Ms. Locke

Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment

How to Get Your FF&E Supplier to Deliver Improved Transportation Results

By Amy Locke, Director, Interior Design, Hatchett Hospitality

FF&E consists of several distinct steps or stages. It starts with design, proceeds to purchasing, then culminates with transportation and installation.

Each step requires its own specialized attention to detail, yet too often the most forgotten or overlooked aspect of FF&E purchases is transportation - namely, the costs and logistics of delivery.

When the economy was vibrant and hotel occupancy was strong, hoteliers were primarily interested in getting FF&E orders delivered and installed quickly. They were less likely to notice or question the amounts on their invoices that were labeled "transportation."

Now with an economy that's temperamental and hotel occupancies that are fluctuating, hoteliers are watching their cash flow carefully and trying to stretch every dollar - and one of the places they are looking for savings is transportation charges, which usually run 10% to 15% of an FF&E purchase depending on various geographic factors.

There are actually two parts to transportation - (1) cost and (2) handling damage. So let's see how hoteliers can get their goods to a job site for lower shipping cost and with reduced handling damage.

What Should Happen With Your FF&E Order

When you place an FF&E order, your supplier should shop for the best source based on several criteria. Cost is certainly an important factor, but other considerations on your behalf should include quality of the product, reputation of the manufacturer for service after sale, and proximity of the factory to your job site.

If this last point is not properly considered, it can cost you unnecessary shipping dollars. For example, consider the FF&E supplier who purchases from a manufacturer on the east coast for a job site that's in California.

The geographic distance between factory and construction site doesn't even have to be this extreme for a hotel owner to be paying more than necessary for transportation. Add to this the fact that longer trips have the opportunity for more shipping damage.

So why don't purchasing agents always buy from a factory that's conveniently located to your site?

Maybe the FF&E agent has a "sweetheart" relationship with the manufacturer. Maybe the purchasing people don't have the experience or expertise to properly look for "best source" manufacturers. Or maybe the FF&E company simply isn't paying proper attention.

Whatever the reason, it's the hotel owner that pays the price - and that's not right.

To reduce costs, plus to minimize transportation problems in the FF&E process, a few FF&E suppliers go the extra mile - literally.

A supplier that operates its own fleet of trucks and trailers can reduce both the amount of costs and the amount of handling.

If they can also arrange delivery to the job site exactly when the product is needed for installation this will also minimize expenses. If the product arrives too early, there is an increased risk of damage as it is shuffled around the construction site awaiting installation. If the product arrives too late, there is a domino effect that delays other aspects of the project.

In today's economy, hoteliers want suppliers who work hard physically but also work smart mentally. Evaluate your FF&E supplier according to some of the tips we've discussed here and you'll have a company who is working both hard and smart on your behalf.

Most importantly, you'll save dollars on FF&E transportation - dollars that you can spend some other way.

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...

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