Running a restaurant, a school cafeteria, a food delivery, and any other food service business is so much easier with a reliable food supplier.
Equipment and tools can be purchased just once or twice a year, but ingredients should be restocked almost every day, without fail. This means the vendor you choose must be able to meet the demands of your business while still delivering quality ingredients that will help boost your brand reputation.
With plenty of food trading companies, it can be challenging to pick the right one. Lucky for you, there are five steps you can take to ensure that you make the right choice.
Step #1: Know What You Need
It’s difficult to find something if you have no idea where to start. For food supplier selection, this should begin with your business.
Before you can go ahead with your search, you first need to determine your specific needs.
Are you after locally sourced produce or want a supplier who’s nearby? Or perhaps you want flexibility in the delivery schedule?
These questions will help guide you in choosing a vendor to supply your business.
Here’s a tip: If you already have a final menu, it would be best to come up with a list of ingredients you will regularly require to streamline the search even more.
For example, if you’re running a shawarma stand or food truck, you may need to tap into frozen meat importers in Saudi Arabia to get good quality meat. If you’re running a café, a local coffee bean supplier who meets your requirements should be what you’re looking for.
Step #2: Research Potential Suppliers
After you define the parameters of your search, the next step is to research potential suppliers. Try to find out everything you can about their work and see whether what they offer actually meets your food business’s needs.
This will save you time, money, and effort in the long run as it will help you avoid failure of delivery because the vendor’s delivery schedule doesn’t cover the day you need your ingredients. It also prevents misunderstandings and unnecessary hassles with suppliers who require order pick-up when you are expecting them to deliver the ingredients to your doorstep.
Research also allows you to compare prices with other suppliers.
You can also talk to other restaurant owners and foodservice businesses about where they get their ingredients. This will help you get an idea of which distributors are most trusted and recognized across the industry.
You should also determine how distributors handle food safety by checking their accreditations and certifications. They should be able to provide proof of this as well.
This is crucial because it’ll affect the quality of ingredients you get and the overall safety of your customers. All this will reflect on your brand, so make sure you choose someone who takes food safety management seriously.
Step #3: Check the Availability and Quality of their Products
The size of a food distribution company doesn’t determine its capacity to deliver what you need. The truth is, even a massive distributor may not have some food supplies you require or be unable to meet your specific requirements, so it’s best to check first before signing up.
Figure out whether they carry all the core ingredients and specialty products you need. Otherwise, you may need another vendor in a specific niche to cover what’s lacking.
Besides sufficient supplies, you also need to make sure that the vendor has the right quality of products based on your requirements. The grade, type, and size of raw materials you need should already be pre-decided beforehand to avoid inconsistency and discrepancies.
For instance, if your dishes require pureed tomatoes, the supplier should be able to provide mature but quality products.
Step #4: Ask Questions
Inquisitiveness isn’t a sign of distrust, but a way to build trust.
This means inquiring will help you find the right partner vendor. Just make sure you ask all the right questions when narrowing down potential food suppliers. There are plenty of generic questions you can use as a guide, such as:
- Can they deliver your orders on time, all the time? Punctuality is crucial in a food business vendor. Otherwise, you may face delays in your food business operations. Determine their guaranteed turnaround time for deliveries and see how this would work for your business.
- Can they deliver even on weekends and holidays?
- Do they offer seasonal options that apply to your business?
- What about their terms of credit? Look for reasonable and negotiable credit offers. This should help you manage your running capital better. Just remember not to keep it too long to avoid the risk of accumulating
Again, these are just general questions you need to ask potential vendors. The final list of queries should also include ones that are specific to your business.
Step #5: Check Your Budget and Negotiate Prices
During the business planning stage, you should already have an estimation of the allotted capital for supplies. Take this and use it to develop a budget that is as close as possible to the actual product prices on the market.
A budget serves as a reminder of how much you can spend on food suppliers. It would also help determine the range of costs you should look for in a vendor to achieve your desired profit margins.
After checking your budget, it is time to negotiate with suppliers.
Doing this can help you save on supplies, especially if you buy products in bulk at sosa or any other online store. You can also get discounts if you enter into an official agreement with regular suppliers. This can help minimize costs while still ensuring the high quality of products as well.
Choose the Right Partner
Food suppliers serve as your partner in your food business. Your choice of food supplier will greatly affect how well your business will do later, so decide carefully and cover the bases by using this step-by-step guide.