Sourcing ingredients are one of the top priorities for any successful food business. Choosing the right food supplier is a critical business decision, as one has to guarantee the quality, safety, and value of the food offered. It’s a restaurateur’s responsibility to cater to customer and client needs. This has to comply with government regulations and quality standards, and provide quality meals, all while keeping the budget under control. As government and industry put a stronger emphasis on food safety and quality; so, evaluating and selecting the right supplier today has become even more complex.
Manish Tandon, CEO, au bon pain & Sagar Daryani, Co-Founder, WOW MOMO spoke candidly about best practices in working with suppliers to drive brand sales and profits, as well as the importance of cutting ties and moving to other vendors when the time is right.
How do you find the best suppliers for your brands?
Your relationship with your vendor is like a marriage: you should be able to complain or argue with your best supplier, and at the end of the day, you will have hopefully corrected any problems and made up. Before you commit to a vendor, you have to shop around. Make sure that your vendor has outstanding references by asking them what restaurants they serve and contact those restaurants directly.
au bon pain- Manish Tandon says,” The process of identifying a supplier is a step by step process. Firstly, we identify the products for which we need a supplier and establish a set of product specifications. Then we ask the available/reputed suppliers to provide us with samples. Basis the product quality check and price quote, we negotiate on the price for our volume. Then our team does a vendor facility audit for quality and hygiene and cross check all legal requirements. Based on the audit report, we finalize the best vendor/supplier.”
WOW Momo- Sagar Daryani says,” What you put into the food, that’s what comes out of it. A quality product will always ensure that you have repeated customers which make your quality brand. When it comes to suppliers or raw materials, this entire ecosystem goes by the word of mouth. All our food ingredients for our packaged foods, we have one single vendor with whom we operate nationally, with a direct tie-up with the brand. We ensure that we get the required quantity in the right quality to maintain the consistency of our brand. When fresh food is concerned, we look for vendors supplying to other big chains, say the best chicken vendor in Delhi or Mumbai and accordingly we get the samples.
How does the supplier's performance ultimately impact the brand?
Your customers love your food and the service, but it’s a delicate thread that binds them to you. All it takes is one or two disappointing meals, or their favorite menu item is sold out; or, the food is not as fresh as it could be… and one day you realize that you haven’t seen that family in a while.
au bon pain- Tandon says,” Restaurant business is very unpredictable because we deal in a lot of perishable ingredients, hence supplier performance plays a very crucial role in building a brand image. Some of the key areas of supplier performance affecting the brand image are: timely delivery, quality as per desired specs, Emergency support in case of urgent requirement.”
WOW Momo- Daryani opines,” If there is marginal complacency from the suppliers, with sluggish service or problems with the delivery of the product; it hampers the entire supply chain logistics. Brands like us who are producing and selling on a daily basis, suppliers have to consistent with their efforts. Suppliers are indeed very important stakeholders in your business and with that both the brand and the supplier has to cooperate to take the game further.”
How can suppliers make or break a brand?
Your approach to suppliers needs to be part of your strategic plan since almost every company, whether product- or service-oriented, is dependent on suppliers. Many business owners seem to get this supplier issue backwards. They think that because they write the order, they're in the dominant position and can exploit it with unreasonable demands, including personal perks.
au bon pain- “Supplies are at the core of any restaurants business. If there is any compromise on the quality specifications or a delay in supplies, it can lead to significant impact on the quality of output to the customers. A single bad review on any digital media platform and word of mouth can tarnish the brand image, and this multiplies very fast. So the supplier has to adhere to quality specifications and delivery in a timely manner as agreed with the brand”, said Tandon.
WOW Momo- “Today, the entire manufacturing and production cycle can get disrupted if suppliers don’t give the products on time. You have to ensure the supplier’s performance in terms of their quality consistency and product service timings etc. with other brands from the industry. We are paying for the fresh materials and we expect the same from our suppliers. Quality assurance is our key concern when it comes to building our brand”, said Daryani.
Let's get this right--you need good and reliable suppliers!