11 Oct

The ‘Ins and Outs’ of Procurement

Understanding the Importance—and the Difference—for Private Clubs

There is no doubt that private clubs are special places. They are rich in culture, history, and traditions that make each and every club unique—and a member or guest walking through these spaces should be able to feel this uniqueness, with each detail telling a story. The art of interior design is an exciting process of choosing the right aesthetic and functional elements to capture a club’s individuality. From planning to design conception to final install, hundreds of decisions are made that contribute to a successful project that skillfully bring these qualities to life.

But this doesn’t just happen. All of those “pretty things” that come together to create a desired aesthetic are conceptualized and selected individually. There is a process to make sure the design concepts and vision for a space come to fruition—and it’s one that leaves many scratching their heads: the procurement process. Who is involved? Why is it important? When does it begin and what exactly does it entail? Below we’ll answer all of your questions…including a few you may not have thought to ask.

What Is Interior Procurement?

Many general managers understand the concept of procurement with regard to supplies for the golf course or ingredients for the F&B operation—but what about procurement related to private club aesthetics and design? It’s actually a critical piece of every renovation puzzle. The procurement process encompasses everything from selection, budgeting and coordination, to purchasing, tracking, installation, and more. It’s what gets the beautiful furnishings and accessories of a space where they need to be and in the right condition—on time and on budget. And just as the nuances of private club design are far different than those of a residential renovation, private club procurement is not the same as it is for other areas of the club. It’s important to understand—and work with a company who understands—the vast differences.

How Is Private Club Procurement Unique?

There are many facets of a private club that contribute to the overall club experience and it is important to hire industry specialists that can help create the best experience possible. Private club chefs, golf course superintendents, membership directors, tennis pros, etc. are hired for a reason—they are experts in their field with extensive knowledge, experience, and leverage that are beneficial to the club. The same can be said for procurement when it comes to private club interiors. Some of the major benefits include:

  • Industry knowledge. Procurement doesn’t happen in a vacuum—in fact, it is intertwined in the design process from the very beginning. Partnering with a firm that specializes in both interior design and procurement for private club interiors means that you’ll have experts in your back pocket during the entire process. They’ll know the latest trends and changes in the marketplace—providing you with peace of mind as they bring these concepts to fruition.
  • Purchasing power. An interior procurement specialist can purchase millions of dollars’ worth of items in a year. This means they have established relationships with vendors and suppliers from all over the world. That translates into a great deal of leverage when it comes to negotiating quality, prices, and timeframes.
  • Supplier Coordination. In a room, there are hundreds of components that come together to create an aesthetic—in a clubhouse, thousands. So it makes sense to leave the coordination of all of these pieces to a professional procurement specialist. Plus, the procurement firm is there every step of the process to field (and solve) any issues that arise along the way.
  • Save time and money. In short, procurement firms understand selection, purchasing, and installation like the back of their hand. They live it every day. This means they have the experience, know-how, and processes in place to “make things happen” on behalf of the club—ultimately saving club leaders and general managers time, money, and a lot of headaches.

So How Does The Process Work?

Here, we’ve broken procurement down into three basic pieces—selection, purchasing, and installation. The groundwork for procurement should begin early on in the project’s design process to maintain a balance between aesthetic, function, and cost throughout its entire duration.


Selection occurs during the schematic design and design development phases of a project. This is where the designer listens closely to the club’s vision for a clubhouse or particular space and conceptualizes the best way to bring that vision to life—it’s the fun part!

At this stage, a preliminary FF&A (furniture, fixtures and art/accessories) or FF&E (furniture, fixtures, and equipment) budget is established (or verified, if a budget was established in a prior master planning exercise) to provide a general scope of work and a framework for the project. “One of the most important parts of the process is to establish a realistic budget that plans for the quality and durability required for private clubs,” advises Charlie Turner, Chambers’ Director of Interior Design / Principal. “Clubs see a lot of foot traffic and a lot of daily use, so we need to be sure we are selecting items that will remain beautiful and functional for many years.”

Another important consideration? Long-lead items such as carpet, decorative lighting, and custom furniture. “If we are ordering a custom Axminister carpet from overseas, it can take 12-16 weeks to produce, plus an additional four weeks on the seas in transit,” notes Kathy Martin, Director of Procurement (and a fixture at Chambers for 25 years), “so it’s important to make those decisions as early on in the process as possible. In-stock items like accessories or sconces, on the other hand, can be ordered at a later time.”


Once selections have been finalized and approved by the Club, the official purchasing process begins. At this stage, detailed specifications are written for each and every item that needs to be ordered, and hundreds of individual purchase orders are created for each vendor.  After each order is reviewed with the Club one final time, the design team establishes a Specification Binder that will serve not only as a reference throughout the process, but a record once the project is complete.

Turner recommends that a specific sub-committee is formed to participate in this process. This sub-committee is often comprised of a few club representatives, Chambers’ design team, and Chambers’ Procurement Department—all of whom should be involved from the beginning of the selection process. “This specific team will meet regularly to discuss status, continuously review the budget, and focus in on the very specific details of the process,” he adds.


At this stage, items have been selected, orders have been placed, pieces have been delivered to a local warehouse, and now it’s time to get said items where they need to go. Installation can be a daunting task, so it’s important to partner with a firm who will ensure each element arrives on time and in the right condition. During a Chambers installation, for example, Martin is on-site with the project’s lead designer to oversee delivery and ensure placement of each item, piece of artwork, and accessory adheres to the design drawings and fulfills the design intent.

And as mentioned above, a firm that has built relationships with vendors is a huge resource when it comes to installation as well.  “Here,” notes Martin, “our long-standing relationships not only create room for obtaining the best possible pricing, but also give us leverage in expediting items when necessary.” She adds, “Clubs often have very specific reasons for selecting installation deadlines, like wanting to open before Mother’s Day or in time for an annual celebration, so we do everything in our power to meet those dates—even if delays have occurred in other parts of the process along the way.” And of course, there is always room for error, so it’s best to coordinate one main installation date(s), and also plan for additional install dates if needed. Flexibility is key.

It All Comes Together In The End

All elements of a renovation project—planning, interior design, architecture, and procurement—work in conjunction with one another. Each stage plays its own important role and intertwines with another part of the process—and although procurement doesn’t seem as glamorous as architecture or interior design, it certainly should not be overlooked. A design plan is only abstract until the appropriated steps are put into effect—and a successful procurement process will bring that plan to life.

“Every piece of furniture has its own story of how it got to the point of installation, and that’s something that I get to enjoy on a personal level,” Martin remarks. “My team is the last out the door. We get to turn off the lights at the end of the day and allow the club to celebrate their new beginning. The best feeling is knowing how happy members are with the final product.” And that’s what really matters.

Do you have questions regarding the procurement process? Contact us today!

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  1. Melody McSweeney

    Believe it or not, there was a time when Chambers did not have it’s own purchasing department. . . Designers were on their own and it was up to them to both procure, and follow up on deliveries, or lack thereof! I know. It was many years ago when I walked into the then President RAH and told him (yes I was young and fearless) that designers ordering their own stuff was why the warehouse overflowed with unwanted inventory and we needed a separate purchasing department. To my amazement he agreed and told me to get busy! Yes, this was a long time ago but probably one of the favorite jobs in my memory. . .

    1. Marie Rivera

      What a fun memory! We’ve certainly had a lot of evolution in our 124-year history!

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