When you think of starting a restaurant, most people think of the décor, the menu, and the kitchen. What they don’t consider is the restaurant supply chain.
You’ll need to ensure you have fresh food every day, ready to go. This means the supply chain needs to be carefully planned and set up. You should be able to easily procure the raw ingredients you require on a regular basis and accurately manage the quantity, as well. Any food that spoils and is thrown away is a waste of money, so you need to be careful about how you order.
What is Restaurant Supply Chain Management?
Before you get started with your restaurant, you should have a good understanding of what a supply chain is. This refers to the required steps to get raw materials from the source to your kitchen. There are usually multiple steps involved.
Sourcing raw materials: First you need to find the food suppliers, such as wholesale food distributors or farmers. They will have the raw ingredients that you require for your restaurant.
Logistics: The shipping of the ingredients from the source to the restaurant is the next step. If you are working with a wholesale food supplier, they may offer their trucks and provide delivery. Otherwise, you’ll need to learn how to get the ingredients to your kitchen.
Production: Finally, once you have the raw ingredients, you need to turn them into something your clients will love. This involves cooking the food for your restaurant.
Distribution: Now that you have the food, you need to get it to your customers. In most cases, this means simply delivering to the table or delivering to the customer’s home. If you are selling your food in other places, then getting it to those stores or shops will be the distribution step.
Inventory: As you make more and more food, your supplies will dwindle. Part of managing your supply chain is knowing when to order more raw ingredients to ensure you have what you need when you need it. You may need some time to learn to balance having enough and not having too much. It’s a skill that becomes honed over the years.
This may look very straightforward and when everything is working well, it’s a good system. However, there are often interruptions to the supply chain. If one thing goes wrong, you can easily end up with no food to provide your customers, which can result in closures. Over time, this has happened many times. It’s important to be in contact frequently with your suppliers so you are always aware of what is happening.
When you anticipate a supply chain problem, you can change the menu, find an alternative source for the ingredient, or simply close the restaurant down for a period of time. Everyone has to do what works best for them, but there is a chance to adjust and adapt to the problems if you know in time.
How to Choose a Vendor
There are several factors that go into choosing the right food vendor for your needs. It’s essential that you have a food vendor you can trust, but what else should you look for in a supplier? Here are a few things to consider:
Products: Of course, you will team up with suppliers who offer what you need, but it’s ideal if you can purchase multiple ingredients from the same wholesale dealer. This will reduce the number of companies you need to work with and will also reduce the number of deliveries you need to receive. If they provide a large number of your fresh ingredients, this simply streamlines the entire process. Keep in mind that getting all your ingredients from one company may save time, but it will also cause a bigger issue if something interrupts that supply line.
Prices: You’ll want to check around for prices. After all, the cost of raw ingredients has a direct impact on your business, as you need to set your prices high enough to cover both the cost of the ingredients and the time spent on making them. Even a slight increase in cost can change everything on your menu. This is especially true when it’s something that you use in most dishes, such as eggs or milk.
Delivery: Do they offer delivery? If you can have the ingredients delivered to your door, this saves an immense amount of time and energy picking up food. These savings may be passed on to your customers or directly into your profit.
Reputation: The reputation of the business will have a big impact on whether you decide to work with them or not. If you’ve been told by multiple sources that a company is good or bad, it’s best to believe them. You want a wholesale company with a great reputation for quality products and good customer service. This is especially important when you’re just starting out with your business, as there will be a steep learning curve.
Wherever possible, you want to outsource delivery and similar tasks. This will help you save time and focus more on the actual running of the business. A supplier you can trust to deliver on time and with consistent quality is worth its weight in gold. Once you find such a supplier, you’ll want to continue with them for as long as you’re both in business.
Managing Your Inventory
One of the biggest challenges in running a restaurant is managing your inventory. If you purchase too much of something and it isn’t used up, you end up throwing away spoiled food. This is a huge waste of money, so it’s important to stay on top of your inventory and avoid ordering too much food.
Unfortunately, the opposite can also cost you money. If you offer promotion and everyone buys it, but you don’t have enough ingredients, you’ll end up losing money from disappointed customers who may leave a bad review. This can affect your restaurant’s reputation for quite some time.
You’ll find that it helps to look at ingredients that can be frozen for later use. If you buy too much pasta sauce, for example, it may be frozen in single-portion sizes and thawed as needed. However, many things cannot be frozen, such as lettuce, tomatoes for salads, cucumbers, etc. This means you need to become very good at estimating how much food you’ll need.
Plan your marketing campaigns and stock up accordingly. If you’re promoting a new sandwich, make sure you have plenty of ingredients to make that salad, so you can avoid running out when the demand is high. There are also certain ingredients that will always be popular and in demand, such as milk, cream, eggs, and sugar. These basics and others will need to be stocked up on regularly, so you will find it quite easy to estimate how much you’ll use.
For example, if you serve eggs every day to your breakfast clients, you can expect to continue selling roughly the same amount over time. This makes it simpler to order more when you get low and to correctly estimate how many flats you’ll need.
It may also help to track what sells, so you can look back in a year’s time and see what is popular during various seasons. For example, pumpkin spice foods and drinks may be popular in the fall, while peppermint desserts pick up around December. By keeping track, you’ll know when to increase your purchases for certain ingredients.
Running a restaurant is hard work. It can be quite rewarding, but there are many areas to coordinate and plenty of planning to be done. With the right supply chain and a careful look at your inventory, you should be able to do quite well.
Are you looking for a wholesale food supplier? Freshways offers a range of products including dairy and bakery products, all fresh for your customers. Contact us today to learn more.