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Getting started with a procurement services company
By Glen Witsaman
Using a procurement services company can cut your overall annual costs, leaving more funds for you to support your ministry. But, where do you start?
A well-organized procurement services company will help you save money through an established network of suppliers and distributors. The savings comes from contracts it negotiates directly with that network and is based on the overall volume of sales to its various clients. Many such companies have direct relationships with a vast variety of suppliers, from local artisan bakeries to large, name-brand manufacturers.
Whether your organization is one church, several care centers or an entire diocese, there is a procurement program that should fit your level of needs.
Step 1: Evaluate your current purchasing methods and costs. Take into consideration everything from bathroom towels, to altar candles, to food. You might also consider the expenses of facility services such as HVAC / equipment maintenance, janitorial and administrative needs.
Step 2: Research the right fit in a procurement services company. Cost savings are usually based on the volume and breadth of the established client sites that the company already has on their programs. The larger their client base, the lower the likely pricing for you. Look for:
- A network of strong national and regional programs for key product categories that you purchase today.
- Clear onboarding steps and help when you call. A company should have customer service avenues in place with options for a dedicated account manager for your account and / or a call center where you can access assistance with daily procurement questions.
- Partnerships and services that help you achieve savings in more than one area. They should have access to savings in food, as well as supplies, services and equipment.
- A customer-only website, which should include resources to help you maximize the benefits of their program for your ministry and provide education in market trends.
- Regular communications — on product changes, distribution news and special savings opportunities.
- Low or no fees. Some companies charge a membership fee to customers to be a part of their network. Others (including entegra) charge no fee to the client.
- A program for your level of needs. If you are a large organization with many operating locations — a diocese, a region, or a network of facilities, for example — the company you choose should be able to work with you to negotiate a contract for your procurement needs across your organization.
If you are a church with one location, the company should have established internal programs that you can become a part of to gain the same savings as a larger group.
Once signed on with the right procurement services company, it is likely that you will continue to purchase many products from the suppliers or distributors you use today. You will receive negotiated discount pricing on the same items you are already buying, and those savings will be immediate. All customers should receive the same contracted pricing, no matter how much they buy.
The aggregate savings for your organization will vary depending on how many, and to what degree, you use a contracted program. When you buy through the program, the savings is immediate and is factored directly into invoices; thus, 100 percent of the money you save remains with your ministry.
At entegra, we have some added help for our clients, including online tools and individualized resources designed to help you to attain optimal savings.
Glen Witsaman is a National Director of Business Development, Leisure & Faith-Based segments at entegra Procurement Services, a non-fee-based purchasing company that provides customized procurement and distribution services for food and related supplies to many industries, including hospitals, schools, restaurants and church groups in the United States and Canada.