Software solutions have filled a big void in recent years to help property managers oversee vendors, from securing the necessary paperwork to getting the best deal on everyday supplies and big-ticket items.
Through a spend management system, apartments can build a complete library of qualified plumbers, carpenters, suppliers and the like to establish continuity in purchases and conform with a portfolio’s spending strategies.
But with so many choices in the online world, property managers shouldn’t feel alone if they need help finding the right vendors. After all, most Americans say that while they don’t necessarily feel overloaded with the amount of information served up today, they want assistance finding their way around the internet to make the right decision, according to a recent Pew Center for Research survey.
Getting a little help onboarding vendors in spend management software
RealPage is helping clients get the most out of the company’s spend management system by coordinating vendor onboarding and guiding buyers to better purchasing decisions while reducing the paper trail.
In most cases, supplier partners from RealPage’s vast supplier repository are matched with property management companies. The service is helping PMCs set up a more efficient system of choosing suppliers and getting the best deals, as well as reaching a goal of reducing paper invoices by 80 percent, says Sara Jones, RealPage’s vice president and general manager of spend management solutions.
“Our team really helps our clients take it to the next level,” Jones said. “Instead of our clients working independently to set up e-Invoicing for all of their suppliers, our internal team is partnering with our clients and taking the burden off their plates. This partnership allows our clients to focus on other key pieces of the Spend Management platform.”
Once vendors are onboarded, clients get assistance in managing vendor catalogs, including setting up rules and restrictions that promote preferred spending strategies across a portfolio.
“It’s how you really want to manage your overall spending, who your sites are buying from, what products they are buying and prices they are paying,” Jones said.
Finding the right product at the right price faster
In addition to offering hands-on service with clients, RealPage’s spend management platform better provides users with the ability to look for different products and services as well as the capability to restrict products, categories and so that buyers use the right supplier.
Clients can create rules for different categories and products to direct buyers to only certain pre-approved items. A restriction carves products out of the catalog so it’s not available to purchase.
For example, Vendor A may provide paper towels but has the best prices on smoke alarms. Vendor B may be preferred for its competitive paper towel prices. The system can be programmed to show only Vendor A’s smoke alarm inventory line and no paper towels. Vendor B’s paper towels would be the preferred choice.
The feature enables buyers to get to the information they need faster so product can be on its way.
“We allow our customers that are managing the program to restrict out what they don’t want their sites to order,” Jones said. “If you have a preferred vendor and you only want them to order from that vendor, or you have a secondary vendor, then you can really guide the user to ordering the right products from the right vendor.”
Also, restrictions and rules can be set up to create a list of products that fit a particular theme across an apartment community or portfolio, such as when buying appliances, fixtures and other big-ticket items. A restriction, for example, can be put into place to direct a site team member to buy only a certain brand and color of dishwashers for the type or class of property they manage.
The selection process promotes standardization from unit to unit and helps a portfolio maintain consistent spending through established price points, Jones says.
“It depends on how restrictive you want to be, the system is extremely flexible. We have clients start out using the basic modules in our system. It time, we see their company and procurement needs grow. We can support any client at any level.
Controlling spending to lower costs and reap benefits of rebates
The bottom line, Jones says, is that site-level buyers and others conform to the spending strategy outlined by the owner or property management company by working with primary and secondary vendors. Doing so not only simplifies the purchasing process but ultimately reduces spending when working with suppliers that offer rebates and volume pricing.
“It’s a really good way for PMCs to guide users so they know who they are supposed to buy from,” Jones said. “It helps control spending and ensure that products are purchased from suppliers that offer the best pricing or services that comply with the property’s financial goals and strategy.”
Learn more about RealPage Spend Management.