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Blog | Inventory

(Part II) Is it a Win-Win? Make Sure Your Food Supplier is Delivering on their Promise

Humans are naturally creatures of habit, and that brings us comfort, especially in our relationships. Sometimes comfort leads to complacency. In the restaurant biz, you rely on a lot of relationships. And sometimes, even your all-important food suppliers can fall short on delivering their promise. Even if you feel things are going pretty well it’s […]

Humans are naturally creatures of habit, and that brings us comfort, especially in our relationships. Sometimes comfort leads to complacency. In the restaurant biz, you rely on a lot of relationships. And sometimes, even your all-important food suppliers can fall short on delivering their promise.

Even if you feel things are going pretty well it’s important to occasionally do a gut-check to make sure you’re getting the most out of your food supplier.

As part of your restaurant inventory management process, it’s best practice to conduct a relationship audit, whether annually, bi-annually or simply spot-checking each month. Surveying staff who interact with your suppliers is another great way to get feedback (or even having a supplier discussion topic in your team meetings can be helpful).

There are a few critical questions you should ask yourself (you might even have a few more).

Is your supplier consistent and accurate?

Do your suppliers show up when they say they’ll be there for every delivery? Do you receive the items you ordered in the right quantities and at the price you were quoted? Establish performance goals and a regular cadence to review.

Does your supplier have a quality-assurance process in place?

Even though cheaper ingredients lead to better margins, poor quality products can turn off customers and give your business a bad name. Maybe sustainability and farm-to-table is something your restaurant hangs its hat on. Regardless, you should know where your food comes from and the time it takes from packaging, picking and/or preparation to the time it makes it to your back door.

Every once in awhile, get a bid from another supplier to check your prices. How competitive is the pricing?

This might sound like a tedious task, but with an inventory software system, you can easily compare prices between suppliers on like items. Instead of having to look back at paper invoices, potentially inaccurate spreadsheets, a robust inventory app with a vendor catalog import will let you see all three of your suppliers’ latest prices in one spot.

Paying more isn’t always a bad thing but it’s important to know what you’re paying and how that compares to other prices.

Are you getting good customer support when you need it?

You and your supplier should keep an open line of direct and transparent communication, addressing issues before they get out of hand. If you feel your supplier is more often than not providing you with mediocre products or service, and they have not responded to feedback, it might be time to ’86 them.

Does your supplier pass the Smell Test?

Too good to be true? Here are a few last words on spotting a rotten deal.

  • The quoted price is consistently inconsistent with the invoice.
  • Deliveries are often late and happen during service hours.
  • Product is shorted without advance notice.
  • Supplier substitutes product that won’t actually work.

We all know managing restaurant inventory isn’t fun, but your suppliers should help make it a little easier with quality products and great customer service. HotSchedules Inventory app is also here to help guide you through the details of restaurant inventory management, including managing your vendors in once central system of record.

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