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Category: Restaurants

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The Top Benefits of Standards-based Purchasing Systems

The use of standards-based purchasing systems is a well-received concept in the hospitality industry, with hotels and restaurants using the concept to enhance the overall guest experience.

The key benefit with standards-based purchasing is performance as operators engineer menus, concepts or themes. Operators can use standards-based purchasing systems to ensure that their food product selections are consistent and respond to the changing preferences of customers. Other key benefits include improved financial performance, better guest satisfaction and consistency in preparation.

So how can hotels and restaurants employ standards-based purchasing to offer the greatest value to their guests?

1. Reach out to guests for their feedback before making large-scale changes. According to an article on The New York Times website, hotels are developing new ideas by going straight to their guests for immediate feedback.

Some operators conduct tests in a fluid, trial-and-error way, testing ideas in certain areas of the hotel or with certain products to gauge guest reaction. Many operators look to their group purchasing organization to guide them through this process. Others simply poll their guests to get feedback on food or the overall experience.

For example, according to The New York Times article, La Quinta Inns and Suites improved customer satisfaction scores simply by focusing on the two most common complaints with its free breakfast: a lack of healthy menu choices and a setup that was difficult to navigate. After trying various layouts, and then surveying guests, La Quinta found it only needed to change the layout of the breakfast, not the selections.

2. Schedule a test drive via a short-term promotion before making it a permanent fixture on the menu. Standards-based purchasing systems can help ensure the product works in concert with the menu, resulting in consistent yields, grades and flavors.

3. Engage experts in the field.  Operators have myriad issues to address from HR to landscaping.  By engaging a Group Purchasing Operation, the operator can access their experience and insights to identify the key attributes of products and measure the value for both the guest and the operation. The GPO can assist in the implementation of  standards-based purchasing to stabilize consistency, engineer quality and strengthen business.

Source1 Purchasing can help operators with menu tastings and promotional testing to determine the effect of a combination, flavor profile or promotion. Standards-based purchasing systems can help engineer and analyze ingredients to define performance criteria while determining value. This is often a crucial factor for decentralized hotels and restaurants that are highly dependent on individual chefs. With standards-based purchasing, the knowledge stays with the property should the chef leave for other opportunities.

By using a group purchasing organization like Source1 and employing standards-based purchasing, you can continue to improve the guest experience.

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6 Purchasing Best Practices to Implement Today by using a GPO

In the hospitality and food service industries, there is a saying that amateurs buy often, but professionals purchase only once.

Some small to mid-size operators spend a great deal of time and effort buying instead of purchasing. When making a shift to purchasing best practices, you can access experience and information that will contribute to your success — purchasing is educated acquisition while buying is informal shopping. And a group purchasing organization can help operators transition to a more advanced procurement method.

Here are six purchasing best practices, along with reasons why you should adopt new buying habits.

1) Purchasing is about studying the products: Moving from buying to purchasing starts with education about product performance, value, security and sourcing. By studying these points, you can find answers to questions that improve guest satisfaction while increasing profits: How can you offer new products or find new dishes that demonstrate revenue growth? How can you increase your average guest check while lowering food costs? How can you create signature dishes that attract and retain guests?

2) Purchasing maintains product value and performance: The key difference between buying and purchasing comes down to this — buying is attaining products while purchasing is the management of products. There’s a contractual element to purchasing, which can guarantee elements like price, yield and grade, determining factors that ultimately make the product more successful. While buying usually creates product inconsistency, purchasing improves product quality and results in higher guest satisfaction scores.

Consistency is a crucial component of a successful operation, stemming not only from using quality ingredients, but also from having a reliable staff, according to an article on the Culinary Arts 360 website. “No one wants to chance eating at an establishment that has a dish perfect one night, and a mess the next,” the article states. Purchasing ensures a favorite dish will always include the same quality ingredients.

3) Purchasing as a group leads to extra discounts: Group purchasing organizations like Source1 can help operators with their purchasing model. By combining purchasing power from different operators, Source1 can present to an operator the latest r rebates, allowances and incentives on a variety of products across all areas of their operation.

