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How To Choose The Right Restaurant Vendor

Vendors are the lifeline of a restaurant or food business. The quality of the raw ingredients directly affects the way your food tastes, how much it costs, and the customer experience. So for anyone in the food business, or looking to enter it, nabbing the right vendor is vital for success. Here’s how:


Knowing where to start can be confusing. Check for suppliers you might want to do business with online, and filter through the list by reading client reviews. It can also help to ask other local establishments for recommendations of trustworthy vendors. 


With local vendors, you are likely to get better-quality products at lower rates. It is easier to check claims regarding organic practices with suppliers in your area or even source ingredients directly from farms, butchers, and producers. Local sources are important among restaurant patrons who prioritize health-conscious and sustainable food. That said, you can look at larger suppliers for bulk orders or more exotic ingredients. 


It helps to be detailed about what you want when speaking to potential vendors for your restaurant business. Discuss the type of raw material you are looking for and the quantity. Some might have varying levels of quality, so you can discuss which levels you want and how much of each. Check the date and time potential vendors will be able to make deliveries to see whether this fits with your own scheduling. 


It’s typically not the best practice to go with the first vendor you speak with. Compare business practices, supplies, costs, payment terms, refund policies, etc from numerous suppliers to check for the best deals you can get. Remember to discuss a credit period that can balance well with your operating costs.


Before confirming a contract with any vendor, inspect ingredients to check if they match the quality you are looking for. It might be a good idea to visit unannounced if possible just to be certain. Based on your observations, you might be able to negotiate prices better.


When visiting a vendor, it is always a good idea to inspect their storage areas and go over their supply chain. It will give you an insight into their hygiene practices and business ethics. Avoid contracts with those engaged in illicit trade and unfair employment practices. It may not affect you directly at the time but it drives exploitation within the industry.


Given the uncertainty that exists particularly in the hospitality industry, it might be prudent to have more than one supplier. If one vendor is unable to supply ingredients and produce in time or in the quantity you require, you can always fall back on another.

PRO-TIP: Maintaining strong relationships goes a long way in sustaining a successful business. It can help you get discounts, discover new ingredients or qualities of ingredients, and relaxed credit periods when times are tough. It will also ensure consistency in quality which is the most important factor in running a successful restaurant.

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