Purchasing Platform Is on a Mission to Help the Affordable Housing Sector

Built In sat down with CEO Dave Bowen to learn how his company’s spend management solution impacts entire communities for the better.

Written by Written by Brendan Meyer
Published on Jun. 27, 2022
Purchasing Platform Is on a Mission to Help the Affordable Housing Sector
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There’s a new playground at a manufactured housing community in Kansas thanks to Purchasing Platform. Let Dave Bowen explain why.

He’s the CEO of the e-commerce real estate company, whose online marketplace connects property management companies with vendors to simplify their spending and portfolio management, and even save large sums of money. In doing so, Bowen said, Purchasing Platform can help the affordable housing sector.

“Large affordable housing real estate companies often struggle with standardization and control when it comes to purchasing the goods and services across their portfolio,” Bowen said. “We help ensure that every portfolio can do more with their capital while remaining compliant.”

It’s these lower costs that can make a big impact on affordable housing communities. Here’s an example: A property manager in Kansas had a capital budget of $120,000 to repair a section of the community’s main street, trim 10 dead trees, and buy a maintenance vehicle. 

“Using Purchasing Platform, the community saved more than $22,000 and was able to purchase a new playground, park benches and other amenities as well,” Bowen said. 

Here’s another. A regional manager of a large manufactured housing portfolio had 12 properties spread across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, and all of them required new signage and fencing. Purchasing Platform helped save more than 25 percent of the original budget for each property. As a result, each community was able to add a homework station amenity to its clubhouse for children to use after school.

“The best part about the Purchasing Platform model is that every part of our ecosystem benefits as a result of increased utilization,” Bowen said. “In other words, we create more value for members, vendors and residents alike as we scale.”

 

Tell me more about Purchasing Platform. What problem does it solve?

Purchasing Platform simplifies procurement for the entire property management ecosystem and, in doing so, delivers success for real estate owners, onsite managers, vendors, and of course, residents.

For members (property owners and management groups), Purchasing Platform provides solutions to many problems they face in their industry. For instance, ordinarily, there is no control or pre-approval over spending at every property. There’s also little transparency into what is actually being purchased across the portfolio, and no ability to enforce product standards across a portfolio. Purchasing Platform solves these problems, and much more.

Here’s an example: Purchasing Platform analyzed the corporate credit card spend report from a multifamily portfolio that offers affordable housing options exclusively. We quickly identified that each property manager from more than 20 different locations was routinely traveling to local stores (like Home Depot) two to three times per day to purchase goods at retail prices for their respective properties. Not only does deploying our solution drastically reduce the need for offsite trips to stores, but the use of the PP marketplace also ensures that all expenditures are compliant and reviewed and approved before company money is deployed.

We also solve many problems for our vendors (local, regional and national suppliers of products and services), such as limited access to traditional marketing resources and strategies, minimal e-commerce capabilities, and invoicing limitations, which leads to frustration among portfolio finance teams. Purchasing Platform streamlines invoicing for our clients and payments for our vendors while also lowering the cost of sale for vendors by making their products and services available to pre-qualified portfolios via our B2B marketplace. In addition, we provide detailed analytics to vendors to help them anticipate demand and promote their value proposition.

Also, there’s a lot of market-size ignorance in the industry. Many vendors have no idea how large an opportunity affordable housing can be. Our mission is to continuously deliver solutions that benefit affordable housing communities and the suppliers they rely on nationwide, thereby continuously improving the quality of life for residents.

 

Purchasing Platform team members having a meeting
Purchasing Platform

 

How has being a purpose-driven business for the affordable housing sector helped Purchasing Platform scale?

The products and services we’ve built allow everyone to become more efficient, compliant and effective in their day-to-day operations. The money and time that is saved by property owners and managers using Purchasing Platform can be reinvested back into the properties themselves to the benefit of those that live there.

These reinvestment opportunities have created a network effect as we regularly identify new categories of products and services through member requests and suggestions that we can share with all 3,000 affordable housing communities. Vendors benefit from increased volumes, while members get more bang for their buck.

Many affordable housing sectors, including manufactured housing, have a bad reputation based on outdated perceptions. As a supply chain partner, we help facilitate investments in roads and sewers; amenities such as bus stops, play areas, dog parks, and more, and a commitment to continuously improving resident and tenant experience as the new normal — and we couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. Better capital management (as a result of Purchasing Platform and the vendors committed to supporting affordable housing) has accelerated the addition of amenities and other features that improve the quality of life for tenants.

 

What excites you most about Purchasing Platform? 

This is just the start of the impact we can make. Standardized and compliant procurement will create greater outcomes for so many overlooked asset classes, especially within the affordable housing vertical. Our continued scale will allow us to offer a constant stream of new value creation opportunities for the properties and vendors we work with. And while we empower portfolios to get more for their money and vendors to lower their cost of sale, the most important beneficiary will be the tenants and residents that reside within these communities.

 

THEY’RE HIRING

Purchasing Platform is growing, and Bowen wants you to come along for the ride. There are currently openings in customer success, design, engineering, operations and more.

 

What’s it like to work at a mission-driven company? 

Collaboration is our superpower. The backbone of our culture is respect, transparency and accountability. We are a group of diverse individuals but we play for one team to solve problems and provide simple solutions for our customers. We understand that sometimes you need a do-over and failure can often be the first step to something wonderful. 

Our humor-first team is a curious and highly creative bunch with hobbies outside of work that include fight choreography, Klingon opera singing, horse betting, and even actual underwater mermaiding! On in-office days you can expect a fist bump from the CEO, and a perpetual overflow of Skittles and M&M’s in our snack closet. 

We elevate those around us and try to always leave things better than we found them.

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via Purchasing Platform and Shutterstock.

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