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:

MARCH: Human Resources: Inspiring a Journey of Success

Sandy Asch

Baby boomers, Gen Xers, and especially Millennials, who now make up more than 50 percent of the workforce, want a sense of purpose at work. It’s clear that today’s workforce is increasingly concerned with doing good. People are tired of just showing up every day to perform a job. They want lasting fulfillment at home and at work. In his book, Drive, Daniel H. Pink suggests that we are in a time where individual desire to have a positive impact in the world often ranks higher than pay scale when selecting a job. Millennials, in particular, want to feel like their work has real purpose, and they want to be home for dinner. READ MORE

Whitney Martin

As new properties explode on the scene and traveler choices abound, hotels know they have to pull out all the stops to make every guest experience a positive one. Are staff friendly are courteous? Are rooms clean? Are meals excellent? Are bills accurate? We rely on our employees to execute their jobs, not just correctly, but with enthusiasm. And, if they don’t, business suffers. We do our best to hire good people (in a competitive market), we give them a little training, and then we HOPE they create raving fans. Ever heard the expression “hope is not a strategy”? READ MORE

Joyce Gioia

Worldwide, the hospitality industry is going through a transformation. In response to workforce shortages, many employers have looked for---and found---ways to reduce staff by using automation. Despite this trend, there are continuing shortages of skilled workers from front line housekeepers to general managers. Hospitality leaders are looking for and finding innovative ways to find the talent. This article will give you an overview of what’s working for general managers and their human resource professionals to find the people they need to staff their properties. READ MORE

Paul Feeney

A recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, showed that close to 3 million people voluntarily quit their jobs a couple of years ago, a 17% increase from the previous year, proving that opportunities for employees are abundant and we have shifted back to a candidate-driven marketplace. Why is this important? Employee retention should always be of utmost importance, but requires awareness as to why employees leave to begin with. Numerous statistics show that the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a disconnect or poor relationship with their boss or immediate supervisor or manager. This shows that turnover of staff is mostly a manager issue. READ MORE

Coming Up In The April Online Hotel Business Review




Feature Focus
Guest Service: The Personalized Experience
In the not-too-distant future, when guests arrive at a hotel, they will check themselves in using a kiosk in the lobby, by- passing a stop at the front desk. When they call room service to order food, it will be from a hotel mobile tablet, practically eliminating any contact with friendly service people. Though these inevitable developments will likely result in delivered to their door by a robot. When they visit a restaurant, their orders will be placed and the bill will be paid some staff reduction, there is a silver lining – all the remaining hotel staff can be laser-focused on providing guests with the best possible service available. And for most guests, that means being the beneficiary of a personalized experience from the hotel. According to a recent Yahoo survey, 78 percent of hotel guests expressed a desire for some kind of personalization. They are seeking services that not only make them feel welcomed, but valued, and cause them to feel good about themselves. Hotels must strive to establish an emotional bond with their guests, the kind of bond that creates guest loyalty and brings them back time and again. But providing personalized service is more than knowing your guests by name. It’s leaving a bottle of wine in the room of a couple celebrating their anniversary, or knowing which guest enjoys having a fresh cup of coffee brought to their room as part of a wake-up call. It’s the small, thoughtful, personal gestures that matter most and produce the greatest effect. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.