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For catering and hospitality professionals, harnessing the right tools can help mitigate the impact of current challenges, such as staff shortages and prices impacted by spiking inflation in the new year.

Andrew Parsons, head of sales for Pelican Group Purchasing, shares five ways to increase efficiency and reduce costs for hotel operators.

Supplier and price management

Thanks to current market conditions, cost-of-living squeeze, and food inflation, operators tell us that they simply don’t have the time to monitor categories, suppliers and pricing adequately – it has the potential to be a team member’s full time job.

To work around this, seeking help from a procurement partner that has vast industry knowledge will keep you ahead of the game and add real value to your business.

Our team of experts negotiate competitive prices across food and non-food categories for our multiple clients and help them to manage ongoing supplier relationships. For example, our client Barony Castle was able to save up to £60,000 in the first year alone, as a result of enhanced efficiencies created by Pelican.

We also provide valuable market updates and whilst we haven’t got a crystal ball, we are well placed to make reasoned assessments. For example, knowledge of impending price rises or supply constraints can allow a general manager to plan menu changes proactively rather than reactively.

Centralise your operation with technology

Online systems are critical as we go into 2023, as they allow for quick decisions. We predict price inflation is here to stay for some time, so knowing how to reduce this impact by increasing time saving efficiencies in your operations will help.

While there can sometimes be a reluctance to change traditional ways of working, the benefits of using a centralised, online approach to managing catering procurement are well documented. For example, placing orders over the phone rather than online not only uses valuable time, but it doesn’t provide an audit trail to confirm what quantities or products have actually been ordered (and at what price). Online tools provide this transparency and help you to enhance back-office processes.

There are typically two options: operators can either pay for a stand-alone system(s), or they can work with a procurement partner, which provides an associated system as part of the overall offering. For example, at Pelican, our cloud-based system Pi provides one platform that coordinates all catering-related tasks, from placing orders, stock and waste management and menu development, to invoicing and cost controls, management reporting, and accessing product allergen data. It takes care of otherwise highly time-consuming tasks. What’s more, all of our services and systems come at no cost to your organisation!

Flash reporting

A flash report provides an easy way to quickly keep on top of takings and costs. I implore everyone to conduct a flash report, either daily or weekly. It is a vital tool that helps business operators to completely stay on top of what is going out, what is coming in and to ultimately manage margins. Pelican Pi’s Pinpoint module populates costs automatically, so all a business has to do, is drop in their revenue information, and they immediately access a flash report. For me, it’s a key module.

Automated price checking

With prices moving so fast and supply chains still being interrupted, access to real-time pricing can make a huge difference to operators. The speed of inflation does make benchmarking difficult – we’ve had to get smarter about it and therefore the Pelican Pi system is able to provide real-time pricing information and stock availability. If you’re using Pi, the price you see is the price you’ll pay as it is locked-in when orders are placed online. This means you have no surprises and can make adjustments to your menus if a product line you regularly purchase suddenly increases in cost.

Pelican’s Pi software suite has modules to speed up ordering, payments and many more

Smarter invoice payments

One of the big advantages of working with a procurement partner and using their system, is the time savings received from invoice management. Instead of receiving multiple invoices for different orders, products and from various suppliers, clients instead receiving one single invoice from Pelican.

For example, 200 Degrees Coffee has gone from receiving around 600 individual invoices every month to just one. As director and co-founder, Tom Vincent says: “We don’t have to check line items or prices against statements – that’s already been done, and we simply have a direct debit payment set up. Invoicing is not exciting, so it removes the humdrum for me and my team – it’s brilliant and means our people spend their time on more valuable or rewarding jobs.”

Sustainability solutions

Questions are being asked of all businesses about their sustainability initiatives. The Pelican team is helping our clients to reduce their carbon footprint by looking across the broad range of critical commodities – from food and chemical usage to plastic use. We can work on alternatives and suggest more sustainable options by identifying those commodities that impact our environment the most.
We have also teamed up with leading suppliers, manufacturers, industry bodies, and schemes offering solutions that will help you reduce your carbon footprint.

In Conclusion

Help is available – you don’t need to become purchasing specialists or employ people to manage this. By partnering with a procurement expert, we provide the support, insights and online tools that put you back in control of your day job, removing administrative burdens, and ultimately enabling you to make better informed procurement decision – both today and in the future.

Andrew Parsons

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