Hospitality Managers know protecting their brand image is the most important part of their jobs. Brand image ranks as one of the highest priorities in the industry because it is a reflection of everything companies do. A brand image should be consistent from property to property, reflected in everything from fliers to registration forms to the confections left on the bed pillows. A brand image reflects the perception the public has of the property, and even a subtle shift in perception can affect a property’s image and, ultimately, its bottom line. Shifts in perception are largely caused by differences from property to property or even within just one property itself, resulting in brand image changes or brand corruption. Simple things, like the soap used in a property’s room in Florida should be the same as the soap used in a property’s room in California. Customers expect consistency. They form a certain perception or image of a business, so properties that may be experiencing shifts in image need to review their business processes, especially their purchasing cycles because the purchasing process is an area where image or brand corruption can easily take place.
Brand corruption is big problem, especially among multiple property businesses because in larger organizations, management orders become less and less clear as they trickle down through the hierarchy. If managers are forced to improvise due to lack of clarity in the purchasing process, brand corruption can easily occur. Maverick spending, spending with unapproved vendors, paying too much – all of these things can start a downward spiral of quality and image if clear cut policies are not in place. As hospitality businesses become more global and, therefore, more complicated to run, manual processes must make way for automated business processes, especially in the area of purchasing. Hospitality businesses that have automated purchasing cycles realize not only brand image consistency, but also process improvement, accountability and huge dollar savings in time and materials.
What else can purchasing automation do?
Purchasing automation takes out the guesswork out of ordering. With parameters pre-set by management, consistent, rules-based software takes over the process of ordering goods and services. Managers place orders through approved catalogs in the software. These management-approved catalogs contain pre-negotiated pricing and volume discounts. Outside of the built-in catalogs, portals exist to allow managers to tap into other catalogs that have been pre-approved. When several properties order from the same vendors, rather that each property ordering from different vendors, economies of scale are reached, and the cost savings is very significant. Because purchasing software takes away the opportunity for maverick spending, substitution, inventory shortages and the like, managers are assured that every item or service the property buys is consistent with the brand image, budget and corporate goals.
Purchasing automation may sound like a revolutionary new idea, but it has been around for almost three decades. In the hospitality industry, automated purchasing systems have historically occupied a low position on the value chain. This is unfortunate because the hospitality industry is the type of business that can really benefit from automating the purchasing process.
Keeping up with purchasing, inventory, supplier management, sourcing, contract management, receiving and other tasks involved in the purchasing process is simply not possible if the facility is on a manual system. This is one big reason why multiple properties get in trouble with brand consistency. The material management process has grown too big and too complicated to run on a manual process. Automating the purchasing cycle can change this, but it requires a paradigm shift – from thinking of purchasing as a unilateral function to promoting its value as the one process in the company that has a complete vision of the entire business and is able to greatly control brand image throughout the organization:
Procurement needs to strategically position itself as the only aspect of the corporation that truly has a 360- degree lens on the entire business. It has a full scope view into the directions of the enterprise because it has touch points with all the internal stakeholders. In addition, with its ongoing dealings with the external stakeholders -vendors – it has additional insight into the marketplace – trends, opportunities and pitfalls. Vendors are often clients and/or competitors, which further enhances the focus on the business lens. (Patricia J. Moser-Stern)
Bellwether Software has helped many businesses in the hospitality industry. Purchasing Management eXtra establishes Quality Control that mandates procedures be in place that establish protocols for ordering goods and services that are consistent with the brand image and corporate goals.
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