5 Questions to Ask Before Choosing Restaurant Distributors

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There are over one million restaurants in the U.S and all of these need reliable food distributors.

Restaurant distributors are the lifeblood of eateries as they provide this establishment with high-quality products that their customers can enjoy. Perhaps you’re browsing restaurant distributors and you need help choosing an appropriate one.

Sound familiar? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Here are five questions to ask.

What Is a Restaurant Distributor?

Before we dive into what to ask bulk restaurant distributors, it’s important to understand their role. Distributors collect food from producers, store, and then give them to restaurants. It may also include products that aid consumption like utensils, plates, and napkins.

Because of this, restaurants must find a reliable distributor who consistently provides good-quality products to keep their customers coming back.

The Top Questions to Ask Restaurant Distributors

You know what restaurant food distributors do so now you must decide whether they’re worth your time. A great way to do this is by asking the right questions. For example:

1. Can I See Your References?

Whether you’re browsing restaurant equipment distributors or food supplies, consider their references so you get honest feedback about the company.

Check the vendor’s website for customer testimonials to see whether they’d recommend this distributor. As a general rule, they must be trustworthy, easy to work with, have fair prices, and be known for their high-quality products.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to their restaurant clientele either. You can ask them whether they’ve had any had problems with the vendor and if so, how did they make it up to them? Luckily, most restaurant owners will give you an honest evaluation and may sway your decision.

2. Do You Have a Minimum of Maximum Order?

You should ask local restaurant distributors whether they have a minimum or maximum order. Successful restaurants know how crucial inventory management is so your kitchen must coincide with the vendor’s delivery requirements.

For instance, if the vendor delivers too much inventory then you’ll lose money and waste food. Because of this, make sure the vendor strikes the perfect balance so you have a well-stocked fridge while avoiding surplus fees.

Around holiday times, most restaurants serve hundreds of meals a day and will need a large amount of food delivered each week. Because of this, ask restaurant supply distributors whether they offer discounts for high-volume orders so you can reduce food costs and increase your profit.

3. What Is Your Delivery Schedule?

Punctuality is crucial so the vendor must work with your schedule especially if they have clients scattered across the city. Plus, if your restaurant tiles on fresh ingredients then you’ll want a timely delivery so the quality of your dishes isn’t compromised.

Ask the frozen food distributor whether they deliver around holidays, outside of opening times, and if they need your staff to help unload the truck. This will show you whether the supplier has streamlined their ordering process and delivery routes. If they have, then you’re guaranteed reliable service.

4. Can You Add Value to My Orders?

Aside from regularly delivering supplies, vendors should offer you more than stock. They should be your consultant and help you think outside of the box so you can give guests more exciting menu options.

For instance, your restaurant distributor may suggest ordering from a local farm so you can access better quality beef and strike a better deal as there won’t be import fees. Reputable vendors are like sales agents so find one that is invested in your business as they have the expertise so your restaurant will thrive.

5. What Are the Payment Terms? And Do They Have Insurance?

You’ll find there are two common payment options: cost-plus-fixed price and cost-plus-percentage price. As you can guess, the former means restaurants pay for the price of the food along with a fixed fee for the delivery.

Cost-plus-percentage means you also pay for an added percentage. As a general rule, it’s better to choose cost-plus-fixed pricing because the price of produce is always increasing so this payment structure means it won’t compromise your profit margins.

You should also wait longer to pay the vendor because what you buy from them won’t be consumed for several days. Because of this, you won’t have the revenue to cover the order so negotiate with the distributor before signing a contract. Further, ask whether they accept payment online or if they insist on paying by cash upon delivery.

It’s also important to check that they have a liability insurance certificate. For example, if the distributors deliver a batch of spinach that has traces of E.coli will you have to cover the cost? Or will it be covered by insurance?

During the interview process, make sure that they have insurance so that they reimburse it for you otherwise you could face hefty costs.

That’s What to Ask Restaurant Distributors

Hopefully, after reading this article, you know the most important questions to ask restaurant distributors before signing a contract.

It’s important that the distributor offers high-quality ingredients, delivers on time, and has insurance should a problem arise. You must build a strong relationship with vendors so they can suggest new suppliers and guarantee that they’ll make delivery even around the holidays. Take time during the interview process so you can choose the best one for your restaurant. Good luck!

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