A restaurant’s menu is only as good as its ingredients. To satisfy your guests, your restaurant needs to establish a reliable supply chain. Whether you’re serving coffee and scones, barbecue, or sushi, it’s vitally important to source the best possible ingredients for your kitchen.

In short, your relationship with a food distributor can make or break your business. And while perishable ingredients are especially important, this relationship can also impact your flatware, kitchen utensils, and even your furniture. Are you satisfied with your supplier, or looking to make a change? Here are the top qualities to look for in a restaurant distributor.

 

Reliability

Long term business success means being a fixture in your customers’ lives. To build lasting relationships with your guests, you need to deliver the experience they’re craving, every single time. A good restaurant supplier should be just as reliable. Work with a company that can provide the ingredients you need all year round – not just when they’re in season in your immediate area. Of course, some of your specials may come and go (there’s a lower demand for Pumpkin Spice Lattes in July); but if your lettuce is only delicious in the spring, you’ll miss out on important salad sales during the rest of the year.

A good supplier can also anticipate your needs. Some suppliers can provide you with information about food trends and changing industry standards. Work with your distributor’s representative to grow your business and make high-level business decisions about your upcoming inventory and menu.

 

Versatility

For better or worse, the restaurant industry is an exciting one. As your business continues to grow, you’ll find new opportunities to connect with guests. Maybe you’ll run a booth at a street fair, or perhaps you’ll start catering large-scale events. You may even open a new location in a different state, with a different climate than your original store. With every new opportunity, you’ll need to update your menu and your business plan.

Top-notch restaurant suppliers can help you achieve even the loftiest goals. If you expand your hours to start serving breakfast, talk to your distributor about purchasing baked goods and coffee in addition to your regular cuisine. It’s far easier to place a new order with the same supplier than it is to connect with an entirely new company every time your business gets more successful. Large-scale restaurant suppliers can easily match your growth, even as your restaurant’s goals change over time.

 

Quality

Your customers deserve the best – and so do you. Look for a restaurant supplier whose deliveries consistently impress you. Whether you’re ordering apples, oranges, or cloth napkins, make sure your business is stocked with items that will make a good impression on everyone who walks in your door. Established suppliers can sometimes know what you need even before you do. For example: if you’re ordering a new set of wine glasses for the third time this year, maybe it’s time to invest in something a little more sturdy. Working with the knowledgeable rep of a well-established company makes these decisions easier, faster, and more affordable.

Supply and demand is one of the basic principles of economics. If you supply the best, your customers will demand more and more of your cuisine. With a strong, versatile supply chain, your restaurant will not only improve customer loyalty – you’ll also increase the overall profit and longevity of your business.