In the food and beverage industry, food suppliers are an integral part of an operation. Unless you operate an exclusive direct farm to table setup, you will have to depend on an outside source to supply your business.
Finding the right supplier can be a hit and miss game because you need to juggle many aspects that can lead to either profit or loss.
Check out the following tips when looking for your food supplier/vendor:
1. Look around for suppliers/vendors and get 3 to 5 quotes
Three to five quotes is a comfortable range to compare prices without too many complications. To effectively bargain with suppliers or vendors, you have to have a sufficient number of quotes. It is perfectly okay to mention to a potential supplier a ballpark of how much you’ve been quoted by others. This is often appreciated as suppliers would want to know if their prices are being undercut by a competitor.
As we go along this list, you will see that higher costs aren’t always a cause for concern. The rates given to you do not solely depend on the actual price of raw material or ingredient. Other factors such as delivery fees, or technology/machinery to guarantee quality control can also be factored in the quote.
Quality ingredients may cost more but help assure your guests of value for their money.
2. Age and reputation of the company/business
Often, experienced suppliers are easier to deal with since they are more likely to understand the kind of support you need. They already have a fair understanding of the industry or market and may be able to have more room to negotiate prices with you,
However, relative newbies in the field may also surprise you with vigour and aggressiveness to please clients that may work in your favour.
Try to research the company and read client reviews if available. Ask for references, such as the names of the local restaurants or other food establishments that they service. You need to know the quality of their service from customer perspectives and not just from their website or marketing
3. Ask for samples
It is a smart move to know precisely what you are purchasing. This in particular applies to suppliers who you have never conducted business before or whose shops you have never purchased from before. How they prioritize quality will reflect on the ingredients that you will be supplied with.
RELATED READ: Sourcing Ingredients For Your Restaurant: Seafood
4. Clarify payment terms and refund policy
Be sure to know what to expect before paying for supplies. Do they allow financing or not? What is their policy on returns and refunds? In turn, let them know as well what your expectations are. At the end of the day, the suppliers and vendors work for you. You have a right to know how they will address matters that can affect your operations.
5. Ask if they require a minimum and maximum orders
Knowing this detail is important as these numbers can greatly influence your inventory. You need to have a balance between their delivery requirements and your kitchen’s needs. Assess if their minimum orders will leave you with too much standing product or if their maximum orders are enough for your operation. You need to consider your food cost control and product availability before agreeing to the requirement.
6. Contingency plan for delays
Timeliness of deliveries can be assured but not always guaranteed due to factors such as weather or road issues. Find out what their contingency plan is in such cases. Can they provide a same-day runner to address product shortage? Will they provide account credits? The options they provide will give you a picture of the customer support you can expect from them.
7. Ask if they offer discounts
Asking for discounts can be considered an unspoken rule in businesses. It is never wrong to ask about it. Ask if they are willing to offer discounts for bulk orders, early payment or cash orders. It doesn’t hurt to ask if it means saving money from your end.
8. Nurture relationships
This is particularly smart if you choose to work with smaller suppliers or vendors. Good business relationships can lead to discounts, bulk promos and clients for both parties. Make it a win-win relationship.
Finding the perfect balance between affordability and quality can be crucial to the success of your business.
Your food suppliers are the lifeline of your business. Choose those who you can trust and depend on.
Surprisingly, many chefs and restaurateurs still find sourcing ingredients to be a challenge. This is something that we at Anytime Chefs understands. When they collaborate with us, we can help connect them to suppliers for quality products. If this a challenge that you are facing now, give us a call and let’s talk about how Anytime Chefs can help you and your business!
That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!
Ciao for now,