In conversation with Ramakant Verma, Purchase Manager, Holiday Inn Jaipur City Centre
Strong networking should be developed with vendors from different cities to ensure cost-effectiveness whilst staying updated with new products being introduced in the market
Tell us about COVID lockdown impact on the purchasing department of your hotel?
While the hotel was temporarily closed to arrivals, we, as a department, utilised this time by networking with different vendors not just from the city but also from other key markets. We conducted deep market research to determine the best available products in the market.
This yielded our results while executing a smooth and well-prepared reopening of the hotel. We are managing a planned and organised supply in our hotel while seeking quality assurance of the products from our vendors. We have a detailed departmental SOP wherein the receiving process is well led and monitored closely to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and valued guests.
How has the domain of purchase changed with the COVID-19 outbreak?
To be well-assured about the quality of the products being delivered at the hotel, purchase managers need to stay updated with the health and safety guidelines issued by WHO and local authorities. Strong networking should be developed with vendors from different cities to ensure cost-effectiveness whilst staying updated with new products being introduced in the market.
I strongly believe these difficult times have helped me develop as a purchase manager. We not only have expertise in his area but also have enhanced deep knowledge of product specifications before we introduce them to the management. Each product is directly associated with the health and safety of our colleagues and guests.
How strong should be a hotel’s local procurement process, given the current situation?
We have a formed a local procurement process team consisting of executive chef, hygiene manager and procurement manager, who review the source of procurement of editable items while keeping a check on the safety measures adopted by them.
One of the most crucial components of the procurement process is the selection of the right supplier. A good supplier is an invaluable resource for the organisation that requires its products or services, as they make a direct contribution to a firm’s success. Sourcing local products is now an established strategy with a motive to promote ‘Go Local’, helping to save transportation costs and other expenses attached to it.
How do you identify high-risk vendors?
Generally, the vendors dealing with the sale of products or services involving essential components, who cannot be substituted as this would lead to guest dissatisfaction and revenue loss, are considered as “High-Risk Vendors”. Moreover, during such a pandemic situation, where health and safety are our topmost priority for both colleagues and guests, we are following strict safety guidelines, including a check on vendor’s location, thermal screening, and sanitization of products, health declaration, and status on Aarogya Setu App.
Regarding the products delivered by these vendors, we maintain records such as temperature records, in-house lab test reports, regular vendor site audits, etc. Also, to minimise the risk involved while dealing with such vendors, we prefer dealing with our contracted vendors, who, at all times, are honest and fair while dealing with customers, delivery of supplies within the promised deadline, and also with the price points.
Have you introduced any new technology to deal with the new normal times?
In my belief, between the hotel and the product/services providers, my role as a purchase manager becomes crucial for the timely availability of essential products, while determining quality assurance and hence attaining profitability of the organization.
To encourage contactless process in the system, I have introduced a virtual sample process in which the product specifications are shared via elaborative videos/pictures for further approval. Also, new normal amenities such as acrylic shield at the front desk to maintain adequate distancing between colleagues and guests, Foot bath sanitiser mat, foot-operated sanitiser station, disposable cover for electronic devices stationed in rooms and certain F&B adaptations such as e-menus, digital payments, biodegradable food tray for in-room dining, disposable paper mats for restaurants, and so on.
These preventive measures will ultimately enhance colleagues and guest satisfaction and will help us in doing our bit to stay safe.
What are the various measures/ compliances initiated to save cost?
Deep market research and networking with different vendors for procurement of newly developed products yielded us magnificent results in terms of cost-saving.
Various options for the purchase of PPE kit were evaluated for about 10 -12 vendors from different cities considering the high and ongoing requirement for the product. We have re-negotiated prices with the existing vendors because of limited requirement. While keeping a check on the closure to date expiry products, the items were open to the sale for the team members at purchase cost. Switching of brands was done to ensure that the quality of the product is maintained for cost-effectiveness.