Think beyond price to expertise, reputation, transparency and selection when choosing a vendor.
Restaurants rely on suppliers for everything from dining tables in the front of the house to ingredients in the back of the house. These vendor partners are essential to building your business, maintaining your reputation and driving profits. The difference between winning and losing in the marketplace can be the value your vendor partners deliver.
Here are five qualities to look for when entering into a new relationship with a vendor.
- The right supplier wants you to grow. Beyond simply selling products or services, a supplier should be proactively learning about your operation and looking for ways to help support your business goals. A vendor that truly wants to help grow your business will be consultative, understand your challenges and offer up market insights that give your business an advantage against competitors.
Great relationships between operators and vendors yield better on-target purchases, creative menu solutions and competitive pricing.
- The right supplier is transparent. Your vendor should be open and thorough with information about sourcing, sustainability, manufacturing procedures and their supply chain. Even better, they let you visit the farms or do a plant tour so you can experience the operation. Vendors must provide transparency—it's no longer an added option, as you and your guests are entitled to know what you’re buying.
Katy Jones, chief marketing officer for FoodlogiQ, says “You can’t offer consumers the information they want about your product and processes if you aren’t getting that information from your suppliers and brokers. And you cannot expect a supplier to fulfill your requirements around safety and brand promise if you aren’t open about your expectations. It’s a two-way relationship that can make a huge difference in your business.” Look for suppliers that know the stories behind their products.
- The right supplier offers more than product. You should be looking for more than just a transaction. The most helpful vendors understand that. Companies like Clemens Food Group, for example, offer ways to help operators grow their businesses. This should include collaborative culinary support, innovative products and programs, and vital data about consumer tastes and trends.
Clemens offers a Customer Experience Center—with meeting rooms and an industrial kitchen in which the vendor hosts meetings and training sessions, holds menu innovation events and teaches both its customers and team members about all things pork. The Experience Center’s culinary and product development teams conduct product trainings, facilitate menu ideation sessions and will conduct cuttings and sample Clemens products.
- The right supplier has a strong reputation. Although price is a consideration for any operation, when it comes to food, the integrity of the product is essential. With protein and produce vendors particularly, it’s important to ask about the farms that supply the vendor. How stable are those relationships? What is the reputation of those operations? A vendor’s reputation can also be assessed by asking for references and contacting those operators directly. Are deliveries reliable and is the product consistent? If questions or problems did arise with the vendor, were they dealt with in a satisfactory way? Finally, consider the vendor’s history. Are they new to the market or are they long-established in the foodservice industry?
One of the aspects of Clemens’ business its customers value the most is that they are a sixth-generation family-owned business. They’ve earned a reputation as a world-class partner to their farmers and stewards to their animals, and as trustworthy suppliers to customers.
- The right suppliers offer a variety of products, including premium offerings for maximum profits. You need different products for different applications and a supplier to walk you through the best choices for every application or menu item.
Clemens Food Group offers products from the broad Hatfield® line that includes ham, bacon, sausage, loins, roasts, ribs and more, to the wholesome and all-natural Farm Promise™ brand and, finally, the Hatfield® Premium Reserve Pork® line—steakhouse-quality products made with the authentic brining and larding techniques for rich, melt-in-your-mouth flavor that commands premium menu pricing. When looking for a vendor for a particular category, ask yourself if the supplier can meet all of your menu needs.
For more information about the broad line of Clemens pork products, visit Clemens online or at MUFSO booth 207.