4) Purchasing leads to information sharing: Group purchasing organizations help operators share knowledge and exchange reviews. Source1 Purchasing performs a business review every quarter with clients to evaluate savings that were realized and what potential they have for additional savings.

5) Purchasing is a tool for improvement: Operators that move toward a purchasing methodology can focus on continuously refining the process. Instead of buying the cheapest brand on the market, they can choose an item — say a standard chicken breast — and then work with that item to make it great. Once operators move to a standards-based purchasing model and create a new baseline, they can work on improving it.

6) Purchasing offers better return on investment: During the recession, many operators re-engineered their menus to focus more on ancillary items like salads, soups, appetizers and desserts. Profit margins are better on these products and they offer greater flexibility to introduce new ideas. These operators increased their margins by offering exciting new desserts with a cup of coffee or other beverage. This was a direct result of purchasing and its related analysis, demonstrating the great return on investment of group purchasing organizations.

There are many sound benefits to implementing purchasing best practices. The bottom line is that if you’re simply buying products instead of purchasing, you’re not getting the most for your dollar, and possibly save the wrong products at the wrong price. As an authority in GPO best practices, Source1 Purchasing can get guide you away from buying and toward purchasing. Plus you’ll have access to the resources, tools and leverage of a powerful purchasing program.

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Turn to a strategic sourcing organization for popular ethnic cuisine

The cultural evolution of American society is reflected in today’s most popular food trends. A strategic sourcing organization can help hotels and restaurants serve authentic, fresh, ethnic foods that today’s guests want.

According to an article on The New York Times website, sales of ethnic foods rose 4.5 percent from 2010 to 2012, to $8.7 billion. The article also states that market research firm Mintel predicts additional growth of 20 percent in ethnic foods on store shelves between 2012 and 2017.

Asian and Hispanic foods are at the top of the list of the most popular ethnic cuisines, according to hospitality expert Dan Admire. While there have always been ethnic restaurants in the United States, these foods are now being prepared with a high degree of authenticity, largely because people are well-traveled and have access to more information. Just consider the number of cooking TV shows, the explosion of web resources like epicurious.com and overflowing shelves in the culinary section of any bookstore. Some people are on a quest to master the preparation of exotic recipes.  Others enjoy the programs, websites and books as a source of education or information.  And armed with this new learning, they expect some level of authenticity when dining out.

Authentic ethnic cuisine is especially important at hotel restaurants because of the broad range of customers. Admire suggests working with what’s already on the menu, but elevating items to the next level. For example, if your operation offers nachos on the menu, consider adding other items like pork carnitas.

Well-known food companies, such as the Campbell Soup Company, Frito-Lay and even fast food giants like McDonald’s, are introducing products with more colorful flavors. Chuck Vila, vice president for customer and consumer insights at Campbell’s, told The New York Times that ethnicity is influencing the buying decisions of millennial consumers (ages 18 through 30-something) because they have grown up with everything from salsa to sushi.

Food-and-beverage companies are investing heavily in transforming their product lines to capture international business and the demographic shift. Keeping up with this type of trend does not necessarily mean higher food costs for your operations. A strategic sourcing organization can help you access lower prices without losing quality. By partnering with a strategic sourcing organization like Source1, you will be able to locate and offer foods that are unique to your hotel or restaurant.

Current trends also include some very unusual but amazing blending of cultures. For example, China Poblano in Las Vegas offers an innovative take on Chinese and Mexican food from Chef José Andrés, notes Admire. In Boston, Ming Tsai has opened the Blue Dragon, a self-described “Asian gastropub” serving dishes such as short rib pot stickers and Asian sloppy joes.

At hotels, as Admire points out, guests are seeking new and exciting dishes that showcase the flavors of the world. That’s why it’s important to offer them a variety of ethnic foods that are fresh and, above all, taste great.

