Every year, the Hotel Business Green Book Directory & Market Guide offers insights from experts on a variety of industry subjects. This year, we are offering even more insight with Green Book Extra.
Ted Carroll, president, Carroll Adams; Carl Long, SVP, Purchasing Management International (PMI); Kathryn Pol, project director/team leader, Benjamin West; and Elisa Whaler, president, Bray Whaler, offer their thoughts on the effects of product shortages and what the future holds.
The cost of materials has grown because of the shortage. Do you think that it is better to hold off on doing projects until after the prices come down?
Carroll: No. Speaking specifically about custom FF&E, price reductions are going to be limited. The price reductions will come in the freight and logistics once the retail giants start getting heavily involved.
Long: It’s not a good idea to hold off doing projects expecting material prices to come down. Cost of material will likely level out and then continue on the typical incremental growth following the overall health of the economy. But they are not going to come back down to pre-COVID levels, that is with the exception of freight costs.
Pol: In my opinion, if the money is available, proceed with projects in this environment as there is no telling when the costs level out. Cost increases are everywhere in our daily life (groceries, gas, etc.). It’s uncertain if they will ever go down to pre-pandemic costs.
Whaler: There is no way to time the market and predict future changes in the supply chain. Freight costs have been a huge part of the cost increase, and thankfully, have recently begun a downward trend. Ownership makes decisions based on the needs of the assets and availability of capital. When possible, projects are phased over longer periods to spread the inherent risk and cost fluctuations in the supply chain.
Do you see any issues on the horizon in terms of purchasing?
Carroll: A shift in sourcing because of the related freight issues during the pandemic. More customers want to shift sourcing from Asia to North America as much as possible. The issue domestically is that we have limited manufacturing capacity, labor and skilled workers in North America necessary to execute the custom luxury goods needed.
Additional issues we see in the marketplace are the same that others are seeing such as the uncertainty surrounding the supply chain, trucking and freight delays as well as staffing.
Long: The advice we’re giving our clients is the due diligence required now is even greater than before the shocks to the supply chain. Making sure that the vendors you’re working with have the financial strength to continue in business, have the labor resources to continue producing product and the project management expertise to navigate dispersed project teams and their own unstable supply chain. The best way for an owner to be safe on their project is to work with a purchasing company that has been through downturns in the past, has a reliable method of purchasing management and a track record of successful projects of all types. The expertise in hospitality project purchasing is available if you know where to look.
Pol: I think the last year has taught us a lot about pre-planning, partnership and flexibility. These are key lessons that I believe are needed headed into next year. The biggest challenge I see on the horizon is not adhering to the lessons we have learned and expecting a different result.
Whaler: Purchasing agents, like all aspects of hospitality, have to become more adept at attracting and retaining skilled employees. We have added more steps to our process to help mitigate owners’ risk in this climate. This makes hands-on training and mentoring of employees essential as they are asked to learn new skills and accomplish more in the same amount of time. Ongoing training and close collaboration are key to supporting a high performing team.