What is the most important relationship in gastronomy? The relationship to your supplier? Maybe, you work with them daily, spend more time with him on the phone than with others. They are essential to ensure that your restaurant has a complete stock. Without them and their products, you would have to give up your business.
We’ve worked with a number of restaurants over the past few years, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned: you need your suppliers as much as they need you. We also know that you and your supplier operate businesses and that your different goals can make the relationship difficult. To avoid this in the future, we have disclosed some facts. Things that apply to almost every business.
Truth # 1: Everything is negotiable – asking is important!
Fluctuations in food prices are not uncommon. Managers who keep an eye on their food will understand when prices are rising. This has the potential to dramatically influence your company’s net profit. Menu management is also an essential part – why not just exchange the expensive food with other products?
For a company that invests a third of its budget in purchasing, preparing and selling food, you must always get the best prices for the ingredients. If a price is too high, it is understandable that you are looking for another supplier to compare the price or ask for a better one.
Whether you want to calculate it in your head, on a calculation sheet or with the help of a software: It is important to know when food prices of your most used items will rise. If you notice price increases, call your supplier and ask for the reasons. Ask for a better price if you buy larger stocks. Ask for a discount if you recommend your supplier to another restaurant. Ask for an offer for a few months while you open a new location.
Negotiate until you get a price that you can work with.
Truth # 2: You have more control than you think
Again and again, it happens: it’s lunch time and your supplier is at the back door to bring the delivery. A product might be incorrect. These Granny Smith apples you wanted to serve with ice cream were exchanged for Red Delicious. They are not on the menu and would not work. But you are busy. In the middle of the hasty delivery, you are too exhausted to remember the exact number and price of the wrong item. Therefore, the credits fly out the window and with them the possibly saved money.
Many accept this as a fact. This is how the trade works. Suppliers are inconsistent and chaotic. But another truth that we have learned is that suppliers have more control over the process than you think. It’s just a matter of demand.
Give your representative a list of days and times that are suitable for delivery; the more variants, the better. Ask your representative if he is tracking your credits and informs you about discounts. If you receive an incorrect item, or if an item is missing in the delivery, do not wait, let your representative know immediately. Inform him of the exact time, delivery and packaging units you want.
Keeping up with these details will prompt your supplier to check their reliability and punctuality.
Truth # 3: The success of the customer comes first
Many have concluded a kind of camaraderie with their representatives. They think about them, like friends. The third truth is that the best relationships do not flourish because of the comradely attitude, but because of the success of the customers comes first.
You and your representative must share the idea that the company comes first. As a business you must make money. You can do this by ordering food from your supplier. In turn, your supplier is in a company and needs to make money. The best way to do this is to offer you a professional, punctual, reliable service and to communicate clearly with you.
Suppliers should offer you a competitive advantage by communicating market trends and changes in legislation and health care. You should point out new substitutes for your most popular items to make you healthier, more reliable, or more money-saving.
You give your representative a lot of money every year. In return, the latter should do everything in his or her power, so that you as a customer are perfectly satisfied. Just as the guests of your restaurant are in the priosity, you should be that for your representative.
Truth # 4: There is no mutual control
How do you check whether your supplier complies with his contract or not? Your negotiated prices and the delivery times you have asked for? The truth – and this is the last we’ve learned – is that most restaurant managers do not follow each other’s control of their suppliers.
You are busy. It’s hard enough to figure out who’s going to go for the next shift without worrying about your supplier’s promises. You need an effortless way to test your experience with your supplier as often as you keep your finger on the pulse of the relationship. Trust is good, but control is better!
Here is the point where a quarterly review of your company is important. Once every three months, contact your supplier. Appreciate things that are important to you in terms of customer success. Show him which prices have increased over the past few months and for which products you spend the most money. These quarterly company inspection meetings have caused wonders to our customers. Or rather, a lot of savings and a consolidation of the supplier relationship.
Improve your relationship with your supplier
If there is something that these four truths have revealed, it is that the restaurant-supplier relationship is mostly not perfect. There is room for improvement on both sides.
Suppliers must prove themselves and be your expert to help you get the best price and exact delivery times. You need to take more control of the process according to your offered service.
They must also prove themselves. Ask questions when things do not seem right and fight for excellent customer service. Negotiate prices, make realistic expectations of your suppliers, and carry out company reviews on a quarterly basis. Of course you should also pay on time.
You have to deal with your suppliers every day. They depend on them. They trust you. Your working relationship with them should not be difficult. So talk to your suppliers about these unspoken truths. Every relationship lives by a healthy communication.