How to Streamline the Spa Purchasing Process

Savvy spa operators understand the power of streamlining the purchasing process. Laying the foundations of a strategic purchasing policy—one that defines your desired quality standards, volumes, and price points—reaps significant rewards. Benefits of a strategic purchasing program include significant time and cost savings, as well as improved relationships with your vendors and executive team.

Here are some things to consider to streamline your spa’s purchasing process:

Develop Strong Vendor Relationships: The best vendor/buyer relationships are true partnerships. You are in it for the long term, so select your partners well. Approach every vendor with the goal of getting the best possible delivery, quality, price, and payment terms for your company. Develop vendor criteria. Grade your suppliers on product quality, punctuality, customer service and price. Then you can easily pick a supplier that will meet your needs. Also consider the proximity of your vendors. By utilizing vendors closer to your property, you accomplish reduced inventory, shorter lead times and lower freight costs.

Work with ‘One Stop Shop’ Full-Service Distributors: Finding a one-stop-shop for all of your spa and salon needs is one of the best ways to streamline the purchasing process. Purchasing multiple products from a single source eliminates the need to send purchase orders to different vendors. Look for Full Service Distributors that carry product selection for all areas of the Spa (Locker room, Massage, Nails, hair, Facial, Body Treatments, Retail, Furniture & Equipment). An experienced distributor can review your order history and analyze your purchases to look for cost savings.

Get a Grip on Inventory Management: Inventory management is an essential tool for cost effective procurement. Tracking inventory allows you to avoid unnecessary waste, and ensures you are prepared for busy seasons like the Christmas holidays. Your booking software can help you monitor and manage inventory, sales and shipping lines to give you visibility into your business, improve cash flow management, help with inventory control, and ultimately, enhance profitability.

Look Beyond Price: Selecting vendors based on price alone is a dangerous practice. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Consider the vendor’s reputation and customer service levels. Do they provide a ”go-to” sales rep to confirm your orders, provide tracking information and update you on possible backorder details with Estimated Time of Shipment? This extra level of service prevents the spa personnel from tracking down the vendor to confirm purchase orders and find out status. Many times from other vendors, the customer isn’t aware of a backorder until they receive their order—which is a major inconvenience.

Regularly Evaluate Vendor Performance: Make it a practice to regularly evaluate your purchasing practices and vendor performance. Your accounting system and booking software should capture and report purchasing costs in a way that enables you to measure and control them effectively. It is also a good idea to compare cost and service levels from other vendors, to make sure you are working with the right partners.

Five Questions to Ask a Potential Vendor:

  1. What are the ranges of products you have to offer?
  2. What are your credit and payment terms?
  3. What are my freight costs—from where will you be shipping the products?
  4. Will I have a designated sales rep to confirm sales orders and backorders with ETA’s?
  5. Can you set up Blanket Purchase Orders with pricing guaranteed for at least a year?


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