Business and EDU

Tips for Choosing Vendors for Your Food Business

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Whether you are running an ice cream shop or fancy restaurant, the vendors whom you choose to supply your ingredients and equipment are part and parcel of creating a thriving venture. The importance of choosing the right companies to ensure long-term success of your business cannot be understated. While there may be some trial and error involved in finally settling on the best suppliers, this does not mean you cannot take important steps to minimize the risk of bad matches. Here are some helpful hints to guide your selection.

Establishing Basic Criteria for a Supplier

Before you start your search, you have to lay some groundwork. Meet with the stakeholders to get their input.  Depending on the nature of your business, this may just be one or two people, or a whole bunch from a variety of departments, from purchasing to marketing. What do you need this equipment to do? How will you be utilizing this food item? Clarifying your needs and wants from the get-go ensures a focused search that will end with the right supplier.

It’s Not Just about Price

This is a biggie, and one of the first tips you will see when discussing selection of suppliers for any type of business. But, it must be reiterated because it is all too easy to get caught up cost. Yes, it is clearly a main deciding factor, but let it be the only one and you could find your business in trouble.  In your quest to save as much money as possible, you may find yourself with some very expensive issues to fix down the line, costing your more in the long-run. Think carefully about your needs, and whether a can supplier meet them adequately with what they are providing. Don’t overlook support and customer service. Choosing low-quality ingredients, or cooking equipment that cannot properly put together the food on your menu can damage your reputation.

Perform an Assessment Before Signing a Contract

This is more applicable to suppliers who will be providing you goods on a regular basis, as opposed to the company who will provide your stove or fridge. You think you found the right business and are ready to start working together…great. But, before locking yourself into a contract, do a trial run to assess the supplier’s performance.  You want to perform an audit of sorts to track the stages through which the product eventually gets delivered to your establishment. You want to make sure there are no issues as far as compliance or quality goes. This will also give you a chance to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the vendor. Even after you sign a contract with a supplier, there should always be regular evaluation to ensure everything is running smoothly and up to par.

Equipment-Specific Considerations

When it comes to your equipment, there are some specific points to keep in mind. First, look for vendors who understand the specific needs of your type of establishment and know all about codes, utilities and the like. If you have a restaurant for example, the vendor should know all about setting up a kitchen. The supplier should also be abreast on the latest advances in technology, allowing you to optimize efforts at being energy-efficient and just efficient in general.

How much support is provided in regards to installation and training? Do they provide ample information regarding maintenance and troubleshooting? What do they provide in the way of parts and service?

With some homework and careful consideration, you can make smart decisions about choosing the best vendors for your food business.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of topics for the food service industry; she recommends visiting www.frozenyogurtsolutions.comfor more information on their products for frozen yogurt businesses.

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