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Your vendors, whether the ‘Top Two’ (Sysco and U.S. Foods) or one or more of the other countless distributors, are the lifeline to your restaurant’s livelihood. Whether you’re sourcing food and non-food items from a single vendor or rely on a couple distributors. You need to ensure that you’re getting the most from them with as little disruption to your restaurant as possible.

The right ingredients for purchasing like a pro

Purchasing processes don’t have to be a laborious task that your back-of-house employees avoid like the plague. With the right software you can reduce order handling time, control your spend, and better manage one, two, three or more suppliers simultaneously. 

In an industry where margins are, in most cases, wafer thin – you need to avoid financial loss at all costs. Well managed procurement processes are key to ensuring that you always have the right amount of products and ingredients. Although a bit of a balancing act, inventory management software can take the guesswork out of what to buy and when. Compare the prices of the goods you need across all of your suppliers and purchase from the distributor that provides the best price for the quality you need.

Quality meals require quality products

When it comes to quality, selecting vendors who consistently deliver quality products will make frequent visitors out of your diners… not to mention the new customers you will acquire through word-of-mouth. 

So, what happens when you receive products that are damaged, spoiled or of poor quality? First, be sure the contracts you have with all of your vendors cover incidents of this type. And when it does happen, the vendor should quickly replace the unusable goods or provide you with a refund. 

What if the worse case scenario actually happens? The beef brisket that was to be the weekend special arrives spoiled, and your distributor cannot replace it until the following week. While changing your special is an option, having multiple suppliers that can quickly get you the goods you need provides a win-win solution. 

Know your distributors

How well do you know your vendors? Have you toured their warehouses? Are you on a first name basis with not only your sales reps, but your delivery drivers? Creating and maintaining trusting customer/vendor relationships is critical to the success of your restaurant.

Like any relationship, there will be ups and downs. When a problem arises you should be able to talk through the issue and come to a mutually agreed to solution. If this is not the case, it may be time to reevaluate the partnership and start the courting phase with a new supplier.

Look at the whole picture

We’ve all heard the phrases “money isn’t everything” and “you get what you pay for.” While you need to be financially sensible, selecting suppliers solely on price can be a recipe for disaster. However, when you deal with multiple distributors you can compare prices to ensure you’re getting the best price possible.

Be sure to add product quality and trusting relationships into the equation when selecting distributors. When you and your suppliers are in sync, the entire process from pricing and terms through purchasing and delivery to invoicing and payment becomes more efficient and nearly effortless – regardless of the number of distributors you use.

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