Running a food hospitality business is hard work. Whether it's a restaurant, a cafe, a pub, a hotel, a Deliveroo dark kitchen, a deli or even a food truck - there is no such thing as a straight-forward day.
Every day there is something that requires your attention. Hiring. Firing. Equipment. Marketing. The website. The menu. Payroll. Rent. Bills. It is endless.
Choosing a wholesaler or distributor for your food and drink items can be just as daunting. You'll be relying on this supplier to deliver you exactly what you need, when you need it, at the right price to help keep your business operating efficiently.
Whether you're looking for your first supplier, or you've got a few already and are looking for ways to save time and money, there are five key things you should be top of your list when deciding if one or another distributor is the right fit for you.
1. Delivery Days
The best suppliers are going to offer flexible delivery days. London is quite a large city and it may be that some suppliers only have a driver in your area once or twice a week, while others are happy to come more often.
Most of our customers have Monday to Friday/Saturday delivery days and find they can manage their ordering well knowing they have such a flexible delivery arrangement. A supplier can have the best range in the world, but if they only offer delivery one day a week, you are going to have a hard time managing your stock levels.
Speaking of range...
2. Product Range
If you want to run your business efficiently you should try to minimize the number of food suppliers you are sourcing your products from. Every extra supplier you bring on board requires extra purchase orders, invoiced, payments, emails, phone calls - you get the idea.
Try to find suppliers that offer a wide range of products and even consider how you might be able to offer new products on your menu based on what they supply. At Food Republic we offer dry goods such a rice and grains, sliced meats, cheese, eggs, fish, juices, alternative milks - just to name a few product categories.
We have many businesses doing very well, coming up with high quality, creative offers for their customers using the brands and products we supply.
A wide range of products at a great price means nothing if it doesn't turn up, or if your chosen food distributor is often out of stock. You want reliable suppliers delivering your products. You want them to turn up when they say they will, with everything your ordered in good shape and ready for you to use in your business.
No business is perfect and inevitably will run in to stock issues every now and then - and it's during these times you need to know your supplier has you and your business in mind and will get in contact quickly to find alternative product options or simply to give you a heads up so you can arrange something else in time for the next day’s service.
You want a supplier that is looking after their vans. A supplier that is treating the products with respect. Treating your business with respect.
4. Food Safety
If you are selling food to customers, you are probably very familiar with the EHO and food safety ratings. These ratings serve two very important purposes.
Firstly, they ensure you and your team maintain high standards when it comes to cleanliness, food safety and hygiene.
Secondly, this hard work behind the scenes is easily communicated to customers through a rating. The higher the rating, the better the businesses food practices.
But have you ever heard of BRC? in our case, it's essentially a food safety rating for food distributors and wholesalers. It ensures we are operating our business and operations in a safe manner so our customers can be assured the ingredients they are receiving are safe to feed to their customers - because you've worked too hard building your business up to let a dodgy supplier ruin it all for you.
Food Republic are BRC Certified with A Grade JT 037/018/01. We work hard for these ratings and it is reflected in our results.
Some people think that price is the only thing that matters when choosing a food and drink supplier but without the other four key things we've been discussing, your chosen distributor can never be offering you the full package you need to focus on the other parts of your business that need your attention.
That is not to say price isn't important. It's one of the key controllables in your business. There are four main ways to improve profitability without increasing the number of covers - one of which is the clear winner;
- Reduce labour (affects service)
- Increase prices (affects appeal)
- Reduce portion sizes (affect customer satisfaction / value perception)
- Reduce cost of goods (ding ding ding)
We know we are competitive in the market with the products we offer and are always looking to help our customers remain competitive in their markets. Our account managers are always available to discuss new products and pricing and are happy to offer advice based on their own expertise.
Your supplier should make running your business easier, not harder. They should feel like a friend there to support you when things are going great, and when things are a bit tougher.
They should be able to provide advice, offer great products, pricing and delivery options. You should be able to order by phone, email, online or through apps and they should have a proven record of food safety to keep you, your customers and ultimately, your business, safe.
If you'd like to find out how Food Republic can help with all of the above, give us a call on 0330 555 5888, get in touch through our contact page or drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.