Build up trust to strengthen your brand

19 November 2007
Build up trust to strengthen your brand

If you're serious about managing your supply chain responsibly, you must develop close relationships with your suppliers, says Mark Derry, chief executive of Loch Fyne Restaurants

At the end of September, you would have found me on horseback riding through the outskirts of the Brazilian rainforest, surrounded by lush woodlands and fresh springs. This isn't a holiday story to make you jealous: the trip was my most recent supplier visit to Loch Fyne's sole coffee supplier at Fazenda da Lagoa, an Utz Kapeh plantation.

The trip proved valuable for us and strengthened my belief in getting to know your suppliers face to face and seeing the products first-hand before they're packaged or processed.

We started sourcing Utz Kapeh-certified coffee as we wanted a supplier committed to producing coffee in the most environmentally and socially responsible way. I made the trip with Doug Wright, our executive chef, and it enabled us to see the care taken in the coffee production and its context in the local society. This has strengthened our commitment, and we're even working to create a bespoke coffee.

Spending time with suppliers and seeing them at work is important for two key reasons: for operations and quality assurance purposes, and to allow you to communicate with confidence to your customers. Increasingly, people want to know every detail of where their food has come from, right back to the guy who picked the coffee bean for their espresso.

A trip like this is valuable for strengthening the relationship and trust between you and your supplier, with each party clear and confident that they're paying or receiving a fair price. From a quality assurance perspective, what better way to take responsibility for your supply chain and really understand where your food comes from?

When you can demonstrate, hand-on-heart, that you know the source and stories of the food and drink you serve, you can communicate with conviction. By sharing these stories with customers, showing responsibility for what you're serving and the people involved in its production, you can strengthen your brand and gain the trust of your customers.

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