Is your distributor a real partner or just an order taker?
Making this determination means analyzing whether your supplier is fulfilling your basic needs. Here’s what a healthy partnership can do for a restaurant owner:
• Increase your profits by reducing costs. Great partners will suggest new menu ideas from their product line. They will pass along cost savings opportunities and labor saving best practices they’ve come across, including seasonal purchases that are of great quality and low cost. Partners will also prepare quarterly reviews that highlight areas of opportunity for your business.
• Increase your sales. Your distributor should ask you how business is going and offer to help you boost sales or customer frequency. After all, increased sales for you translate to more case volume on their truck.
• Attract new customers. Good suppliers will be aware of market trends and will share them with you. Tapping into these trends early on will help bring new customers to your establishment.
• Retain customers. A supportive partner will help you evaluate what’s working and ensure that your decisions take into consideration what your current customers like and want.
• Provide a reliable source for products and services. It may sound simplistic, but if your distributor doesn’t care about your business, there is no downside to telling you that they are out of product and services that you need and depend on. A good partner will help keep that to a bare minimum.
• Reduce costs through manufacturer deals and better yields. Your supplier knows what cost savings are available and a true partner will ensure that you are aware of them and how they can be used to positively impact your bottom line.
• Help you stay out of trouble with the health department. A savvy distributor knows how to help you comply with OSHA and local health department standards.
• Allow you to gain a competitive edge. Does your distributor fully understand your business and know what makes it successful? A great partner knows this and contributes to your strategy.
Think about this: Is your distributor the one that other distributors are reacting to, or is the reverse true? In other words, is your supplier partner proactive on your behalf?
It’s generally true that if a customer is just working with the least expensive distributor, then that customer will always be replacing distributors. If a distributor is just selling groceries or moving boxes, then that distributor will always be replacing lost customers. A true partnership is truly valuable, on many levels.
Lee Plotkin brings more than 26 years of purchasing expertise and 6 years of operations experience to the table for growing restaurant companies. Plotkin has achieved great success in streamlining purchasing operations, setting up win-win scenarios and taking cost out of the supply equation for emerging brands. His company, L. P. Enterprises, works with small to medium size restaurant operations to create or improve upon their purchasing programs, which results in substantial savings and helps set the foundation for successful growth. Among his clients are Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, Pollo Campero and Truluck’s Restaurant.