Does Your Food Supplier Actually Care About Your Restaurant?
One of the best tools a restaurant owner can have is a food supplier that cares about their establishment.
As a restaurateur, you need a partner who actually listens to you, one who’s available, who responds quickly to your restaurant’s needs, and who seems as invested in your restaurant’s success as you are.
Too many restaurateurs stick with their suppliers out of loyalty, regardless of how poorly they’re treated. That’s the wrong reason to stay with a vendor. Being loyal isn’t usually considered a bad thing, but in cases when you’re no longer being cared for it could be a bad business decision.
If you’re not sure how to evaluate your suppliers, how to measure exactly what they bring to the table for your restaurant, or whether or not they do actually care about your future success, read on.
Here’s how to choose a supplier that will help your restaurant succeed
What really matters to you and your restaurant? Lowest cost? Quality of supplies? Delivery windows available to you?
The first step in evaluating your suppliers is taking a hard look at 4 main criteria:
Rank those four criteria by how important they are to your restaurant, and then use them to evaluate your suppliers.
As a restaurant owner with so much going on, it’s not always easy to look at multiple suppliers and consider all of these criteria. We get it. At various times in your restaurant’s lifecycle, you’ll naturally be more focused on cost over quality or service over delivery. As best as you can, go into these decisions with a clear understanding of what you need and what you’re looking for when dealing with suppliers.
If you do, you’ll save time, money, and avoid a whole lot of stress in the long run.
If your current supplier isn’t delivering on all four criteria, it’s time to start looking for a new one that will. Continue to use all four criteria to evaluate potential new suppliers. Remember to keep looking at the full picture, and not to sacrifice quality in one area for another.
Choosing the best supplier for your restaurant, step-by-step
If you’ve determined that your restaurant needs new vendors, here’s how to select the right ones.
Build a relationship with potential suppliers
The easiest way to know whether a supplier cares about your restaurant is to build a relationship with them. A good vendor-restaurant relationship is like a marriage. Open communication is vital, and you’re likely to have arguments, but at the end of the day, problems should be corrected and the relationship should be on solid footing.
Remember that price is important but it’s not the only thing
It’s easy to fall into the trap of only looking at the prices different suppliers offer. Restaurants have thin profit margins, and you need to look to cut costs wherever you can. Keep in mind, though, that sometimes you get what you pay for. Budget supplies may also come with budget service. Remember the four tiers — service, delivery, supply quality and prices — and evaluate suppliers on all of them.
Know that trust is vital
You know that old saying, that trust is like an antique vase? Once it’s broken, you can glue the pieces back together, but it’ll never be perfect again. If you don’t trust your vendors, you need to find new ones. It’s vital that you know they have your back and will be there when you need them, because if they aren’t, no one else will be.
Consider food safety
Not enough restaurants think about food safety when choosing a supplier. Take the time to understand food safety implications and ask your potential supplier about procedures they have in place to keep food at safe temperatures and away from contaminants. Do they know which palette your lettuce came from, or which farm your strawberries were grown in? This will ensure an easier time with food safety inspections, and peace of mind from knowing your supplier is doing as much as you are to make sure the food served in your restaurant won’t harm anyone.
Look beyond the sales rep
Once you’ve built a relationship with your sales rep, it can be hard to look beyond that one person you know and care about. That’s natural and you should have a solid relationship with your sales rep.
It’s not the entire picture, though.
Dig deeper and really assess your potential suppliers. Is their infrastructure set up to best support you? How do they take care of their employees (you know, the ones delivering your supplies every day)? Did you check their references among other restaurants who have used their services?
This kind of due diligence upfront—beyond the sales rep you get along with—will save you time and money in the long run.
How Well Juicery changed how it deals with suppliers
A Toronto-based cold-pressed juice company distributing juices and lemonades across Canada, Well Juicery had a supplier problem.
The company was seeing rapid growth, but their previous supplier only cared to provide them with a dollar amount for each item they were purchasing. However, with a rapidly expanding customer base and a need to fulfill more and more orders, what Well Juicery really needed was a partner that would work with them to help navigate the supply space in a way that helps them successfully grow their business. They needed a supplier that understood how fast they were growing and put in the work to ensure that supply wasn’t something they had to worry about.
Well Juicery took the time to evaluate its current supplier, as well as find out exactly what its overall needs and goals were in terms of its supply chain. The juicery needed good service, quality products, fast delivery; in short, a supplier that cared about and would truly contribute to the success of the business.
Ultimately, they found ChefHero, a supplier that fit all the criteria, and offered competitive, transparent pricing. ChefHero worked with Well Juicery to forecast their supply needs and provided them with more access to knowledge than they were privy to previously. As a result, Well Juicery is now able to continue growing with a supplier that would help the business reach the next level.
If you need help choosing a new supplier…
The first step is getting the information you need to make the best decision for your restaurant.
Restaurant owners want relevant, up-to-date information on pricing and delivery windows to make those important decisions about suppliers.
Most owners do not have access to a trusted network of local suppliers. Restaurant owners benefit when they have a marketplace of vendors to meet their restaurant’s needs. Lastly, they want a system that is always available to them. When something goes wrong, they want someone there to help them fix it.
Choosing the right suppliers for your restaurant is no easy task. But it’s one thing you can do to always ensure someone is ready to lend a helping hand when your restaurant needs it. In restaurants, everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. Be prepared for the inevitable with suppliers who care about your success as it if is their own.