How and Why You Should Invest in a Good Relationship With Your Food Suppliers


Food suppliers


Food suppliers are fundamental to your business for some obvious reasons, and some less so.

Clearly, without the ingredients they provide, you’d have nothing to serve your customers. But an excellent food supplier can (and should) be a lot more than just a delivery service.

Here, we will:

– Explore the benefits of finding the right suppliers and then building a solid relationship with them.

– Give you some tips for finding a good supplier if you are just starting out or looking to change.

– Tell you how to make the most of your relationship with your restaurant, cafe or hotel food supplier.

– Help you on your way to building a positive connection.

By the end of the article, you will have a better understanding of just how important food suppliers are to success and how to use this information to your advantage.

How and why you should invest in a good relationship with your food suppliers:


1. Why you should think of a food supplier as more than a delivery service
2. How to find the right suppliers for your cafe, restaurant, or bar
3. Why you need to foster a good relationship with your suppliers
4. How to build and maintain a fruitful relationship with your suppliers
5. Worth the investment in time and effort


1. Why you should think of a food supplier as more than a delivery service


Having a dependable supplier or suppliers for all of your ingredients and drinks is critical.

You need to be confident you are going to have a steady supply of ingredients coming in so that you can operate your full menu and have happy customers.

It is absolutely crucial that you choose suppliers that are trustworthy and absolutely reliable, of course.

However, a good food supplier can offer more than this.

Firstly, they are likely to be highly knowledgeable in their areas of specialization. They can provide useful information about the products that might be suited to your menu, particularly if you are less confident yourself.


Delivery service


For example, if you are looking to put plant-based proteins on your menu but have little experience in using them, then your supplier should be able to help you out with some advice.

Years of experience working in the food industry with all types of outlets means that food distributors usually have lots of wisdom to tap into.

They’ll have excellent insights into trends in the local area and will be up to speed in knowing who is doing what.

So, whether you want advice on the little things (like potential new menu items) or the big things (like new business opportunities), they may well have some interesting knowledge or opinions worth listening to.

Your chosen food wholesaler can definitely bring more to the table than just ingredients.


2. How to find the right suppliers for your cafe, restaurant, or bar


Finding the right food and beverage suppliers for your business isn’t an easy or overnight task.

It’s a complex task when you are trying to balance efficiency and profitability and deciding whether or not to go for a single distributor or several.


How to find suppliers for food


It definitely takes some research and, possibly, some trial and error. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Create a long list of all the food distribution companies who seem to deliver the ingredients you need in your local area.
  2. Trawl their catalogs and websites for more details. Can they deliver the right ingredients at the right price point? Use this information to create your shortlist.
  3. Now put each business on the shortlist to the test. Start by reading reviews to get an idea of their reputation. Order some sample products. Make notes not just on the quality of the product but also on ease of ordering and delivery availability.
  4. Test out their customer service. Find a reason to call them with a question. How keen to help you out are they? Are they interested in your business?
  5. Finally, assess each restaurant and hotel food supplier for value for money. Remember to consider not just the quality of the product, but also paying slightly more for superior service.

These steps should lead you to a supplier or group of suppliers you are more than happy with.


How to find food suppliers


Don’t forget that marketplaces change, so it is wise to reassess regularly to check that you are still using the best option.

That said, there are many benefits that come from committing to a longstanding business relationship with a food supplier. More on that next.


3. Why you need to foster a good relationship with your suppliers


When you choose a food distributor, you are entering into what will hopefully be a long and fruitful relationship.

Your food suppliers can be very much your allies. With a solid relationship based on mutual trust, they can help reduce costs, help you out with promotions, tap you into the latest food industry trends, and so much more.

Secondly, having a solid relationship means that when things get rocky, you have someone to rely on.


Food supplier relationship management


Nothing has demonstrated this more so than the coronavirus pandemic. You need really reliable, trustworthy businesses working with you to help mitigate risks to your supply chain.

Worrying less about your supply chain means you can spend more time growing your business and focusing on your customers. Ultimately, that’s going to translate into greater profits.


4. How to build and maintain a fruitful relationship with your suppliers


As discussed already, a friendly yet professional alliance with your suppliers can make a world of difference. Here’s how to get the very best out of your working relationship:


1.    Set your expectations from day one


Absolutely all good relationships, business and personal, require excellent communication to thrive.

Reduce the opportunities for misunderstanding by making your expectations crystal clear from your very first order.

The more a supplier knows and understands about your business, the more they can help you.



All businesses will have varying expectations of their food suppliers based on many elements, including their own methods and internal processes.

Your standards for logistics, food safety and quality control will not be the same as others. So, be clear from the beginning on what you expect from your orders and what will be unacceptable.

Don’t worry about being a little challenging at times. A good supplier will be used to meeting high expectations and will gladly do all they can to provide the very best, tailored service for your business.


2.    Keep the lines of communication open


While it is crucial to lay out your expectations initially, don’t stop there.

Regular feedback is important, both positive and negative. If you are really pleased with a new line of products and would like to see more like it, then let them know.

On the flip side, if you are not satisfied with a product or feel like standards are slipping in terms of service, then tell them.

A good food supply company should have open channels for customer feedback and rigorous complaints protocols.


Supplier communication


Hopefully, this is something you have checked before deciding to use them regularly.

The protocols in place should make it easy for you to get in contact and feedback your views. Be sure to go through the proper and appropriate channels to get the best customer service.

Occasionally, issues can’t be resolved at the first attempt. In this case, it might be a good idea to reach out to more senior levels in the company.

If this doesn’t solve the problem in a mutually agreeable way, then it may be time to move on.


3.    Foster mutual respect and be a good customer


While you may occasionally put in challenging orders or make out-of-the-ordinary requests, it is important to remember that your food supplier is busy serving many other customers.

Being considerate and reasonable is vital, and courtesy must run in both directions even when you are not completely satisfied.

If you are patient when they are in a tight spot, you will build a stronger relationship that will benefit you both.

It is important that you don’t turn your back on any agreements, either.


Respect food suppliers


For instance, perhaps you’ve asked your food supplier to source something more unusual, or a larger volume of a product than you’d normally take.

It’s imperative that you don’t change your mind last minute and leave them with stock that will be difficult to clear.

Be respectful and take the product regardless. This will go a long way in building your reputation as a trustworthy and conscientious business.

Plus, don’t forget that paying on time is a basic courtesy.


4.    Be honest and upfront


If your business is close to making significant changes, then keep your suppliers in the loop.

This includes plans to expand your operations or to downsize. Anything that will affect the volume or type of transactions you make with your suppliers is must-know information for them.


Food suppliers honesty


Keep them updated so that they can provide you with the best possible service during periods of change and beyond.

Honesty is important because nobody wants to be blindsided by major changes. However, updating your suppliers with your business news may help you too since their insider knowledge and experience means they may well have some helpful advice.


5.    Make sure you are kept up to date


It’s vital you stay up to date with what’s happening in your supplier’s business as well.

Whether it’s news of stock discontinuation or supply issues, or new product lines being added, you need to know. All these issues and more can have a big impact on your business.


Time management

The easiest way to be kept informed is usually to sign up for email updates. But be sure to chat with personnel from your supply company, too.


5. Worth the investment in time and effort

Building good relationships with suppliers takes time and effort.

However, this investment will reap rewards. An efficient, friendly relationship will free your mind to focus on making the best of your business opportunity.

About Jad Asaad

Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.