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How to Set Up and Manage Restaurant Supply

All restaurants rely on suppliers for food, drink, linens, equipment, and more. Success rests on having excellent relationships with suppliers as much as serving quality food and having excellent customer service. The ideal restaurant supply relationship has to meet several criteria. Here's what to look for:

Do they have what you need?

This is the biggest and most important question when choosing a restaurant supply store. You should not have to settle for something just because your vendor has something like what you're looking for. They should have the exact match for what you need. If you're not sure what you need, a phone call to the vendor should clear up any issues.

Are they knowledgeable?

If you're just starting out in the business, your suppliers are going to be your lifelines for how much to expect for costs, delivery times, and other valuable information. If you have chosen an online restaurant supply place, do they provide information about their products? Is someone available to discuss and suggest solutions for your needs?

What do others think of them?

Don't be afraid to ask other restaurants about the people they use as suppliers. While they might see you as competition, there is also a sense of professional courtesy within the restaurant industry. Conversely, you can also talk to the restaurant suppliers themselves and ask them about their customers. Many suppliers have references that they will be more than happy to share with you upon request.

Do you agree with their policies?

Each restaurant supplier handles situations differently. It's always best to know what you're getting into before you develop a relationship with a restaurant supply place, online or otherwise. Learn about their policies regarding:

  • Weekend and holiday deliveries
  • Credit terms and payment schedules
  • Returns
  • Minimum order amounts
  • Late and inaccurate shipments (how well they do customer recovery)
  • Shipping and receiving
  • Privacy


Does your restaurant supply place have the best prices for their wares? Do they offer sales on items that you need? When you do your research, do you find that this restaurant supply place is equivalent in price to the rest of the places available?

Do you trust them?

This is perhaps the most important question that you have to ask about the restaurant supply place. It's not something that you can tell just by glancing at their website, it's a decision that is arrived at by talking with the vendor's representative. Do they make you feel comfortable when talking with them, and are you sure that they can satisfy your needs?

Each of these factors must be weighed before entering into a business relationship with the restaurant supplier. Call them, talk with their representatives, and get an idea of how they operate. Most business relationships last for years, so it's always in your best interests to have a solid conversation with your potential restaurant supplier. During that conversation, let them know a little more about yourself so they can talk about how to better serve your needs - the relationship will be better for it.

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