As with any relationship, establishing and maintaining a successful partnership with a local distributor in the hospitality industry requires diligence. Yet, too often, because hotel executives have so many other competing priorities, the research around finding the best local distributors might fall through the cracks.
Fortunately, partnering with a local distributor doesn’t have to be difficult. That is as long as you follow these seven tips hotels and lodges need to know about partnering with local distributors.
1. Find a Local Distributor that Believes in the Business of Hospitality
Partnering with companies—regardless of what they do—that are only concerned with making a quick buck is a recipe for disaster. You need to partner with people, whether they’re supplying bed sheets for your rooms or food for your restaurant, that believe in taking care of people.
At the end of the day, everyone’s in business to make money, but it’s those companies that take the long view and take care of their customers that you’ll want to associate yourself with. That way at the very least, your partners are driving towards achieving the same mission as you. It's always a good idea to share a common vision of achieving maximum customer satisfaction with your local distributor in the hospitality industry.
2. Verify their Business History
When you apply for a loan, the bank wants to know that you have a proven and detailed track record of generating income and paying bills. Since your local distributor will—in some part—contribute to the viability of your business, you should exercise that same level of due diligence. Talk to previous and current customers of your local distributor. Do some online research on your local distributor, their business becomes yours once there's a partnership. A little extra investigation will go a long way.
David Dayton, an expert in procurement, suggests using external websites to verify your distributor and to pay for background information and document verification.
3. Evaluate Their Delivery Capacity
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, your local distributor needs to give you what you need when you need it. Otherwise, you run the risk of your guests having a bad experience. And bad experiences can add up to poor revenue numbers and bad brand image.
As Casey Ueberroth, Senior Vice President of marketing at Preferred Hotel Group mentioned in a New York Times article, “The loyal, engaged guest is driving large amounts of revenue. If you take care of that guest, he keeps coming back.”
Make sure your local distributor understands and has the capability of delivering what you need when you need it so you’re always taking care of your guests and keeping them happy.
4. Communicate Early and Often
So many issues can be solved with better communication when it comes to local distributor partnerships. Don’t be scared to double and triple check with your supply partners. Worst-case scenario, you ruffle their feathers a little bit by being too curious. But that’s far better than the alternative of risking a miscommunication that results in an inventory shortfall with no backup in place.
5. Prioritize Local Distributor Location
When it comes to supplying your hotel reliably and on-time with quality products, it’s worth making the effort to find a logistically convenient local distributor. Even if the local distributor partners that are geographically closer to you price their products a bit higher, the added convenience may be worth that small price markup.
6.Don’t Overemphasize Price
Of course, you want to get the best possible deal with your local distributor partner. However, getting the best deal does not necessarily mean getting the best or lowest price. That’s because even if you get a low upfront price, you’ll be paying for that low price in other ways. The quality of service and products, as well as the reliability of your partner, will surely go down along with their prices.
7.Consider the Buying Experience
Hopefully, when you find a high-quality local distributor partner, you’ll work with them for the long haul. Which means you should make a careful evaluation of the buying experience with various suppliers. Do they have a convenient online system? Are they responsive to your needs?
You, or one of your employees, is going to be making purchases regularly, so make sure the buying process is convenient and operates smoothly. In today’s digital age, there’s no excuse for outdated, hard-to-use online shopping platforms.
Conclusion: Ask the Tough Questions
Ensuring a successful partnership with your local distributors is simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. However, so long as you’re not afraid to ask the tough questions, conduct due diligence, and work to maintain a good working relationship, you’ll have a great chance of long-term success and low risks of failure with your local distributor partners.