Price is a key consideration, especially in tough trading times, but it should not be the only reason for choosing a supplier of your wholesale grocery supplier. Consistent product quality is critical to ensuring the future success of your business. Other factors such as the level of customer service and delivery lead times should also be considered to ensure suppliers fit in with the way you operate. Catering food suppliers need to meet every criteria to be considered as edible, so there are strict rules.
Personal recommendations are an ideal starting point when sourcing any new suppliers. Ask colleagues and industry contacts who they would suggest based on their experiences and contact accreditation bodies and trade associations such as the Fresh Produce Consortium for their recommendations for your restaurant & kitchen food distributors . When you find a potential new supplier, ask for testimonials and feedback from existing customers. Good suppliers should be happy to provide these, so don’t be afraid to ask. Visit each new supplier to find out more about their processes and how they source, pack and deliver each product. Trace-ability is another hot industry topic, particularly with meat products, so find out as much as you can about exactly where everything comes from.
When you find a supplier that you like, create some service level agreements (SLAs) – for example: delivery times and frequency, level of order fulfilment or your policy on product substitution. With these in place your new supplier will know exactly what is expected. There is now a greater emphasis on sourcing local suppliers to help minimise food miles and to make the most of fresh seasonal produce. Look for opportunities to use local suppliers where possible and make the most of this by highlighting locally sourced items on your menu. Selecting the right suppliers for your business needs is vital to ensure that you are able to deliver your products and services on time, at the right price, and in compliance with your quality standards. By implementing specific supplier’s selection criteria, it’s possible to identify companies that will work with you to meet the demands of your customers.
Create a list of the supplier’s selection criteria that companies need to fulfil to be able to provide you with the items you need. This could include issues like:
- Lead times from receipt of your order to delivery
- Minimum and maximum order quantities
- Storage and handling facilities
- Specific methods of delivery
- Quality assurance processes
- Payment terms and conditions
- Return policy
- Contactable references
Setting the criteria in advance will enable you to evaluate potential suppliers on each of the listed items and ensure that you don’t overlook any important requirements.
Identify the methods that you will use to find suitable suppliers. Decide whether you will publish your requirements in trade publications and call for bids, or whether you will approach selected companies directly for proposals and estimates. Allocate a time frame for conducting your suppliers selection process. Appoint qualified members of your team to review the proposals and recommend a short list of suppliers to choose from.