As a restaurateur, you have to manage various aspects of the business, including the staff, menu, customer relations, and inventory. Staying on top of all these elements is crucial if you want to run a profitable and successful restaurant.
Although all these operations require your full attention, there is one area that you may have to focus on: managing your inventory. After all, without the necessary ingredients and supplies, you won’t be able to serve and sell any item on your menu.
Managing your inventory means knowing the exact number of supplies coming into your restaurant, what goes out of the kitchen, and what is left in the pantry. When you can stay on top of all these, you will know when to replenish your stock and avoid running out of ingredients. You will also prevent food waste.
Establishing and maintaining a good working relationship with your food supplier should also be part of your inventory management practices. When you neglect your distributor relationships, you will have more issues to deal with.
Working With Your Food Supplier
If you want to have a smooth and beneficial working relationship with your food supplier in the UAE, follow these tips:
1- Respect your supplier.
To have a successful working relationship with your supplier, you have to realize that both parties should profit from your collaboration.
This means that you should understand that working with your supplier is not a one-sided relationship and that you should also help them gain something from your partnership.
You can start by respecting your food supplier.
Be polite when speaking with your supplier even if you are under pressure and stressed out. Additionally, always keep your end of the bargain. Pay on time and avoid making unreasonable requests, especially ones that are not listed on the contract, if you have one.
Showing respect also means setting realistic expectations for your suppliers.
Keep in mind that respect always begets respect. If you are considerate of and have high regard for your supplier, they will show you the same. Because of this, they will be unlikely to cheat or look for ways to squeeze a few extra bucks out of you.
2- Build trust.
Like respect, trust also goes both ways.
Your supplier wants to trust that you will stay loyal to and order from them constantly. And if you decide to work with another vendor, they expect you to be upfront with them about it.
As the customer, you need to believe that your supplier is not stacking the deck against you on purpose.
When you are honest with your supplier, you can expect the best service from them.
Moreover, if you are not always questioning your vendor’s motives, you will feel more confident and comfortable working with them. This can lead to a better, more mutually beneficial working relationship.
3- Maintain good communication.
Honest, professional communication is also a great way to establish and maintain a good relationship with your food distributor.
At the start of your working relationship with your vendor, discuss your goals with them. Ask them how they can help you achieve these goals. The best suppliers will listen to you and share suggestions that will enable you to grow your business.
Also, stay in touch with your distributor regularly. Aside from sending them emails and messages and calling them when you have to order something, invite them to your restaurants when you have an event.
You will also do well to visit them in their office from time to time and have short chats with them.
Lastly, maintain communication, especially when problems arise. Inform your supplier if you received products that do not meet your expectations. Let them know if your customers do not like the items you bought from them.
4- Give your supplier enough lead time.
Another way of showing you respect your supplier is by giving them enough time to process your orders or source ingredients that they do not currently have but would like to get for you.
Doing so gives them the chance to prepare your orders and find the supplies that you need.
Using a POS system can help you stay on top of and manage your inventory better. The right software can alert you when your supplies are running low and not when you are completely out of them.
Because of this, you can send your purchase order to your supplier while you still have some supplies to use. As a result, they won’t need to rush to deliver your order and you won’t have to worry about running out of ingredients to use in your dishes.
You can also use your POS system to send automatic order forms when your supplies reach critical levels.
5- Support your supplier’s business.
All businesses can use a little help from time to time. Aside from expecting to get the products you purchase from your supplier, give them a boost, too.
Recommend your supplier or their products to other restaurants or customers who want to buy some items in bulk.
Also, consider using your supplier’s products to inspire restaurant menu ideas. Once you start serving them, give them feedback on how your customers are responding to these items.
Post photos of these new dishes and tag your supplier. This simple tip will give your distributor additional exposure on social media, which can boost their marketing and branding efforts.
Another easy way of giving your food distributor a helping hand is by engaging with them on social media. Like, share, and leave positive comments on their posts.
Leave positive feedback about your supplier and their products on review sites as well. These good reviews will help your food partner build and boost their credibility, which will help their business in various ways.
Lastly, if you visit your supplier’s store or facilities, take photos and share them on social media and your monthly newsletter. Add some captions about your great partnership with them, the cleanliness of their premises, and the friendliness of the staff to strengthen your bond with your vendor.
This marketing strategy will also help you and your supplier get more customers.
Building a successful working relationship with your food supplier takes time and effort. When you follow these tips, you can get an advantage in establishing and maintaining a mutually beneficial partnership with your distributor.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online, and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.