More or Less Suppliers: Which is better for your Restaurant?

In the foodservice industry a vast number of critical decisions have to be made. One of those decisions owners must decide on is how many suppliers they are going to utilize for their restaurants. Is it better to have a few, select suppliers or a vast number of them? The following points will assist in answering this question:

Foodcost_Suppliers1) Very Specific Ingredients

Looking at the ingredients used in recipes is one of the biggest steps that need to be taken into account when making this decision. If your restaurant uses very exotic ingredients or spices that are difficult to find, it might be difficult to have multiple suppliers. Only a select few suppliers in the area may have these items in stock. On the other hand, it could be helpful to have a few backups in case one of the suppliers eventually decides to stop selling the item altogether.

Related: Less is More: The Case for Fewer Menu Items

2) The Quality of Food

A major concern arises when we discuss the quality of the food. Having too many providers means that the quality could suffer from time to time. If you have a number of suppliers bringing in the meats, vegetables and so forth, it’s almost impossible to have products of all the same quality. In a more casual establishment, customers might not notice a slight variation in taste; however, no guarantee exists that the change in food will go unnoticed.

3) Supplier Stability

In today’s economic climate, it is difficult to tell whether a business is going to stay afloat for any length of time. As a result, having a number of suppliers in your network could be of major assistance to you. If, for example, one shuts its doors, you will still have others waiting in the wings. Still though, in order to keep their business, you will have to use them on a regular basis. Otherwise, they will go out in pursuit of more regular clients.

4) Financial Matters

One of the benefits associated with remaining loyal to a particular supplier is as your relationship grows and strengthens; the supplier might be inclined to give you deals on certain products. If you are constantly jumping around from supplier to supplier, no opportunity exists to build such a relationship. On the other side of the coin, having a network of suppliers means you can be more choosy with your price. In the event that one supplier is not giving you the price that you want, you can certainly negotiate a little by comparing the price to another supplier. If the initial supplier won’t give you the price you want you can move on.

Related: 7 Tips in Determining your Restaurant Menu Content and Prices

In Conclusion:

Having both more and less suppliers each has its own benefits. With fewer suppliers, you can possibly get a lower price in the long run, find specific ingredients and control the quality of food. With more suppliers, you have more negotiating power, an array of food choices and better economic stability. The route you choose is up to you and what is best for your particular business.

Whatever decision you make, try to select suppliers with knowledge and insight into your specific industry. This way they can advise you on new trends and products. The correct supplier will be able to help you with preparation and staff training. They will hopefully also assist you with product samples and demonstrations.

Now it’s your turn. How do you decide on the number of suppliers? Share with us below.

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