If Shakespeare had been a purchasing manager instead of a playwright and poet, he would have had a hard time defining the word carpet without first having some sort of standard. While a ?rose by any other name. . .? is still a rose, the same can?t be said for the ubiquitous fabric on which we stand in virtually every hotel in the world. Different Standards What may be a product standard in one hotel or brand may be completely different at another. Tolerance, quality and weight are just a few of the issues Shakespeare would have had to deal with. Carpeting is just one of the many reasons why the International Society of Hospitality Purchasers (ISHP) was recently formed. By defining common standards, purchasing professionals will be able to help owners and managers acquire the right product at the best possible price. While the International Society of Hospitality Purchasers has many goals, one central theme exists throughout our mission? the better we as a group become, the more benefits we can deliver to the hotel owner. The purchasing agent?s role is unique. We operate as the bridge between the design firm and the vendor, balancing the needs and desires of each with a fiduciary duty to the owner. From a distance, purchasing seems fairly straightforward. You determine what you need and go buy it. However, there are no one-stop ?department? stores that can handle the thousands of different items required to run a hotel. This is especially true when it comes to complex purchasing and coordination requirements for FF&E, especially custom FF&E, where products are being purchased on a one-time basis for a specific property. In these situations, the expertise of a purchasing manager is especially valuable. In this age of technological advancement, purchasing can appear to be little more than a ?re-order with a part number.? For some items, specifically operating supplies (soap, paper, linen, etc.), this is somewhat correct. However, in the ?re-order with a part number? purchase, someone has to source the market, compare quality, service, cost, financial stability of the vendor, warranty, and other factors, set up the program, negotiate the contract and monitor performance. Even in the most basic purchasing, the final decisions that affect the transaction still are handled by two or more humans doing business together. Technology has made the process more efficient, but humans have not been removed from the loop. ISHP?s Goals Since all purchasing is based on people, ISHP is starting with the basics of developing people, defining roles, setting standards of ethical conduct, and setting industry standards for products, including life-safety codes, warranties and manufacturing tolerances. An initial goal of ISHP is to first define what an owner should expect from a purchasing professionalthen raise the collective bar so that the owner, designers and vendors all will ultimately win. Which brings me back to carpet standards. Of all the areas of FF&E, there is probably more wrong information regarding carpet in the minds of designers, owners and operators than any other FF&E product. Carpet is an item that does not lend itself to a spreadsheet. For example, while a buyer can obtain three bids for ?32 ounce? carpet, making the purchasing decision based on that one specification can spell headaches and costly losses to the bottom line. Let?s put it in a different context. Would you buy a new car by only considering one or two specifications: ?white, four-door vehicle?? That description fits both a Yugo and a Rolls Royce. The same goes for carpet. The price and quality of a ?32-ounce? carpet varies from about $3 a square yard to more than $40 per square yard. . .from Yugo to Rolls Royce. Weight is only one critical area. Tolerance is another. Some purchasing agents specify a standard of +/-5 percent for weight. Thus, a 32-ounce carpet should weigh between 30.4 and 34.2 ounces per square yard in impartial tests.