5 Things to Look for in a Group Purchasing Organization
While a Group Purchasing Organization (GPO for short) might draw an image of your local wholesale club or some sort of pyramid marketing scheme, the reality is much different. Most GPOs revolve around multiple businesses joining together to making purchases as a single unit to save money. And it’s been that way for at least 200 years (for a short history, read “5 Reasons to Join a Group Purchasing Organization”).
That said, today’s group purchasing system has developed nuances. The business model has become more sophisticated, having moved into a silo-ed industry approach. Instead of companies of all shapes, sizes and industries joining into a single organization, GPOs now exist on a more siloed level.
So how do you know which Group Purchasing Organization is right for your multifamily business? Here are some tips:
1. Choose a GPO in the multifamily industry
It isn’t just hospitals and healthcare organizations that are joining in group purchasing. GPOs are available in almost every industry, multifamily included. Joining a GPO in multifamily means more products that are directly related to your properties’ everyday needs. Not only do industry-based GPOs help you save on industry-specific items, they also tend to keep those items in stock. Instead of visiting a brick and mortar store and coming up empty, you can scroll and click with confidence, knowing your product will be in stock and on its way soon.
2. Electronic invoicing / more than an ordering platform
Electronic invoicing might seem like a nice-to-have, but it can be a game changer when you’re trying to control your accounts payable. Instead of collecting and entering data for a box full of receipts, electronic invoicing allows you to manage everything electronically. In some cases, the GPO can integrate with your accounting system to directly import all of your invoices and that can make a world of difference for your time, organization and record keeping.
3. Make sure it includes the right vendors
This one is a big reason why you’ll want to choose a multifamily GPO. From notepads to toilet handles, they’re much more likely to have the products you need, at a better price. Then there’s the question of quality. If you choose the right GPO, they will have vetted the vendors so you shouldn’t have to. We still recommend doing your research though. Get a list of the GPO’s vendors and check out their reviews. That way, you can be sure you get the service you deserve. Finally, choosing less vendors can actually help you get a better price. More about that here.
4. Does it have reporting?
If you’ve ever gotten a random item that has no business on your list of expenses (and almost every property has), then this is a requirement. Not only does a reporting function help you keep an eye on your budget, it also gives you an ear to the ground for compliance. In some GPOs, the reporting feature is so powerful, it can provide real-time visibility into your purchases – on a level that keeps employees honest and you on top of the action.
5. Find a GPO that was built for online
While it seems like a small distinction to make, you can tell the difference between a well-constructed online group purchasing system and a simple online store that was built after the fact. The user experience is better, invoicing is integrated, spend tracking is more robust and everything just works better. If it’s not made for online group purchasing, it’s likely to have more hiccups.
Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to pull the trigger.
To learning more about how you can better manage your property’s spending, read this eBook.