Choose the Right Supplier!

The choice of food products and supplies, especially fresh ones, is one of the fundamental but often underestimated points for activities in the Ho.Re.Ca. sector. The market offers a considerable amount of choice and the restaurant manager must orient himself among the different proposals, and choose the right one. Customers are the heart of your business, suppliers are one of the pillars. For this reason, choosing the best supplier is decisive for a food business.


The Risks of an Incorrect Assessment:

Each supply can be durable, perishable, or storable, with a more or less long shelf life: fresh food, packaged food, raw food to cook, frozen products, drinks which, once opened, expire (such as milk), etc...

  1. Take care of the warehouse: small as it is, it's better to optimize it. When the warehouse is big, the costs rise. The storage of your purchases should be done rigorously, without stacking recent boxes in front of the older ones: to avoid that previous supplies remain in the warehouse, perhaps until the expiry date. Another typical mistake is to buy a perishable or short-term supply of goods that is longer than what customers actually require.

  2. Here we come to the main problems that all food entrepreneurs face:

a. The lack of sales resulting from the expiration of the food

b. The cost of excess products in stock: try to prevent the products from expiring.

c. The lack of supply: for fear of buying too much, you buy too little.

The Strategies To Buy The Necessary:

Each product must be treated differently also according to its sales cycle and each product has its own shelf life. Start with an analysis of your warehouse and try to fit each product according to its sales cycle and shelf life. The 3 main families of consumer products for restaurants are:

  1. Line products: i.e. those products that are indispensable for the performance of customer service, with constant sales

  2. Trend products: the products required due to the influence of the fashion of the moment, often subject to a short life cycle, but by potential high earnings

  3. Niche products: all those high-end products that meet the demands of specialists, but which tend to be sold over the long term or in short cycles.

Adjust Your Orders:

In general, it's generally better to place small, frequent orders of all stocks with a short lead time and constant use. In order to be able to shop intelligently, you first need to know exactly what you want to offer, what your target group wants, what the competition is not offering. It is obvious that if you rely on the quality, preferring fresh products, you will attract more customers than offering products with long and very long shelf life, however, these are goods that expire earlier: making an accurate analysis will allow you to avoid economic losses.

Abound with the supply of:

  1. Line products (ex. fresh gastronomy for a delicatessen, or meat for a butcher's shop);

  2. Long-term products;

  3. Products with short and medium-term sales cycles;

  4. Niche products with short cycles but a long shelf life;

  5. Line products with constant short-term sales cycles (in this case it is better to risk throwing something away than to run out of food and stock that are essential for your business);

Order frequently, but in limited quantities:

  1. Short or long cycle products

  2. Short-term trend products (as can be the gastronomy for a butcher's shop: i.e. a product that is in demand but not part of the usual products of the activity)

How to choose a supplier?

One of the mistakes is choosing the cheapest one regardless. A mistake that can cost your business dearly. The supplier must be considered as your partner: he has not invested capital in your business, but the supply of your warehouse depends on him, and also the quality of the products you offer to customers. Moreover, your activities are related and if both go well, they both earn money. Try to reason in terms of partnership and not only in terms of supplier-customer: you establishes a relationship of collaboration and not only of periodic purchase.

Consider the following:

  1. Product Cost: if it's too convenient, ask yourself where your supplier saves money: On after-sales services? On delivery? Or on the quality of raw materials and processing?

  2. Product Quality: obviously high-quality products meet the taste of customers more inclined to spend, but they cost more. Quality should never fall below a certain threshold.

  3. Delivery Quality: a product delivered late decreases its shelf life, causes problems in warehouse management, and can cause you to miss an offer to the customer. Also ask yourself if deliveries are made directly from the supplier or if they depend on a courier. In case of problems, you will have to deal with two suppliers.

  4. Speed of delivery: especially for fresh and short-term products. Speed and flexibility are important: being able to place small and frequent orders saves you the need to have a large warehouse. If your suppliers are flexible, this is an advantage for you in providing quick responses to changes in customer demand and unforeseen emergencies.

  5. Supplier reliability: before choosing a supplier, be informed. Does the supplier deliver on time? Are your customers satisfied? Have you ever had major service discontinuities in the past? Remember that reliability is the key.

  6. Economic soundness of the supplier: request your supplier's latest balance sheet. Are you doing well or are your supplies at risk, like your business?

  7. Problem solving skill: anyone can have problems, it is part of the business, and it is quite normal. The difference is how they are solved: if they are solved professionally, admitting their shortcomings or if they try to hide problems.

  8. Possible willingness to work with you to promote your visibility.

  9. Advices: often underestimated, but very important because your supplier can give you important advice in many phases of the order, about the characteristics of the products, and how best to use them.

All these elements are important to be able to select a group of suppliers that will guarantee you quality products and services, able to satisfy your budget and your time, as well as to satisfy your customers.

The SmartBite Team

Read more on our blog: how to increase yout revenue with delivery partners during Coronavirus?

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