Food costs continue to outpace RPI (Retail Price Index) and as such, the purchase of food and control of spend places an ongoing and significant burden on the care home industry. A lack of visibility and control of food supplier pricing also exacerbates the problem because it ultimately means that care homes are unaware of the impact of the cost of their food purchase, until it is too late. This leads to large amounts of overspend and waste.
The prime focus for care homes is quite rightly on the level of care they provide on a day to day basis so by nature, the don’t often have the in-house expertise associated with food purchasing and legislative control that is needed to combat spiralling food costs; even though this has been identified by care homes as one of their biggest worries in terms of stability and growth.
Traditionally, care homes have attempted to make their finance software work in conjunction with the purchasing of food items. But the reality is, this doesn’t work because these solutions don’t have the flexibility to deal with weighted items and the difference this makes to the value of goods received. These systems also don’t allow food suppliers to amend deliveries with substituted goods.
Not having central control of food suppliers and product purchases means that care homes usually have large lists of suppliers with huge amounts of invoices. Lack of reconciliations also means invoices are often missed and can create many more hours of admin in compiling, correcting and issuing credit notes before payment runs.
Care homes may also be missing a trick in terms of negotiating power with food suppliers because lack of control and use of multiple suppliers for the same items could mean some are paying more for certain products that they need to.
The answer has to be live price control with an agreed list of suppliers using a hospitality-specific online purchasing solution. Care home managers and chefs need simple to use ordering templates with real-time prices for that day and they need to be able to make product changes quickly and easily. The care home must be in control of any price changes and be able to reject any they believe to be incorrect based on what has been agreed with the supplier.
Removing the potential for missed invoices and credit note chasing will also help as will an automated and paperless process that effectively ‘cleans’ the invoice total online.
Care homes have an important job to provide the best care they possibly can and that should be the key focus, freeing up time intensive admin tasks will help make that happen and using a system that helps to save money and control spend could also save around 40 hours per month of time that could be spent on the more important role of caring.
By Mark Sanders, Sales Director at Zupa Caternet
About Zupa Caternet (www.caternet.co.uk)
Zupa Caternet is a one-stop shop web portal that delivers cutting edge eProcurement technology to the pub & bar, restaurant, food & beverage and hospitality sectors. With an extensive range of diverse products and services, Zupa Caternet helps businesses to save time and money by modernising purchasing, reporting and financial systems as well as stock management and catering related solutions such as recipes, allergens and nutritional analysis. Its purpose built, flexible technology fully integrates Electronic Point of Sale (EPoS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and finance management systems across any organisation that buys products and services. Zupa Caternet is part of the Zupa Group and is a Microsoft Silver Development Partner.