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Tips to find the right food supplier for your operation

Posted by Guest Blog - Will Harmon, BlueCart / 5-Dec-2016

Tips to find the right food supplier for your operation

There’s no getting around it.  Working with one or multiple suppliers is the facet of business that drives competition and populates the market.  As a chef, restaurant owner, or operations manager, the importance of finding the right supplier doubles. Your food quality, dining experience, and reputation entirely hinders on your supplier's ability to back up their promises and keep your shelves stocked.  

When selecting your first supplier, or reevaluating your current suppliers, it is not prudent to go with your first prospect or the first person that rubs you the right way.  Your perfect supplier will hit a number of items on this checklist, so let’s get into how to find your ideal supplier.

Accommodates YOUR Needs

One of the most common missteps when chefs and restaurant owners make when selecting a new supplier is beginning the process by researching the services that the supplier offers.  This is an unproductive method and will often land you in a sea of similar suppliers.  Instead, take the time to comprise a list of your needs before you even begin searching for your perfect match.  This means documenting, in detail, what it is you’re looking for in a supplier.  This will allow you to paint the clearest picture of what you need in a supplier. Use the checklist below as a general template for your needs, and build on it accordingly:

  • Quality assurance processes
  • Order availability and lead times
  • Methods of delivery
  • Minimum and maximum order quantities
  • Payment options
  • References

Product Excellence

Doing your homework is the imperative next step in finding your ideal supplier.  Above all else, you need a supplier with a proven track record of product safety, quality, and punctuality.  Product recalls are just about every business’ nightmare, no matter which end of the value chain you’re on.  Double checking to ensure your tentative supplier is following all basic food safety compliance procedures.  Compliance entities like Rizepoint specialize in making the restaurant industry a safer place for both restaurants and food vendors.  At the end of the day, the quality of your food sets your bottom line, and your best bet for securing your reputation and high-quality goods is taking the time to find a reputable supplier.

Market Knowledge

The right supplier will be able to supply you with much more than products and materials.  Suppliers can be vital sources of industry information.  This allows them to help you evaluate the potential of adding new items/ingredients to your order list, target new opportunities, and gain competitor insights.  Ultimately, this turns a business relationship into a partnership which creates value for both parties involved.  Your value is increased by:

  • Cutting costs in the form of supplier discounts
  • Improving the quality of service you receive through frequent interaction
  • Bettering your buyer/supplier relationship

 Download our free guide on how to supercharge your kitchen and run a more  profitable operation.

Following these steps will considerably increase the odds of finding your ideal supplier.  Putting in a little effort will make a world of difference for your kitchen's operation, even though it’s so easy to accept the first supplier who knocks on your door.  If you find yourself in a position of finding a new supplier or replacing an existing supplier, keep these steps in mind in order to attract not only the right supplier, but a new business partner as well.  

Do you have other great tips to share?  Let us know in the comment section below.

Mini guide to help professional kitchens to drive revenue and reduce costs

Bio: Will Harmon is a marketing associate at BlueCart, an online and mobile ordering platform for the hospitality industry.  When he’s not busy being a social media guru and creating content, you can find him learning about procurement practices and hunting for wild pizza.

Photo credit: Vince Lee via Unsplash

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