Running a successful restaurant is a tough business: there are so many things to worry about and so many things that could go wrong that it’s a wonder any of them last for long. But they do, and the one’s that last do so because they make smart decisions whenever they can.
Because a restaurant relies on so many outside vendors — you don’t manufacture the equipment or, in most cases, raise and harvest the food — choosing the right suppliers is one of the most important business decisions you can make. But what makes a good vendor? There are a few things that good vendors have in common. Here are some of the things you should look for when choosing a vendor.
Don’t Just Focus on Price
Of course, when you are first starting out, you are going to do everything you can to save money, wherever you can. This is a natural concern — and a wise business strategy! — but you don’t want to forgo quality for cost.
But you also want to find a vendor that will continue to grow alongside your restaurant so you can develop a good relationship. This means that there is more to consider than just price: how do they respond to mistakes? Are they always prompt on delivery (you don’t want to get caught without certain produce on a busy day)? Are they willing to quickly fix any misunderstandings? These are valuable traits that all good vendors have.
Once you find out the answers to questions like these, then you can decide whether the price is right. If one vendor seems to be better suited to your needs, but charges more, then it may be worth a few extra dollars every month in order to have that professional confidence.
Look for Stability
Just like restaurants, suppliers in your area will come and go, so you want to find one that’s been around for a long time.
The longer a vendor has been around, the more information you can gather on them as well, so you can get a good idea of how they do business. You can easily find other companies that work with the vendor and ask them what they think about their services. This can save you a lot of time searching for the right vendor if everyone gives great marks, or you can move on if everyone says that they’ve had their problems.
Ask about things like early delivery or other red-flags that indicate they need quick cash. Also, find out about their executives: if they’ve had the same ones in place for a while, there’s a good chance that the vendor is very stable.
The Closer the Better
Another thing you want to look for in a vendor is proximity to your restaurant. This will come in handy during any emergencies.
The farther away a vendor is to your restaurant, the more likely something can go wrong. The food may not be as fresh as you want it, or they may be constantly late getting your orders to you. Finding a vendor within a few hours away is fine, especially if it’s a larger supplier, but if you are dealing with a small business, find one that’s as close to you as possible. Or, you can find a vendor with a good distribution network so they can get to you quickly (like this company online at Citarella.com).
Emergencies will happen, so you want to be able to get your supplies as quickly as possible. Finding a vendor that’s close to you will allow you to go get the supplies yourself, or allow them to reach your restaurant quickly. This will help you overcome any unexpected issues without breaking stride.
A Willingness to Help
One of the best traits you can find in a vendor is the willingness to help you out whenever you are in need. The restaurant business is filled with pitfalls, and a vendor who’s by your side can help you out of many difficulties.
If you form a good relationship, your vendor may even defer payments when you’ve had a bad month, or give you discounts on certain items. They may also prioritize your problems so they are solved as quickly as possible.
The relationship between a restaurant and vendor is an important one that can be a deciding factor in whether the restaurant fails or succeeds. Look for a vendor that can help you and is willing to go the extra mile.