How to choose your restaurant suppliers
Suppliers are almost as important as a restaurant menu, since they directly influence its quality and the service offered to the clients. Each restaurant has different needs, so you must select the most appropriate suppliers for your circumstances. In the following article we describe some of the points you should take into consideration when choosing the best providers.
Before choosing providers
- Decide what your menu will be like. Design an efficient, well thought and organized menu to meet the needs of your clients, but also to simplify the management of your raw materials.
- Know your needs. Figure out which are the products for daily and occasional use, the special ingredients for events or for group menus and make a detailed list of all of them.
- Budget. Pay attention to the cost of making each of the dishes on your menu and make sure that your cooks know it too. It will be easier to control of your perishable ingredients and how they are used. It will also help you plan purchases and optimize your budget.
- Have an efficent purchasing manager. Communication between the purchasing manager and the supplier or distributor is key. Make sure that the person in charge of this task in your restaurant manages the needs of your premises and informs your suppliers and distributors adequately.
What should a good supplier offer?
- Quality products. Select suppliers that match what you offer at your restaurant and that provide products of the highest quality. To save costs, choose seasonal products.
- Local products. Fresh local products will make the quality of your dishes stand out, but they will also reinforce your restaurant’s commitment to sustainability. Your customers will appreciate it.
- Great value for money. Select suppliers that offer an excellent value for money so you can optimize your budget. Remember that the ingredients should not cost more than 30% of the final price of each dish.
- Impeccable service. Good suppliers must be punctual, organized and comply with regulations. It’s important if they and their distributors care about knowing the needs and timetables of your kitchen to meet deliveries. Communicate your philosophy and your needs to the distributors of the brands that serve you the product not only to ensure a good service but also to be able to react faster when something unforeseen happens.
- Order management. If the management of your business is still not computerised, start thinking of the tools available (for the warehouse, refrigerators and order placement) and make sure that your suppliers and distributors have what suits you.
- Added-value solutions. Many suppliers have understood that they must be more than just a company that sells products. Choose those who offer you that extra added value: technical information on their products, recipes, uses or innovative ideas to make the most out of your purchase. Instead of a supplier, look for an ally.
The restaurant-supplier relationship
- Be informed. Ask for references on each supplier and ask to see all the required licenses, accreditations and certificates of origin to make sure they comply with all food safety regulations.
- Supplier management. Make a comparative table of suppliers to decide which one best suits your needs, especially for perishable products such as fruit or vegetables, as their price varies every week. Make sure you have alternatives in case one fails.
- Negotiate. Flexibility is important to agree on prices that suit your needs and on payment methods that help you save money.
- Communicate. You should never stop communicating with suppliers so that they understand the needs of your kitchen.
In summary, when choosing suppliers for your restaurant, go for those that best suit your needs and offer a service that matches what you offer in your business (delivery days, schedules…). Choosing a good supplier also helps build the image of your restaurant.