Creating a centralized purchasing process across senior living properties.
Five Star Senior Living must offer unique and enriching experiences to residents at 280 facilities across 39 US states while maintaining close cost and purchasing control. Amazon Business helps the purchasing team in Newton, Massachusetts, work more efficiently with each facility to buy everything required for countless varied needs and events.
It’s a noble mission. Every day, Five Star Senior Living provides seniors with the highest-quality service and attention with the warmth and hospitality of home. But maintaining that level of service consistently and efficiently at over 280 locations is a monumental task.
With 27,000 residents all told, it’s like running a small city spread from coast to coast. Five Star buys over 28,000 items across the company and makes many more one-time purchases to support the diversity of the unique social, cultural, wellness, and spiritual experiences it gives its residents.
Without a centralized and transparent purchasing process, purchasing so many unique items was a huge resource drain. “Before we started on Amazon Business, we received about 60 new vendor requests a day from staff members in our communities for any number of new items they needed,” says Kevin Turner, Five Star’s Vice President of Supply Chain.
Even though Turner’s purchasing team was ultimately responsible for budgeting, they had little control over actual purchases. Staff members at individual facilities would drive from store to store and use their purchasing cards to make purchases. In addition to being hugely inefficient, there was no way to control these purchases over thousands of miles. It didn’t allow for price comparisons or approval of costs before purchases in the field were complete. “Once a staff member swiped the credit card, the charge was done and I couldn’t reverse it,” Turner says. “We didn’t have any insight or oversight regarding the sale until it was already over and we received the credit card bill.”
Greater staff empowerment, a simplified process, and detailed visibility weren’t nice-to-haves for an organization this large and diverse—they were business imperatives.
“Amazon Business has solved so many problems for us,” Turner says. “The sheer amount and range of inventory of the marketplace meets our challenge of getting what we need, when we need it. The staff and the residents love this because now they have the freedom to plan activities the way they want to with the supplies they really want. It saves us time and money simultaneously.”
No matter what the event is or what supplies are needed, Amazon Business empowers facility staff to make the right purchases. As Turner puts it: “Staff members go to our Amazon Business account now and buy everything for their chosen theme, whether it’s an Italian night, a summer celebration party, or our coordinated solar eclipse viewing. One of our residents turned 110 recently, and the community wanted to throw a big party. The party planner asked me where we could get the supplies and I suggested they look to Amazon for centenarian party supplies. Of course she was able to find just what she needed, fast.”
“Amazon Business has solved so many problems for us.”
— Kevin Turner, Vice President of Supply Chain, Five Star Senior Living
This empowerment led Five Star to significantly increase their Amazon Business spend over the past year, and it limited their reliance on vendors. Says Kevin, “I’m okay with that because the products they’re buying are the right products, they can’t get them anywhere else, and they’re cheaper.” He continued, “Amazon has allowed us to purchase those items without having to get a national vendor; we would literally need hundreds of vendors to cover all these categories. We have been and we continue to be pleased with this.”
Integrating Amazon Business into daily procurement operations also gives Turner’s team the fiscal benefits of real-time spend insights, offering better budget control and helping them manage their business more effectively. “Spend Visibility and Guided Buying from Business Prime have been tremendous assets in giving us insight and oversight of our spend,” says Turner.
The category level detail provided by Spend Visibility helps them understand what product gaps exist from their suppliers. For example, if staff is buying 300-count sheets on Amazon instead of their existing suppliers, this indicates a gap in their supply chain. “We’ve always been able to fill these gaps with Amazon. Now, with the analytics from Spend Visibility, I can identify these gaps and plan better for the upcoming year,” said Kevin.
They also use Spend Visibility to drill down to the minute that purchases were made. This helps Five Star understand the peak buying times at each property, and they can react if these times conflict with times where staff should be focusing on residents. In addition, enabling approved and restricted categories through Guided Buying eliminates about 90 minutes each day spent on reviewing orders. This gives Five Star more time to focus on their core business, improving facilities and keeping residents happy and active.
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