But as a hotel or restaurant operator, you might be overwhelmed with trying to figure out the perfect recipe or combination of foods that will satisfy your customers. With a little planning, and the help of a strategic sourcing organization, you’ll find the support to locate these ingredients at a fair price. And with a new, expanded menu, you’ll be able to attract new customers and stand out from the competition.

Diners are putting more importance on a restaurant experience that offers fresh, exotic dishes. Get to know your customers. Learn about the places they’ve been and the foods they’ve tried. You may be surprised by the spark of an idea that an experienced travelers offers which can turn into a show stopping addition to your menu.

Then work with a strategic sourcing organization to change things up with new and exciting recipes. You will begin to satisfy the diverse palates of your guests, meet their expectations and brand yourself in a new way.

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Why Should You use a Sourcing or Purchasing Company to Access Essential Food and Beverage Items?

Do you have a strategic purchasing process in place to maximize signature items on your menu without overspending or wasting food?

Food and beverage sourcing or purchasing services for the hospitality and foodservice industries play a vital role in the success of all restaurant operations – both associate with a hotel or resort, and self-standing. You have so many options when it comes to selecting products.  Add a strategic plan that you consistently use and you will be able to control your food costs.

According to an article on the StarChefs.com, Chef Chris Chung of AKA Bistro in Boston’s Lincoln Park summarizes his method to control food cost into four basic principles — “order as necessary, maximize each ingredient, cook seasonally and have more than one vendor.”

Chung also trains his employees to use every piece of a product and be creative with the scraps.

In the same article, chef Zach Allen, head of the kitchen at three Las Vegas restaurants, shares that he has been able to actually lower food costs at all of his restaurants by knowing his inventory, ordering wisely in bulk and training his staff to diligently practice portion control.

It is possible to consistently serve quality, delicious food and even offer new or seasonal items with some planning, testing and preparation. Hospitality sourcing or purchasing services, such as those provided by Source1 Purchasing, help track your food cost so you can focus more energy on serving customers.

There are three parts to the product selection process you need to consider: the ingredients, the recipe and menu planning.

Although the building blocks for selecting the right products are essentially found in these three areas, each element certainly has its own focus of quality and standards.

The Ingredients

For example, turkey breast comes in a variety of products, from premium, naturally basted turkey with little salt added down to a chunked and formed turkey roll. And these varying levels of products will apply to everything from butter to vegetables.

Ingredients are essentially the foundation. For ingredients, you’d be looking at a product’s flavor profile, yield and brand.

The Recipe

The recipe blends these ingredients in combination to ensure consistent flavor notes are presented in a consistent fashion. Recipes are normally proofed and tested to make sure they’re consistent in flavor profile and harmony. But how you spice one dish at a restaurant varies greatly from how you’d spice a large-volume dish for a college cafeteria.

The Menu

Finally, the menu offers a variety of items that reflect the concept and theme of the restaurant. It brings together all of the elements from the ingredients and recipes that the operators have selected.

Restaurants need to regularly conduct promotions and product testing to determine which new products will work support the theme or concept. These promotions allow the operator to see which new products can most improve the guest dining experience and offer instant feedback. Successful promotional items can be incorporated into the regular menu, ensuring that offerings are always evolving.

Every menu should include signature items that reflect the character of that establishment. These items demonstrate the restaurant’s uniqueness and offer a standout experience that helps to attract repeat customers.

This is where the primary benefit of smart purchasing practices comes in. Operators can deliver high-quality branded products — preferred products that every diner wants — for the price that they used to pay for medium-quality products. These high-quality products help restaurants create a strong reputation and deliver consistent service. Restaurants now have the ability to use a better-quality product and create better-tasting meals, allowing them to enjoy the halo effect this casts over their entire operation.

As you continue to improve your food and beverage operation, consider the benefits afforded by sourcing services or purchasing insights from companies like Source1 Purchasing. They work alongside their customers to procure or purchase the best ingredients at the best price possible from well-known suppliers that are known and trusted. That way, you can focus your attention of growing your business and exploring new promotions…confident that you are delivering a quality, memorable dining experience for your guests.

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How can Strategic Sourcing Help You Find Specialty Products and Create Signature Menus?

