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(Part I) Is it a Win-Win? Make Sure Your Food Suppliers are Grade-A

Food and beverage suppliers play a key role in the success of your restaurant. You pride yourself on partnering with the best. Like any new relationship the beginning can be harmonious and productive, but it never hurts to double or triple check that your food and beverage suppliers are Grade-A. The foodservice distribution industry, according […]

Food and beverage suppliers play a key role in the success of your restaurant. You pride yourself on partnering with the best. Like any new relationship the beginning can be harmonious and productive, but it never hurts to double or triple check that your food and beverage suppliers are Grade-A.

The foodservice distribution industry, according to Mark S. Allen Jr., the president and CEO of the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA), with nearly 15,000 distributors, is incredibly competitive and robust. You have lots of choices on which companies supply your restaurant inventory, but what makes a supplier great?

Inc. Magazine interviewed dozens of entrepreneurs on this very topic. Their interviews revealed that the best service providers were able to successfully answer five important questions before a contract was ever signed:

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    • How focused will your company be on my company?

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    • Who will be working for me?

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    • What happens in an emergency?

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    • How do I know you’ll be there when I need you?

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    • How hungry are you for my business?

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Before signing the dotted line, you should make sure the agreement and relationship are clear to both you and the supplier. Once your supplier promises a standard around the quality of ingredients and a guarantee of accuracy, make sure there is a process in place in case there is ever a mistake or issue. If the supplier is not quick to make sure you are happy and gives you grief about accountability, that should be a red flag.

Details can be tedious, but it’s important that you have an agreed upon understanding of your product needs, expected pricing and payment terms. Holding each other accountable for agreed upon terms is essential to a healthy relationship that’s good for both businesses.

And remember, if someone is offering something that sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

What if you’re already serious?

These are great questions to ask prior to the contract and maybe even worth going back and addressing with your current suppliers. But what if you’re already in a serious relationship with one or several food and beverage suppliers and you feel your supplier has satisfied the questions above?

Check back next week for part II of our guide for making sure your current food and beverage supplier are making the cut.

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