We know when things go south in a commercial kitchen, it can be hard to regain confidence in the people you depend on day after day. Whilst we can’t wave our magic wand to fix things for you, we can give you some tips on how to reduce the risk of things going wrong with your orders.
I’ve spent more than 25 years supplying venues with their produce, as a meat wholesaler and at Foodbomb, and whilst I’ve seen some venues get things seriously wrong - I’ve also seen some venues be really smart about how they manage their orders. Here’s what I’ve learnt:
- Communication is key - If you have an important event that you’re planning for, give your suppliers a heads up. Let them, or your Foodbomb Account Manager, know in advance about the special function, order, new product requirements or a one-off delivery time. A chat to discuss and confirm requirements can go a long way, plus they’ll be able to tell you what is and isn’t possible - but more than likely - if you’re a loyal customer they’ll be sure to go over and above to ensure you’re able to put your best foot forward.
- Never sacrifice quality or service to save a few bucks - As someone who’s sat in the seat of the wholesale supplier, I can tell you every supplier focuses on trying to offer their customers three key results: the best price, quality and service. But the reality is that it is very hard to offer all three, all the time. If you can only get two of these qualities, I strongly recommend you choose quality and service. If your goods are always delivered on time, the quality is high and missing or substituted products are rare, you will ultimately save time and therefore money. Plus this way your customers will always receive the highest quality and your staff will never be frustrated.
- Carry more stock - I’ve worked with 1000s of venues and I know nothing is more frustrating than having your order turn up late or not having it turn up at all! It’s a bit of a balancing act because things can go wrong (on either side!) but to minimise this it’s worth considering carrying more stock to reduce likelihood of errors. For example, if you’re going to order 20 steaks everyday then there is going to be more risk associated with your orders compared to if you were to order 60 steaks, every 3 days. Less deliveries = less room for error!
- Order a day in advance - Ordering a day in advance takes all the stress out - for both venue and supplier - and especially if it’s for a function or special event! By ordering a day or two in advance you’re giving your suppliers warning of what you need and ultimately giving them more time to come back with any questions or concerns.
- Avoid Saturday deliveries if you can - Treat Saturday’s as an emergency or top up delivery and avoid using it as a main delivery day. Suppliers often run with skeleton staff on Saturday’s, no support and no chance of a second delivery. So if things can go wrong, it’s likely to go wrong on a Saturday, so why risk it? Additionally suppliers generally don’t get fresh deliveries on Saturday morning’s, so the stock you are being delivered will likely be all Friday’s stock.
- Different ≠ worse - This is particularly important to keep in mind when changing suppliers. If you’re changing suppliers, chances are you’re not happy with your existing supplier. Try to keep an open mind when trialing a new supplier, not everyone does everything the same way - plus, if you wanted it the ‘same way’ why change in the first place?
- Teething problems will happen - But teething problems does not equate to poor service. Deliveries arriving too late or too early, products not prepared to specs or items not packaged correctly can all be fixed very quickly. Suppliers are trying to meet the needs of hundreds of venues, that all have different requirements, so communicate your needs and appreciate that the transition to a new supplier isn’t always perfect the first time. If you have a Plan B, you’ll either be pleasantly surprised when things go off without a hitch or be prepared when things go awry.
Lastly, don’t forget - suppliers are your friends. They are not the enemy. In fact, the venue and supplier desires are aligned. A good supplier is always looking to provide their venues with quality produce, at competitive prices & delivered on time to reduce complaints and create lasting relationships.
To recap, make sure you order in advance, order more than enough, treat Saturday’s as a top up day and most importantly communicate regularly with your supplier to manage your expectations and needs!
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About the author - Paul Tory
Paul Tory is the Founder and CEO of Foodbomb. With over 20 years experience in wholesale, he also ran a home meat delivery business Butcherman for 8 years. So he knows a lot about the wholesale food supplier business!
Butcherman connected consumers with over 30 independent butchers throughout Sydney. However when cafes and restaurants began to approach his B2C operation Paul realised there was a B2B need begging to be met, and so the Foodbomb journey began!