Suppliers play a crucial role in the success of a food business. After all, without ingredients, no high-end restaurant, quick service, café, or bakery would be able to serve any food to their customers.
When you’re in the food service business, your relationship with suppliers is critical. In fact, there are more benefits to staying in good faith with vendors than just getting a steady supply of ingredients.
For one, they can provide useful information about products and services that you might need in your business. A wise entrepreneur would accept every ounce of help when starting a business.
They can also offer their expertise in evaluating potential new offerings, help you determine which opportunities would bear fruit, and even share updates about your competitors.
In some cases, your food suppliers can also become your business partners. They can help you reduce costs, improve your menu, or even fund new promotional campaigns.
If you want to improve your vendor-food service business relationship, then you’re in luck. We at Bidfood gathered some intel on the six best things you can do to maintain a fruitful work relationship with food suppliers:
Like all other kinds of relationships, the one you’re establishing with a supplier requires crystal clear communication. This means you should express your expectations early on to avoid misunderstandings that lead to hiccups along the way.
Remember that businesses – even similar food service businesses – have varying methods and internal processes. Thus, it is likely that your standard protocol for food safety, quality control, and logistics may be quite different from those that your suppliers have.
Help them understand your internal processes by laying it out in detail. For example, if you have specific software for supply chain traceability, you should inform the supplier about it and explain their responsibilities in the process.
Even better, offer examples of what is considered a good order and what is unacceptable to make sure that there is no confusion. This will help lower the risk of errors in the future.
Aside from laying out your expectations, you should also keep the communication lines open. Remember that any businessperson won’t necessarily know everything about his company and customers, so never assume that your suppliers do.
This means that if you have an issue with their service, you should bring it up and call someone’s attention. Don’t skip complaint protocols and move up to the chain of command until you go through the proper channels.
In case the issue still remains unsolved, then you can start reaching out to those in a higher level of management. This way, you’ll have someone with enough authority working to remedy the issue and prevent it from happening again.
If it still doesn’t work, then it may be high time to sever your relationship with that particular vendor.
Aside from following your supplier’s SOPs and letting them in on yours, you should also remember to be considerate. Keep in mind that you’re not the only client they cater to, which means that you should adjust your expectations accordingly. Being a considerate client would help you build a strong relationship with your supplier.
Trust – like communication – is a vital part of any relationship, and a supplier-food service business relationship is no exception. Never turn back on an agreement without sufficient cause so that suppliers will feel comfortable doing business with you.
Say, for example, you committed to getting 5,000 pounds of homegrown coffee from a specific beverage supplier for a special kind of latte you’re planning to offer your customers. If the sales report for the month reveals that the drink didn’t perform well, you cannot just tell your supplier to sell it elsewhere – that is a grave breach of their trust, not to mention your contract.
Whether you use it or not, you should stick to the agreement and buy the items regardless of its performance at your restaurant or store. Not only will this help you prevent breaking a binding contract, but it will also show the supplier that you know your trade and respect their business, too.
Aside from maintaining open communication and building trust, you also need to be honest in order to foster a healthy supplier-food service business relationship.
If you’re dissatisfied with their service or any other aspect of a transaction, you should speak up. However, you must find a constructive way to express it to avoid coming off as confrontational. Then, work with them to come up with a solution that benefits both parties and honors your existing agreement.
Just remember that honesty goes both ways. And you must always stay civilized, even when escalating a complaint.
Part of being honest is opening up about your future plans and business goals. This covers any plans to expand, downsize, and just about anything that can affect your future transactions with the vendors. Nobody wants to be blindsided by a significant change, so make sure that your suppliers remain in the loop.
Establishing a solid relationship with suppliers should be easy enough if you foster open communication, honor trust, be honest, and stay considerate. Follow the tips we have listed on this blog, and you should do just fine.
Are you looking for a reliable food supplier for your foodservice business? Send us a message or look around our website for more information. Bidfood has a wide range of food and beverage offerings that may suit your specific business model. We’re looking forward to establishing a fruitful relationship with you.