Price is a key consideration, especially in tough trading times, but it should not be the only reason for choosing a 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.
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.
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. Traceability 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 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.
➔ Ann Elliott, managing director, Elliott People
(firstname.lastname@example.org, 01296 714745)