly eat up any price savings and which can actually double or triple the real cost of a product over its usable life.

There is no hard rule of thumb, but a good purchasing professional can extend your original budget by 10% to 20% - plus considerably reduce your headaches and sleepless nights.

Don't Forget Transportation and Installation

Unfortunately, poor scheduling and shipping logistics can undo all the benefits of a cost effective purchase. If orders do not arrive on time and in the proper sequence, your rooms may be held out of inventory longer than necessary. And that's why you're in business - to rent rooms.

It's important to use an FF&E supplier with integrated transportation, operating its own fleet of trucks and trailers. The benefits to hoteliers include direct pick-up from manufacturers, then staging products at a central warehouse for consolidated delivery, if necessary.

This reduces truck traffic at the job site, and also means that products are delivered exactly when they are needed for installation, not early so they can get damaged and not late so they will delay a job. Still other benefits of using an FF&E supplier with integrated transportation are reduced handling of goods and therefore reduced damage.

Installation is the final step of FF&E - and too often it's overlooked or is an afterthought. The reality is that a product is of no value to you and your guests until it is properly installed and ready to use.

Most FF&E companies don't deal with installation. A few will sub-contract the work to outside vendors. Only a very few have their own team of installers on staff and it's these firms that offer you the most advantages.

Summary

Hotel owners want to stay competitive and in compliance for the least amount of money. For them, "value" means price.

Hotel guests want to stay in a place that offers the amenities of home while being friendly, tasteful, and meticulously maintained. For them, "value" means ambiance.

An FF&E professional can help meet the expectations of both owners and guests - and that will pretty up your hotel and your bottom line.

Amy Locke is director of interior design at Hatchett Hospitality. She works with franchisers and franchisees on a wide variety of hotel brands, styles, and themes – from economy to luxury, from resort to business conference, and from traditional to modern. Previous to joining Hatchett, she held a position in interior design with Ethan Allen Interiors. Ms. Locke earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the Art Institute of Atlanta. She is completing a degree in feng shuiand is an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Ms. Locke can be contacted at 770-227-5232 or Amy@HatchettHospitality.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

AUGUST: Food & Beverage: Going Casual

Mathias Gervais

Sometimes new is old, and old is new. In time for the 2015/2016 Miami Beach season we, together with our new Ownership, launched Jaya, a modern Asian cuisine restaurant whose concept was made to be a true departure from a traditional luxury hotel restaurant. Jaya, which means 'victory' in Sanskrit, was chosen by our team to honor The Setai Miami Beach’s renowned interior designer Jaya Ibrahim and the hotel's first decade of successful Asian-inspired hospitality. My sous chef, Vijay Veena, and I collaborated to create dishes that much like the Hotel, did not focus on just one Asian country but featured cuisine from a number of Asian regions. READ MORE

Jonathan M. Raz

When it comes to dining at hotels, guests immediately consider their restaurant, bar and in-room dining options, but there is a new movement taking hold in the hospitality industry: fast casual dining. This trend presents hotels with an opportunity to engage with guests and staff while creating added value, providing guests with an abundance of dishes to explore without leaving the property. Internally, these menus encourage team members to experiment with new cuisine and showcase their culinary talents. Ultimately, fast casual dining allows guests to rediscover food as a social experience, where they interact with staff and other guests while sampling dishes rarely seen on sit-down menus. Hotels can take advantage of the fast casual trend in countless ways. READ MORE

Adrian Kurre

Many hotel guests enthusiastically book rooms online, bypass a front desk check-in with their digital room key, and choose to receive their bill via e-mail in an effort to streamline and control their own experience – and at Hilton we support (and have led the charge on!) many of these innovations. At the same time, human interaction remains the crux of hospitality. And hospitality is, after all, a main driver of guest satisfaction and repeat business in our industry. Year after year the J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM has shown that the number of interactions guests have with hotel staff READ MORE

Thomas  McKeown

Faced with new, demanding guests, hotel restaurants are relying on local sourcing, quality ingredients and authentic experiences to return to the glory days of hotel dining. Not all that long ago, the best dining you could find in any city in America was in a hotel. In cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, even in my city of Atlanta, grand hotels offered acclaimed restaurants known for their fine cuisine and memorable experiences. People got dressed up to enjoy steak and lobster, oysters and fine wine. For their discriminating guests, chefs served surprises like shrimp cocktail, baked Alaska and smart cocktails. READ MORE

Coming Up In The September Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Group Meetings: Demand is Trending Up
Corporations and businesses are once again renewing their investments in people, strategic planning, and training and development. As a result, all indicators point to 2016 being a robust year for the hotel group meetings business. Group demand is strong and rates, especially during peak periods, are trending up. Still, hotels must continue to evolve to meet the changing expectations of group meeting planners and their clients. There are several trends and factors that are driving decision-making which planners have identified as being essential to the process. Though geographic location and room rates continue to be the most important factors when selecting a host property, food and beverage choices are becoming increasingly influential. Planners understand the value of first-class culinary options as these are often used to facilitate networking experiences. Another critical factor is the availability of sufficient bandwidth for high-speed wired and wireless connectivity to the internet. In addition, in an effort to eliminate unsightly and unwieldy power cords, planners are requesting the installation of mobile-device charging stations. These portable charging stations (which do not require devices to be plugged in) can be conveniently placed in common areas or directly in meeting rooms. Finally, there is a greater emphasis on teambuilding activities that are intended to challenge groups, and bring them closer together. Some hotels are offering scenic walking trails, GPS-aided scavenger hunts, kayaking into secluded coves or rollerblading on oceanfront boardwalks, among many other recreational activities. The September Hotel Business Review will examine issues relevant to group business and will report on what some hotels are doing to promote this sector of their operations.