Strategies for Navigating Through FF&E
By Roger G. Hill Chief Executive Officer & Chairman, The Gettys Group Inc. | October 28, 2008
The acronym FF&E hardly seems adequate to describe such an important part of hotel development. Furniture, fixtures, and equipment can make or break your guests' experiences - and your budget. Cost overruns and time delays are typical in the FF&E purchasing process, and mismanagement of procurement can even set back the opening of your hotel.
The procurement process is more than just numbers and phone calls. You are called upon to make countless decisions, from settling on an overall aesthetic with your designer to choosing a procurement agent to agreeing upon a budget and timeframe for installation. Resources are precious, time is money, and outcomes are critical. That's why it's essential to approach the FF&E process with a strategy to maximize your resources. It is possible to prevent or prepare for the common roadblocks in FF&E purchasing.
Never underestimate the importance of project management. An organized, efficient procurement consultant makes a world of difference in the purchasing process. You don't want to be surprised with unnecessary cost overruns and delays, and your procurement partner should plan for any and all contingencies. Frequent and detailed reporting - on the information you need to know - is essential, and you must demand transparency in the FF&E purchasing process. If there is a setback, you need to know what it is and how it will be resolved, so you can make adjustments as needed and be confident with the progress of your hotel development.
Choose vendors you trust. If you work with vendors with a good reputation and a track record of sticking to your established timeline and budget, you're much more likely to have a positive procurement experience. It's okay to use new vendors, especially as more green sources break into the industry, but make sure you do your homework. Contact friends and colleagues, check the message boards, ask your designers. Learn as much as you can about the company you're dealing with before signing a purchase order. Once you have a positive experience with a vendor, you can continue the relationship with your next project.
Even better, partner with a procurement company that has a library of established vendors. Gettys shares its vendor library across offices - and continents - and catalogues pre-qualified green vendors for projects with a goal of LEED-certification. Long-term supplier relationships bring you top-quality goods with preferred terms, production timelines, and delivery arrangements.
Let the economies of scale work for you. Whether you are a national chain or independent boutique hotel, you can stretch your FF&E dollars by leveraging the buying power of a procurement agent. Even if you won't be buying large quantities, a firm with hundreds of projects under its belt can use its industry footprint to get you the best price.