Choosing A Food service Provider

Reliable food service distributors play an important role in the success of your business and you will want to choose a distributor who provides good quality products with prompt consistent delivery.

You can find food service vendors online , in the Yellow Pages or by attending restaurant conferences or trade shows . Ask other restaurants in your area who they get their products from. Ask which suppliers they like in particular and why.

You will want reputable vendors who can provide the products and services you need at a price you can afford. But, try to keep the number of vendors at a minimum to cut down on the time of placing and receiving orders.

Your first step after choosing your vendors would be to set up an account. You can do this by phone, mail or you can meet with a sales representative.

Many distributors will set up cash or check only accounts until a credit rating has been established.

Setting up the day and time for deliveries is important. There needs to be someone to log-in the delivery, check the food temperatures and put the products away. Also, you don't want your deliveries to come when you your restaurant is busy. The trucks are large and take up parking space and may block entrances.

Placing you orders with your distributor in some instances, such as with sysco Food Services can be done online. Your distributor may have a sales person call you for your order and/or to remind you to place your order. They will usually have a reminder list of items you order frequently to make sure you don't leave anything out.

Some questions to ask the distributors are:

  • Do you deliver on weekends?
  • What are your credit terms?
  • What is the minimum order?
  • What is the lead time for placing an order?
  • What is the delivery schedule for your area?
  • Will you call in advance to let me know if your are out of a product?
  • Will deliveries be disrupted during labor disputes?
  • Do you place food items in the walk-in coolers or freezers?
  • Do you break cases (meaning one gallon of an item, instead having to buy fa case)?
  • Do you honor competition pricing?
  • What the return policies are for items that may be open, broken, or leaking when they are delivered?
  • What products will be subject to seasonal pricing?

Your distributor salespeople are important to your business and developing a good working relationship with them will help you succeed. If you run out of a product or forget to place your order, they can help you get the products you need. They are also, a great source of industry information.

Remember your sales and delivery people eat out and talk with a lot of people in the community so train your staff to be courteous and to have a pleasant environment for them to deliver their goods. Offer them a cold drink or cup of coffee and make sure you have a designated area that is kept open for them to deliver their goods.