Fast-paced, high-pressure, and filled with long hours—saying the hospitality industry is challenging is a major understatement. In fact, 60% of restaurants fail in the first year while 80% close within five years.
However, like any investment, the ones who take risks are rewarded well. As a restaurant owner, you can improve your odds at business success by reducing food costs and overhead expenses, one of the main reasons for failing businesses.
To make sure you’re not paying more than you should for your ingredients, you need to source them from the right vendors. Keeping your suppliers to a minimum is also important in ensuring costs are low so we came up with a quick and comprehensive guide to choosing the best suppliers suited to your needs.
Even before reaching out to any vendors, you should make a list of the things you need—from pans, kitchen tools to perishable ingredients—and identify what you need to prioritise.
For example, if your restaurant is focused on serving premium steaks, you’ll want to spend more time looking for quality meat vendors than vegetables. On the other hand, if you’re promoting a farm-to-table menu, focus on sourcing fresh and locally sourced produce. Your food menu will also dictate the type of wines, beers, and spirits you need to choose for your beverage list.
Consider your resources as well. Does the added time for shopping and picking up goods costing you more money than opting for bulk orders and delivery?
Find out the available vendors you have access to and weigh the different pros and cons. National wholesalers may not have the most gourmet ingredients, but they usually offer a broad range of selection and discounts.
Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables straight from farmers or the local farmers market may cost more and may be inconsistent depending on availability during harvest. However, they are a lot fresher and there’s an opportunity to build relationships that can lead to discounts or first access to rare and seasonal produce.
For alcoholic beverages, you have the option to purchase from distributors and wholesalers who usually carry national and mainstream brands or choose to buy directly from local breweries and boutique wineries and access small volume but high-quality beers and wines.
Ask your chefs, mixologist, and team members for vendors they have worked with in the past. More often than not, they already have existing supplier relationships that you can leverage.
You can also check with national organisations for their recommended vendors. For example, the Restaurant and Catering Industry Association of Australia Inc. has a supplier directory on their website that’s easily accessible.
You can also ask around from other chefs and restaurant owners for their preferred suppliers and get some testimonials. You’d be surprised how most of them would be willing to recommend vendors because they have agreed to a referral program.
The online world can also be a good resource when finding the right suppliers. It’s important to ask the right questions and look at reviews to know how reliable they are.
Apart from Google results, you can join Facebook Groups or visit forums to see what others have been saying. There are also online B2B marketplaces you can join such as Yume Food and Ordermomentum.
For beverages, there’s WINEDEPOT MARKET, the world’s first end-to-end Vineyard to Venue™ online marketplace. The intuitive and easy-to-use platform provides you with access to thousands of products from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and beyond.
It lets you order from multiple sellers and consolidates them into one delivery schedule at your preferred window, with same and next day metro deliveries also available. It also offers a broad range of flexible payments including debit, credit and the “interest-free buy now, pay later” option via Zip.
Finding reliable and quality vendors require some time and effort. Once you find them, you’ll need to build a good working relationship and negotiate smartly to get better deals.