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6 Simple Ways to Improve Your Restaurant’s Supply Chain

Farm to table — it’s a phrase many people recognize, but do they genuinely know how ingredients like a simple potato travel great distances to their plate? A supply chain manages the course of goods from their origin to the buyer, often packed in pallets and shipped across the country. However, businesses in the restaurant industry rely on efficient supply chains to provide fresh food to their customers.

One disruption could throw off an entire menu. Take control of your supply of everything from spices to dish soap and serve up smiles for hungry customers with these six simple ways to improve your restaurant’s supply chain.

1. Seek Out Farm-Fresh Food

Restaurant owners know how crucial quality ingredients are to the taste and appearance of their dishes. Frozen fruits and vegetables are cheap and may be the best option for small diners, but if you can spring for it, high-quality, fresh ingredients can drastically improve your menu.

Therefore, owners must be aware of the origins of the food arriving on the supply chain. Outbreaks of diseases like E. coli spread through everyday ingredients like romaine lettuce, but the ability to chart where an outbreak began can prevent other businesses from receiving contaminated goods.

Customers will be happier with quality ingredients as well. Floppy, shriveled tomatoes do not present as good an image as crisp, round ones. Overall, 68% of diners say food quality is their first concern when eating out. Researching where food originates and how it travels can make all the difference in your customer’s dining experience.

2. Train Truck Drivers for Everything

Truck drivers do not get as much credit as they should for their roles. They carry goods to people and businesses in record times while working long hours in unwieldy vehicles down unfamiliar routes. With proper and consistent training, these highway heroes can improve delivery efficiency to needy restauranteurs.

Ensure your supply chain contacts provide proper navigation, inspections and tools for driving in rough conditions. Special tires for snow and ice — and a pack of medical supplies — promise a happy and well-cared-for driver that can put forth their best trucking. 

Safety is a top priority for truckers as they traverse the country with comparatively small cars. Unfortunately, the cars were at fault in 81% of fatal accidents between them and trucks. The best supply chains value and train their truck drivers — specifically on best practices around smaller vehicles on the highway.

3. Utilize Supply Chain Tracking Software

Using state-of-the-art software, restaurant owners can track shipments and payments of their orders. On one platform, food industry professionals can see forecasts for supply and demand, cancel or edit orders, restock low inventory immediately and pay digitally. Responding to the restaurant’s needs as quickly as possible verifies the consistency of ingredients across long periods.

Furthermore, inventory ordering software could automatically reorder low-inventory items like dish soap, tomatoes or silverware. No longer will human error result in an overabundance of one ingredient or empty shelves lining the back rooms.

On the note of reducing waste, smart sensors and tech like radio-frequency identification allow managers to track individual pallets of goods or the temperature inside a crate. Ensuring ingredients are on the right track and are insulated for maximum freshness is a fantastic innovation for restaurants and their supply chains.

4. Use Data to Order Wisely 

With this software, restaurant owners can order with a better context of their needs. Point-of-service computers track orders and can inform managers how many dishes they serve in one night. Maybe the lemon chicken sells like hotcakes, but the lasagna is relatively unpopular. With this data, restaurants can order more lemon chicken ingredients and fewer lasagna noodles so there is no overabundance of expiring foods.

What’s more, if you offer any type of promotions or “all you can eat” deals, make sure you are well stocked for a surprise rush or an extra-hungry customer. Running dry of shrimp during a shrimp promotion week would not fare well with customers and dampens the excitement for your dishes. Analyze your data and use software to inform your purchases and potential demand.

5. Try Menu Engineering

Menu engineering is all about maximizing profit. How do ingredients, menu design, pricing and inventory all flow together to create an experience for a diner? When reevaluating your menu and ingredients, think about cross-over items to reuse. For example, how can chefs use asparagus in more than one dish? Giving them the freedom to be creative with menu items can revitalize a restaurant’s atmosphere.

Also, try not to introduce ingredients that need specialized preparation or tools. Keeping it simple is the cheapest and most efficient option for delivery. Not ordering obscure goods will place less strain and transportation time on the supply chain.

6. Adapt to Fluctuations

Remember to always be flexible with your menu. As you saw with the COVID-19 pandemic, the shutdown disrupted supply chains and many restaurants could not receive their requested ingredients for months. This is an extreme case, but having backup plans or ideas for simpler meals with fewer ingredients is always helpful to keep in the back of your mind.

Knowing how to adapt to price fluctuations, portion sizes and slow delivery times is all part of the job. However, being able to handle these tasks with patience and grace assists in a smooth transition.

Better Delivery, Better Meals

Improving your restaurant’s supply chain can be as simple as downloading software or chatting with suppliers and managers. At the end of the day, everyone wants smooth travel times and safely delivered goods, so having a plan for adaption and forecasting demand is always a great way to enter these situations. Promise a place of delectable meals and fresh ingredients by improving your supply chain today.

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