Automating Purchasing Yields Efficiencies & Savings for Hotel Group

AHC+Hospitality (AHC) is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where it manages three hotel properties, including the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, JW Marriott Grand Rapids, and Downtown Courtyard by Marriott, plus the Peter Island Resort and Spa in the British Virgin Islands. Additionally, AHC manages and owns eight other food and beverage (F&B) outlets in the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, including Ruth’s Chris Steak House, as well as another Ruth’s Chris franchise in Ann Arbor, MI. The company also operates the convention center’s F&B, which is conveniently located next door.

Seeking a streamlined purchasing system
AHC was experiencing issues with purchase orders and purchasing. The hotel group was using another company to manage this, but despite having a system in place, most of their work was manual with printed POs that were printed and filed. The system was also not integrated into AHC’s accounting system, Data Plus, or any other software.

The need for integration led AHC to make a change and after evaluating different systems, the decision was made to switch to BirchStreet in 2013. “One of the primary reasons we picked BirchStreet was because of their experience and functionality of integrating with our other systems,” explained Mark Koster, CFO for AHC+Hospitality. “BirchStreet provided a seamless electronic system with its integration into our other ERP systems. For example, AHC used to have paper REQs that were filled out, but now, with BirchStreet, we can request items online from inventory and everything is tracked within the system.”

Time saving benefits
Since rolling out BirchStreet, the AHC team has seen a great reduction in time spent on processing. “With our old system, it took two people about two and a half days each to process all of our POs,” explains Bruce Alber, Corporate Director of Purchasing at AHC. “Now, the same process in BirchStreet takes only four to six hours per week for one person.” Now, managers can initiate a PO, which goes through the system and workflow approval, with no paper or filing required.

“We can track all of our spend and purchasing online and know the status of each PO,” said Koster. AHC selected BirchStreet’s eProcurement, AP 3-Way Auto-Match, Inventory Control and Recipe Management System modules as their procure-to-pay standard.  

AHC incorporated BirchStreet Recipe Management System into their restaurant operations. The nutritional standards were one of the most important features in the selection of the software. “BirchStreet gives us a good grasp on accurate pricing and food cost in all of our F&B outlets,” noted Alber. With all of the modules integrated on the same cloud-based platform, all back-office operations are connected with real-time data, pricing and reporting. 

Increasing efficiency & profit
AHC also works with Avendra – a BirchStreet strategic partner – for their sourcing and supply chain needs. Avendra is the leading procurement service provider in North America and integrates into BirchStreet’s platform, further increasing efficiency and profit for customers. In BirchStreet, the ability to have automatic vendor uploads along with access to Punch-out suppliers (integration to track purchasing on a supplier’s website) makes ordering products much easier and are both helpful features. 

 “From an accounting standpoint, BirchStreet makes tracking expenses much easier. It’s great having electronic information at your fingertips,” stated Koster. “Before, we used to track our budgets by hand. Now, budgets are loaded into the system, which is more efficient and we are able to see cost savings.”

AHC management has refined the processes  with Birchstreet as new properties and restaurants onboard. Now, overall visibility of corporate spend helps AHC’s operations and procure-to-pay process achieve efficiency and reduces costs.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds