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Help! My foodservice distributor's prices keep creeping up


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8 replies to this topic

#1 Gus.Fring

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 02:43 PM

I have this nagging feeling that I'm not getting fair prices from my restaurant suppliers. Is there any easy way to compare prices on the same items across different distributors?


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#2 DiggingDogFarm

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 02:47 PM

A few phone calls or emails.


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#3 Gus.Fring

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 02:56 PM

The thing is, I can't find an easy way to compare the exact items - the same products seem to be named different things across distributors, or have different pack sizes, configurations, etc. etc. so that the price for the same case of food can vary pretty dramatically. Has anyone created a way to systematically track their purchases to "keep the supplier honest"?



#4 judiu

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 05:11 PM

I tnink an excel spread sheet would do what you want, but you'd have to break it down in ounces if canned or frozen stuff, maybe pounds if we're talking fresh meat or fish, or kilos and grams if you're not in the US. Got a bookkeeper? Get him/her to make one up and do the entries, or show you how. HTH!
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#5 Lisa Shock

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 09:16 PM

We used to have our rep from each major distributor fax us a price sheet weekly on our top 15 items. We had the rep come over and bring samples and info on each item before making the lists up -obviously there were sku and name differences on each list but they were as equivalent as we could get. Dunno if anyone will still do that.



#6 sculptor

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 04:20 PM

If I might ask, what city are you in?

 



#7 Gus.Fring

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 08:25 AM

Thanks, everyone - our catering business is in Minneapolis, so we have access to Restaurant Depot, Sysco, PFG, & US Foods.

 

I continue to be surprised by how unresponsive the big guys are to IROs like me. I have to call and call. Just seems like they'd want me to place online orders so that they didn't have to send a person 'round. Thing is, when I look at prices in their online portals, there's no way to know if they are fair - and they change all the time.


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#8 Edward J

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 07:18 PM

Hi Gus,

 

I've seen your post and request, but haven't had time to answer properly until now.

 

If you want--but only if you want to, here's how to "play" with the big boys:

 

Find about 8 or 9 items that you do a lot of volume on, figure out your consumption per, say 6 mths or per year, then call up one of the boys, give them your consumption rates and what you're willing to pay for those items. You're not asking them for a price now, you are telling them to match or better another price.  Big difference.

 

But as one small indie operator to another, I ask, "Why?"  Why do you want to play with the big boys?  After well over thirty  years in this business, and almost half of that time running my own business, I have made this one observation regarding the big boy broadliners:

 

-Giants play best with other giants.

 

That's not to say we all can't get along, but at the end of the day, it's the little guy who goes home feeling like he got the dirty end of the stick.

 

My business is based on the "apples and oranges" model:  If Johnny across the street is selling apples, then the thing for me to do is to sell oranges.  In other words, BE UNIQUE.  By being unique, your customers can not compare your prices to Johnny's.  Not only that, they will respect you for being unique.

 

Chains operate on the reverse model of the above:  Consistancy.  That is, the customer in St. Louis can have the exact same dining experience as the customer in Minot, N.D.  The chains and the big-boy broadliners go together like peanut butter and jelly, like tomatoes and basil.  Giants playing with other giants.  Head office negotiates prices for "thier" ingredients and the big boys deliver.  Consistancy, yes, but it is all based on high volume.  Everybody's happy.  But the operator in Minot has to pay what head office negotiated for romaine lettuce or strawberries in January because that's what the Chain franchise contract stipulates.  The Indie operator takes Caesar off the menu when prices for romaine are sky-high.

 

Mineapolis/St. Paul is a large city. Where do all the grocery stores get their merchandise?  The ethnic delis and Bodegas, where do they get their merchandise?  And the bakeries?  Where do they get flour, dairy, eggs,and other supplies from?  It's not the broadliners.

 

Giants play best with other giants, and you and I are not giants.  I get my supplies from many sources--Costco, yes, but bakery suppliers, indie distributers, neighborhood groceries, indie butchers, indie poultry suppliers, indie seafood.....  When I ask for pricing, I get it, and very rarely do I get attitude.  Small guys play best with small guys.....


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#9 catdaddy

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Posted 26 December 2013 - 09:34 PM

Hi Gus,

 

I've seen your post and request, but haven't had time to answer properly until now.

 

If you want--but only if you want to, here's how to "play" with the big boys:

 

Find about 8 or 9 items that you do a lot of volume on, figure out your consumption per, say 6 mths or per year, then call up one of the boys, give them your consumption rates and what you're willing to pay for those items. You're not asking them for a price now, you are telling them to match or better another price.  Big difference.

 

But as one small indie operator to another, I ask, "Why?"  Why do you want to play with the big boys?  After well over thirty  years in this business, and almost half of that time running my own business, I have made this one observation regarding the big boy broadliners:

 

-Giants play best with other giants.

 

That's not to say we all can't get along, but at the end of the day, it's the little guy who goes home feeling like he got the dirty end of the stick.

 

My business is based on the "apples and oranges" model:  If Johnny across the street is selling apples, then the thing for me to do is to sell oranges.  In other words, BE UNIQUE.  By being unique, your customers can not compare your prices to Johnny's.  Not only that, they will respect you for being unique.

 

Chains operate on the reverse model of the above:  Consistancy.  That is, the customer in St. Louis can have the exact same dining experience as the customer in Minot, N.D.  The chains and the big-boy broadliners go together like peanut butter and jelly, like tomatoes and basil.  Giants playing with other giants.  Head office negotiates prices for "thier" ingredients and the big boys deliver.  Consistancy, yes, but it is all based on high volume.  Everybody's happy.  But the operator in Minot has to pay what head office negotiated for romaine lettuce or strawberries in January because that's what the Chain franchise contract stipulates.  The Indie operator takes Caesar off the menu when prices for romaine are sky-high.

 

Mineapolis/St. Paul is a large city. Where do all the grocery stores get their merchandise?  The ethnic delis and Bodegas, where do they get their merchandise?  And the bakeries?  Where do they get flour, dairy, eggs,and other supplies from?  It's not the broadliners.

 

Giants play best with other giants, and you and I are not giants.  I get my supplies from many sources--Costco, yes, but bakery suppliers, indie distributers, neighborhood groceries, indie butchers, indie poultry suppliers, indie seafood.....  When I ask for pricing, I get it, and very rarely do I get attitude.  Small guys play best with small guys.....

This is excellent advice. Unless you are doing huge sales numbers stick with the smaller suppliers.....they are hustling as hard as you to be successful and would love to have your business.