FF&E firms need hospitality leads to grow their businesses, and their sales of fixtures and equipment, but with so many options it can be hard to know where to start. Read on as we explore how FF&E firms can generate more sales leads and customers today.
WHAT IS FF&E?
Let’s start at the beginning. What does FF&E even mean? In the hospitality industry, FF&E stands for furniture, fixtures, or other equipment that have no permanent connection to the structure of a building.
Examples of FF&E include desks, chairs, computers, electronic equipment, tables, bookcases, and partitions. It can also be used as an accounting term in valuing, selling, or liquidating a company or a building.
You may also see the term FF&A used which stands for furniture, fixtures, and accessories.
WHAT KIND OF COMPANIES SUPPLY FF&E?
Every day, hotels spend millions of dollars on a wide variety of products in the FF&E category, from beds to bathroom fixtures to electronics. FF&E purchasing can be quite diverse and often complex.
If you sell furniture, bedding, window treatments, lighting, carpeting, tile, bathroom fixtures, kitchen appliances and fixtures, electronics and technology (like phones and computers) or architectural elements not permanently connected, then you should be pursuing hospitality leads as an FF&E category provider.
HOW DO I FIND HOSPITALITY PROSPECTS?
For a hospitality client, like a hotel, sourcing FF&E can be an overwhelming process.
So, if they don’t handle it in-house, they may look to work with a FF&E procurement service to handle the end-to-end management of a clients procurement project.
In addition to going after individual properties, your goal should be to be a resource for these FF&E procurement services in the hospitality industry, so that they are sourcing your products for their client projects.
Marketing and selling to the hospitality market requires work on your part as a potential FF&E category provider.
And when we say work, we mean network. Many individual hotels and ownership companies work independently which gives you the potential to build strong one-on-one relationships with these properties.
Alternatively, getting listed as an approved supplier for a major brand or chain can be the end all, be all for many vendors and companies that provide FF&E product categories. One of the biggest keys to building these relationships is–you guessed it–networking.
Building these relationships with corporate parent companies, individual properties, and their decision-makers is not easy, but it can be lucrative.
It means working to understand what drives their overall strategy and branding, and seeing where you can fit in to that.
What is their brand all about?
How will working with your company help them fulfill their brand goals?
Are they frustrated with their current products?
How can you ease their frustrations with a better product?
Become immersed in the industry. Attend trade shows, visit properties, and ask for referrals.
Just remember, relationships can take years to build and grow and your approach to each will need to be personalized with your messaging, marketing and sales approach.
WHO DO I SPEAK WITH?
There can be many decision-makers and influencers involved in hospitality purchases. While the individuals may vary in different parts of the market, there are some general roles that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with.
The first thing to understand is what matters to each of them when it comes to making purchasing decisions. You want to be able to get their attention and help them through the buying process. This way you can differentiate the main needs and concerns of those key decision-makers and influencers.
With many moving parts in the process, trying to get to the right decision-maker at the right time can sometimes be a game of chance.
There are a number of players connected with FF&E purchase decisions including ownership groups, management companies, design firms, purchasing companies and property-level managers.
Plus, there is often a different set of considerations involved in working with each of them.
WHAT DO I SAY?
A common mistake many companies make when pursuing hospitality leads and selling to this market is using “one pitch for all” mentality. This industry is unique, and those making hospitality buying decisions are motivated by a whole different set of factors than what you may be used to with consumers or other businesses.
You know you make quality products, but how will they help a hotel increase occupancy, lower their procurement costs or make a renovation go smoother?
To make the most impact with hospitality leads, create a pitch that speaks directly to those decision makers, addressing their concerns.
Whatever strategies you implement, you’ll need to make sure your whole sales team is on board. For instance, if you plan to target economy hotels, where the general manager makes most of the decisions based on price, you should make sure your sales reps are interested in pursuing these deals where the margins may be small, and the negotiation times long.
Your reps may only be willing to focus their time on the product lines and hospitality leads that have the best potential to bring in a healthy commission.
Be realistic about your sales team’s motivations and ensure that they align with your strategy.
At the end of the day, you know your team best, and what strategies will make sense to implement for everyone’s success.
WHERE DO I FIND HOSPITALITY LEADS?
If you want your share of this market and want to generate more hospitality leads, you should work on truly understanding how the industry works.
Get to know who the key decision-makers and influencers are, and what matters to them when they are looking for a procurement partner. It’s a multi-faceted industry that’s worthwhile tapping into.
Vendors and companies that have committed to growing sales in the hospitality industry, have seen their revenue increase as a result.
Spending this time understanding how to engage corporate parent companies, individual properties, and their decision-makers at the right time in the buying process will show your commitment and professionalism.
Find out if there are new construction or renovation projects coming up, or if a hotel brand is working on a new initiative across their properties. What is their replacement cycle for product?
Use your research and understanding of the market to reach the key decision makers at the management company, the property level or corporate level.
The information shared here will help guide you as you develop your own marketing approach. You can have success in this industry by implementing realistic strategies and tactics and seeing them through.