New food and beverage trends are finding a place on hotel menus because travelers today want to maintain their same eating habits when they are traveling for business or pleasure. . On a larger scale, these various trends challenge operators to keep current with the f&b trends and change their standards when the time is right. With a strategic sourcing or purchasing plan in place, it’s easy to handle the changing expectations of guests and deliver the right products at the right time ….and at the right price.

Even simple trends like free breakfast can have an impact on operations across the industry in certain levels. Take a moment and consider this…how many hotels offered a free breakfast 20 years ago? Today, it’s expected by travelers who frequent certain brands at certain levels. Research has demonstrated that, if the hotel rates are about the same, a guest will choose the hotel with the free breakfast. These expectations give operators important insights to consider.

How do you offer a quality breakfast at a reasonable cost?

Once an operator overcomes consideration for trial-and-error or even addresses a possible reluctance or fear of change, then their hotel can begin to explore new ideas that support the trends and keep them on track to be competitive.

The key is for operators to look to a strategic sourcing or purchasing resources like Source1 Purchasing to examine what they’re purchasing and see where they can save money. Operators need to identify the types of products that will help them engineer a food and beverage operation that delights their guests. If operators find the many other aspects of running a hotel operation to be all consuming of their time, they have the option to engage experts in the field of purchasing to guide them on new products, new trends, and special offers by nationally known brands.

Operators should consider the advantage of supporting new trends like gluten-free and organic foods that are in demand and may drive more sales. These products can help operators create a more desirable experience for their guest – a great source of word-of-mouth referrals.

According to an article on the Los Angeles Times website, the FDA has set specific guidelines for gluten-free products because one-third of Americans are embracing this diet. That’s a number that deserves the attention of all operators who offer food service. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is estimated that approximately 3 million Americans have been diagnosed with celiac disease, meaning they cannot digest foods containing gluten. Even people not restricted to this diet as a result of celiac disease are eliminating gluten from their diet.

According to an article on Celiac.com, numerous hotels, including the Ritz-Carlton chain, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts and Omni Hotels & Resorts, have been changing their menus and providing comprehensive training to their employees.

“For a number of years, there’s been a growing recognition of people with gluten intolerance,” says, Stephen Rosenstock, senior vice president of F&B for Omni Hotels. He also notes in the Celiac.com article that gluten-free options don’t have to cost hotels more money. It’s all about sourcing differently and planning for it.

More operators are responding to these new trends and searching for these gluten-free, organic and other specialty products at a reasonable price. Operators are looking to strategic sourcing and purchasing organizations to help them source products like Bars, organic fruits and vegetables and specialty ingredients. Source1 Purchasing helps their customers source these products via direct manufacturer agreement that deliver the most favorable quality.

It’s not just about Clif Bars. Source1 helps operators find the unique products and services that the brand or the operator defines to consistently maintain the overall guest experience including a signature dining programs. Operators have the flexibility and autonomy to select the products they need to keep their food and beverage program aligned with current trends. With the help of a strategic sourcing and purchasing organization like Source1, operators can identify the products that will help them create a unique and memorable experience at your facility.

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Turn to a Strategic Sourcing Partner to Boost your Social Responsibility Efforts

Consumers have become more aware of their environment, their health and how their choices impact these areas, and they want to patronize businesses that reflect their personal values. Social responsibility is rapidly becoming an important part of business as more consumers look for these programs when choosing which companies to do business with.

Now, more than ever, you need a strategic sourcing partner to help navigate the process of identifying the best suppliers, prices and quality products to meet these needs.

According to an article on Forbes.com, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming mainstream and routinely practiced by large corporations as well as small locally-owned companies. Business owners are reporting that employees are happy to be contributing to their communities. For the most part, their business has actually increased because of their charitable and green efforts.

Hotels are also joining the growing social responsibility trend for businesses in the U.S. An article on the Green Lodging News website highlights how major hotel brands have been embracing these social values to make a difference at their hotel properties, in their communities and beyond. According to the article, MGM Resorts International and Marriott are just two examples of hotel giants leading the way in this movement.

