Tackling the rent squeeze by narrowing down the supplier base is a solution for many social housing providers. Helping to focus your buying power, the benefits of working with a preferred supplier base are numerous.
Doing this can help procurement to deliver impressive benefits to their employer, above and beyond pricing, including sustainability, innovation and risk reduction initiatives.
A few benefits of fewer suppliers are the reduction in the number of transactions, less time in managing suppliers and reduced time for managing internal systems. This frees up the procurement team to deal with more strategic, long term issues.
One of the best areas social housing providers can realise these benefits is in workplace supplies, by sourcing technology, office supplies, cleaning products and facilities supplies from one partner.
If the time is right to address supplier consolidation, how should the decision be made? As well as the harder benefits there are 'soft factors' which can prove just as critical. Communication styles, organisation values and individual and team skills can make all the difference.
Here are the features every social housing provider should consider:
There should be a can-do attitude. Is the supplier proactively offering to tailor their offering toyou? Whether you need to fund a major capital works project, or repair, maintain and improve an estate, suppliers should understand your needs and show that they can flex their offering as you need them to.
- Personal know-how
Do the individuals really understand your business? Do they have a working knowledge of social housing issues, built on their own experience in the sector? Do they relate to your operating model and appreciate your working practices?
Social housing has more than its share of challenges in the current climate and it's likely these will continue. It's vital your suppliers work supportively with you. They should help steer an effective way through your procurement processes, work with other parties and be a solid partner.
- Visibly improving
If a supplier is bringing value to your operation, you should see improvements. Are they helping you meet and exceed your targets, are projects completed successfully and improved upon each time, and are your tenants happy with the results?
- Cultural fit
The right cultural fit with suppliers matters because when there are differences, difficulties are more likely. Look for synergies in culture, style and approach between your organisation and your suppliers.