It is important to have a good working relationship with your foodservice vendors. Your vendors if treated well, will make life much easier for your business to run smoothly. The business relationships you develop with a vendor will carry over into many aspects of the business; marketing, promotions, networking and staff training.
Most salespeople are happy to work with you on pricing of wholesale items. As long as they meet their bottom line mark-ups and quotas for the month. Salespeople are people to stay on the good side of. They may know other restaurant owners who can be good contacts for you and can make introductions. They may go out of their way to help you; that goes beyond what they need to do as part of their role as a salesperson in return for being well treated.
Encourage good relationships in your establishment between your Chef and your foodservice suppliers. The same goes for your bartenders and General Managers with your beverage suppliers. Your Chef likes to feed a visiting salesperson a cup of chowder when he or she comes in to get an order. The cost of a cup of chowder may result in getting a better price on the 400 lbs. of clams you order every month. So don’t begrudge a little leverage, granted if they are feeding them tenderloins, you may have a problem.
Vendors frequently will have specials on items. In the case of beverage (wine and beer) vendors, they may have promotional items that you can give away free to customers. From a marketing perspective, this is a great thing to take advantage of. A bad relationship with a vendor will result in you not being made aware of these sales and promotions.
You should use at least one Broadline vendor. In addition, buy from a small selection of reliable trustworthy smaller vendors. Some consumables change prices on a weekly basis. It is a good idea to have at least two seafood and produce vendors that you buy from. Most vendors can either fax, e-mail, mail or hand deliver price lists on a weekly or daily basis. Staying on good terms with your vendors will guarantee that you get this information on a reliable and timely basis.
Ask for a tour of the vendor’s operations. Most vendors are more then happy to give you a tour if asked. If you can take the time to go for tours, take your management staff with you. Many people in the restaurant industry don’t have any idea of what a meat processing operation looks behind the scenes. It can be an eye-opening and very valuable learning experience.
One of the additional benefits of developing long term relationships with not only the vendors but with great salespeople, is when the salespeople move on to another company, which happens frequently in the industry, they will continue to be there for you, whether you switch to their company or not.