For example, MGM and Cirque du Soleil have united to support the mission of the organization One Drop, which is to promote awareness of the importance of clean water. Meanwhile, Marriott partners with the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity International, Feeding America and SOS Children’s Villages. In 2011, Marriott associates worldwide donated more than $30 million to charitable causes and volunteered $9 million worth of their time.

Major hotel brands are also encouraging meeting planners to blend team building with volunteerism at their events. According to the Green Lodging News article, Katie Brashear, director of public relations for the Westin Phoenix Downtown and Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, works with planners on a regular basis to create social responsibility activities. And Marriott-owned Ritz-Carlton properties offer Give Back Getaways, where guests combine volunteer work with their stay.

Guests want to know what you are doing as an organization to promote a sense of community. Do you contribute to local or national charities? Do you sponsor a little league baseball team or youth soccer event each year? Do any of your employees volunteer in the community?

These choices tell guests that your hotel or restaurant is really connected to the community and sends a message that you care about how your organization is viewed in the community. This involvement also sends a message that you’re interested in more than your own bottom line.

If your hotel or restaurant is considering charitable work, look for a charity that fits who you are. A restaurant may want to consider working with the food bank or an organization that promotes locally-grown food. A hotel may want to partner with the local chamber of commerce, a disaster relief effort or a charity that addresses a local need like a children’s school supply drive.

You can also weave social responsibility into your purchasing decisions. Work with a strategic sourcing organization like Source1 Purchasing to identify and buy from regional suppliers. Many groups are looking at “buy local” initiatives for food and products to support the local economy while also minimizing the transportation costs and carbon footprint caused by trucking items across the country.

Source1 can provide you with strategic sourcing solutions that honor your promise to your guests and elevate your visibility through social responsibility. When guests realize you are aware of their environment and their health, and that you genuinely care and want to make a difference, they will in turn choose your hotel and become a loyal guest.

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The Evolution of Co-sourcing in the Hospitality & Foodservice Fields

In the past businesses have turned to outsourcing to gain assistance with controlling costs and managing operations tasks. Over recent years, outsourcing has begun to receive negative connotations due to the idea that control is given up once the decision to outsource is made.

However, a new trend is emerging in the hospitality and food service industries that allows owners and operators to remain in control while still being able to minimize cost risks and increase product and service consistency, which is co-sourcing.

By definition, the term co-sourcing is a business practice where a service is performed by a staff from inside an organization and also by an external service provider. Co-sourcing, unlike outsourcing, doesn’t involve simply handing work off to a third party. Instead, co-sourcing is teaming up with an external service provider to make food and beverage purchasing operations tasks easier, more efficient and cost-effective.

For instance, co-sourcing may involve supplementing the internal purchasing staff with a specialized skill, such as order entry program implementation services, which provides centralized standardization across the purchasing platform. Doing so would help in-house and culinary departments to ensure menu consistency and optimized cost effectiveness for the field operators.

“Part of our co-sourcing design is to have the management staff in a quarterback position,” says Scott Hoffmire, president of Source 1 Purchasing. “Management is on the front lines and expressing their needs, challenges and expectations to us, which allows us to help them navigate and get the best product fit with optimal pricing.”

Co-sourcing allows for a procurement specialist to harness the entire supply chain in order to meet specified needs, while allowing owners and operators to remain in control of the decisions. Unlike outsourcing purchasing, which can be seen as surrendering, the co-sourcing formula works in that it keeps the buying power in the hands of the owner or operator.

In addition to helping owners and operators meet sourcing and procurement needs, co-sourcing helps to protect the brand’s promise and reputation. “On top of procurement management, owners and operators are also in charge of guest experience, the overarching theme and various promotions,” says Hoffmire. “Since we are operators serving operators, we are able to offer industry know-how and the ability to maintain a brand’s reputation through co-sourcing, which can take the powerless to powerful.”

For more on Source 1 Purchasing’s strategic procurement solutions, contact us today at 901.334.4000.

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