Breaking Up With Your Vendor? 9 Tips To Choose The Best One

Unless you have a working farm behind your restaurant, you will need to develop good relationships with trustworthy vendors to run your business. Choosing the best vendor for your restaurant can take a fair amount of research and consideration, but the right organization can make your business run smoothly. After all, keeping your restaurant stocked with the right ingredients and necessities can make or break your reputation with customers. If you run a coffee shop, for instance, running out of your best-selling grounds on more than one occasion could shake the confidence of even your most loyal patrons. (A shop of caffeine-deprived coffee fiends is not a pretty sight.)


A standout vendor can make sure your supplies are delivered on time, help you adjust to industry trends, and provide quality ingredients for your wares. While you may need to shop around and try out a few vendors before hitting the perfect match, keeping your standards high will help you find the dependable vendor of your dreams. The vetting process does take a bit of time. However, once you have an established rapport with a vendor who provides your local restaurant with everything it needs right on time, you’ll be in a much better position to serve your customers the quality they expect.


1. Compare Prices


Price is not the only factor to consider when choosing a vendor, but it certainly has a big impact on your decision. As explained in Food Safety Magazine, comparing prices on your most crucial goods is one element to keep in mind when deciding among various vendors. The amount of work involved is also worth considering: would it be more cost-effective to buy ready-made pastries, or is it cheaper to pay your staff to bake? The cost of the goods themselves, as well as the amount of training and labor your staff may need to work with them, are elements that deserve careful examination.  [bctt tweet=”Consider cost of goods and labor needed for food prep when comparing vendor prices.” username=”joinhomebase”]


2. Monitor The Product Quality

Getting the goods you need at a price point that works with your budget is only a portion of the many elements to keep in mind: quality is also a huge consideration. As explained in Forbes, it’s a good idea to tour the facilities and inspect their handling and packaging practices, especially for fresh-food vendors. A worthwhile vendor will have procedures in place to ensure your shipments stay fresh and safe. After all, your final dishes will only be improved by using quality ingredients. Also, it’s a good idea to inspect at least a portion of every shipment for quality control, because one bad apple could (rather literally) spoil the bunch.


3. Negotiate Vendor Terms

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with potential vendors to get the deals that work best for your business. Of course price is always a good starting point. But as noted in Restaurant Engine, you may also consider negotiating the delivery schedule or payment terms. For instance, instructing your vendors to make deliveries on Tuesdays, in order to have enough stock on hand to cover your weekend rush, is a simple way to cover all your bases. Even working together to find the best time of day to receive deliveries (i.e., not during the lunch rush) is an easy way to make your vendor work with you.[bctt tweet=”Don’t be afraid to negotiate with vendors to get the deals that work best for you.” username=”joinhomebase”]


4. Try Before You Buy

When you’re comparing several potential suppliers, getting samples of their goods is a smart idea. After all, you don’t want to get stuck with several shipments of lousy tomatoes just because your new vendor exaggerated the descriptions of their quality. As explained in Score, seeing samples of your vendor’s products — and even trying them out when appropriate — is always a good call. This is one time when making purchases sight unseen may backfire. After all, you only want the best for your customers.


5. Check Out Service Quality

Working with a vendor who supplies the best veggies in the world won’t mean much if they can’t deliver the goods on time. Late orders, invoice response delays, and other mistakes may complicate your ability to serve customers, as noted in CBS News. It is crucial to choose a vendor who is trustworthy and dependable. If your restaurant is renowned for its amazing guacamole, for instance, the last thing you need is an unreliable avocado delivery. Hammer out the delivery details beforehand, and hold your vendors to a reasonable standard.  


6. Work With Customer Service Staff

You go out of your way to provide great service for your customers; likewise, it may be helpful to seek out a vendor whose staff will go the extra mile for you. As explained in the Houston Chronicle, vendors who have dedicated customer service staff are more likely to meet your needs. A responsive staff will help correct any immediate mistakes, and over time you can develop an exceptionally good working relationship. (After all, they want to retain your business as a client).


7. Consider The Order Minimums

If you’re running a local restaurant, then you may not have the need — or storage space — for giant-sized orders of goods. Make sure your vendors can accommodate smaller orders. You don’t want to be stuck with more fresh produce than you can use before it spoils.


8. Adjust For Trends

Whether it’s Sriracha sauce, cronuts, or bacon-covered everything, keeping up with food trends can help your restaurant stay relevant and popular. For instance, Forbes predicted that gussied-up versions of meatballs, sausages, and breads will be the next “It” foods. Working with a vendor that can help you adapt to industry trends will make this process even easier.


9. Check References

You don’t have to take your vendor’s claims about quality at face value. Find out what other restaurants your potential vendor serves, and call around to check up on their real-life performance, as recommended in The Food Service Warehouse. It’s an easy way to ensure your chosen vendor can back up their claims of excellent service.
For more tips on running your local restaurant, check out our Back To Business page.

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