Maximizing Supply Chain Management in the Restaurant Industry

When it comes to running a restaurant there are challenges you will undoubtedly run into along the way.  And while many restaurants have returned to a post-COVID normalcy, the impending inflation has now introduced rising food costs, ultimately impacting the restaurant supply chain as food costs rise. Despite those impending difficulties faced, there are steps that restaurants can take to ensure they are positioned in the best possible way heading into 2024 by following these simple, yet effective, tips.

Allocate Resources Across Locations

Restaurant groups want to ensure that all locations across the chain are prepared to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. This means it is key to provide all open locations are distributed with the right supplies to run day-to-day operations. While making sure that all restaurants have the necessary supplies to operate, this will also keep the team aware of any impending shortages to allow that specific location to prepare accordingly.

Provide Approved Substitution Options

As the previous tip highlights the importance of supply distribution amongst all restaurants to best steer clear of shortages, that is still completely unavoidable in the industry. This is where having pre-approved substitution items can be available to keep guests satisfied during a visit. There will be times when shortages do happen or an item is unavailable, so finding alternative options can reduce the chances of running out of a single item to help keep the restaurant running smoothly and show customers that their experience is top of mind.

Keep Open Communication and Build Relationships

Like any industry, having strong relationships is of utmost importance and can go a long way. By building relationships with vendors, it can provide a leg up to your restaurant when it comes to order of importance with a specific supplier. If they need to decide who to service first, it very well could come down to a restaurant that a previous relationship has been built with compared to a new brand or a weaker relationship.

That strong partnership though is not just built through a long-term deal, but by having a strong line of communication. Keeping communication open and consistently ongoing will play a pivotal role in showing a vendor that your restaurant is easy to work with, along with helping your restaurant avoid any last-minute shortages on product. This open line of communication can help alleviate a point of stress for franchisees and the corporate team.

Building strong relationships through open communication can be done by sharing weekly reports and updates with both vendors and restaurant owners. These reports and updates can include items such as approved menu items, ingredients, supply substitutions, and any new product being introduced. These relationships show franchisees that corporate supports them, while also playing a role in helping to negotiate lower prices with vendors as those relationships continue to build.

Participate in Group Purchasing Organizations

While strong relationships with vendors can help potentially lower supply prices, participating in group purchasing organizations (GPOs) can assist in fulfilling gaps in supply. GPOs face a high volume, meaning that they get the priority from manufacturers to stay supplied. That ultimately provides a positive impact on customers in GPOs to stay adequately supplied with inventory to provide the best product to diners. Restaurants can rely on GPOs for backup as well to obtain any necessary inventory they are short on or missing.

Keys to a Successful Supply Chain

As the restaurant industry can be unknown at times and the supply chain can fluctuate in price and supplies, it can lead to stress for a restaurant owner. Despite the problems that can occur, an owner can stay ahead of those challenges by following these steps to help eliminate potential product shortages, which can in turn lead to disgruntled customers. So, while supply chain issues will always need to be considered, owners and companies can keep their system operating as smoothly as possible by simple taking inventory, building relationships and having clear communication with all parties involved.