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:

OCTOBER: New Developments and Best Practices on Maximizing Revenue Management

Angie  Dobney

You’ve heard the expression - "better late than never!"... Well it appears this expression may apply to a majority of the traditional hotel industry when it comes to embracing total revenue optimization. After years of dipping its toes in the water, the hospitality industry appears ready and willing to jump headfirst into a concept that, for more than a decade now, has helped many casino-hotels take their revenues to new heights – anywhere from 5- to 15-percent increases! Below are some of the key practices of casino-hotels that are applicable for traditional hotel to incorporate- READ MORE

Kevin Robinson

Packages are valuable marketing components that increase hotel awareness, create value for the guest, and often times drive room nights over need periods. The effectiveness of the package often is dependent upon the elements associated with the overall experience as well as the price point at which the package is offered. READ MORE

Michael  Brownsdon

Capital allowances are a widely misunderstood routine tax relief that taxpayers regularly fail to maximise. An in-depth analysis of capital expenditure on property assets, including their acquisition, can yield HMRC approved reductions in tax. Poorly defined terms for plant and machinery in legislation gives rise to the undervaluing and misallocation of qualifying assets within tax computations. Reviewing historical and current capital expenditure can result in significant tax savings in current years. READ MORE

Matthew  Goulden

The battle to tilt a traveler's decision in favor of a specific brand - be it for a supplier or an intermediary - continues to get intense. The focus is on identifying a "lead" as soon as it emerges in the digital domain, and that's where travel metasearch engines are showcasing their prowess. A travel supplier such as a hotel chain or airline needs to plan astutely for real-time hotel inventory availability/ pricing, and optimize campaign, budget and bid management. Since suppliers are dealing with an increasing number of traffic generation sites, associated costs have gone up. No category is feeling this more keenly than hotels. And importantly, a large component of this expenditure is going into competing with OTAs, either via brand.com or other channels such as metasearch. This is unproductive since travel suppliers are paying multiple times for the same conversions! How much to embrace the metasearch phenomenon is a topic of debate at hotel distribution conferences such as those held by HEDNA in January and June of this year. READ MORE

Coming Up In The November Online Hotel Business Review


Feature Focus
Hotel Sales & Marketing: The Heart of the Matter
Of all the areas of a hotel’s operation, perhaps none are as crucial, challenging and dynamic as the Sales and Marketing department. In their rapidly evolving world, change is the only constant, driven by technological innovations and the variable demands and expectations of a diverse traveling public. These professionals occupy a vast, multi-channel universe and it is incumbent on them to choose wisely when determining where and how marketing dollars are to be spent to generate revenue from all their multiple constituencies – individuals, corporate guests, groups and wholesalers. Complicated decisions are made and complex plans are devised, based on answers produced from intricate questions – What is the proper balance between Direct vs. Indirect Channel Sales? What kinds of resources are to be devoted to a comprehensive digital marketing program (website, email, social, blog, text and online advertising) on multiple channels (desktop, tablet and smart phone)? What are the elements driving local market conditions and how can local people be attracted and the local competition bested? How does an operation research, analyze and partner with group business generators, meeting planners, wholesalers, incentive travel companies, corporate travel departments, and franchise-sponsored marketing programs? How can effective sales incentive programs be implemented and how can a strategic marketing campaign be deployed? How are new sales leads prospected, qualified, sold and closed? The November Hotel Business Review will examine some of these critical issues and explore what some sales and marketing professionals are doing to address them.