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What Restaurant Owners Should Know About the Food Supply Chain

Restaurants work hard every day to connect happy customers with quality food. Like many grocery store supplies, restaurant supplies are grown all over the world and then shipped, stored and checked for quality before they hit the plate at your favorite local diner. 

The food supply chain encompasses this entire process. It describes what it takes for a restaurant to find consistent, high-quality food at an affordable cost. By streamlining their supply chain, restaurants can increase their bottom line and invest in a high-quality customer experience. Here are six things restaurant owners should know about the food supply chain. 

Every Dollar Counts

Like every other business, a restaurant runs on numbers. Every dollar saved is a dollar owners don’t have to earn through sales to make a profit. Restaurant owners can significantly increase their store’s success by paying close attention to every dollar they’re spending and making thoughtful tweaks to their food supply chain

Sometimes, investing in a more expensive product actually saves money in the long run. For example, higher quality products can be served in smaller portions and are less likely to spoil before use. Paying a few more dollars per case for these foods could improve a restaurant’s bottom line and their customers’ experience. 

Local Is Low-Risk

Most restaurants operate as part of an expanding global supply chain. Their avocados and bananas come from South America, fruits and vegetables ship from China and cocoa is ordered from Africa. These items must be grown, stored, shipped and checked for quality along the way. At any point, disruptions can hold up the process or prevent these items from ever reaching restaurants in the U.S.

Security is one reason that restaurant owners are turning to local food suppliers. When food comes from a local farmer, the trip from farm to fork is shorter. There’s less opportunity for supply chain bottlenecks and food shortages. Local food is seasonal and often less expensive than ordering from international suppliers. It’s also much fresher and stimulates the local economy.

Outsourcing Reduces Cost

While local food can strengthen a restaurant’s supply chain, many restaurants can also benefit from outsourcing specialized labor. Although restaurant owners can do everything themselves, that’s not the most efficient solution. Experts in IT, finance and marketing can save restaurants time while increasing their revenue. 

Another example is outsourcing warehouse storage. Outsourcing is especially important if your store needs flexible storage each month and you can’t yet afford to invest in the equipment, staff and training it takes to run a reputable warehouse. Although it may seem financially wise to do everything yourself, investing in expert help can actually save you money down the road. 

Tech Is Your Friend

Technology is another invaluable investment. Keeping track of inventory and the details of your supply chain is a full-time job all on its own. Restaurant owners who are ready to invest in their stores should definitely consider hiring a full-time supply chain manager. However, smaller businesses can also benefit from the help of technology. 

There are several applications designed to help restaurants keep track of their shipping, inventory and warehouse management. Most customers never consider these factors, but they’re crucial to running a profitable and ethical business. Find a service that fits your needs and learn how to use it. This tech will save you invaluable amounts of time and help you track your restaurant’s growth.

Diversity Is Insurance

No restaurant owner wants to spend time vetting different companies and coming up with multiple supply chain solutions. However, diversifying your food supply chain is an extremely valuable investment of your time. It’s wise to have a mix of local, regional and international food sources that you can fall back on if a certain supplier gets backed up. 

Diversification is one way to ensure your restaurant keeps its promise to customers. By planning ahead, you can prepare customers for changes and continue to meet their needs. If a product gets stuck in South America, you’ll already have a solution for how you’re going to fill that gap and keep offering services to customers. Staying a step ahead of the supply chain can save you many headaches later. 

Growth Is a Balance

Restaurants walk a fine line of delivering high-quality products to customers while also trying to turn a profit. Because the goods they sell are perishable, they have a very small window to get the most from their investment. Demand changes quickly and sales depend on many factors restaurants can’t control, like the weather. 

Although the cost of goods matters, restaurants also have to consider the quality and productivity of their services. That’s why fine-tuning their food supply chain matters so much – every improvement targets potential issues and helps restaurants run like a well-oiled machine. Every step forward allows you to offer better services with more assurance of a good return. 

Managing Your Food Supply Chain

Not much impacts the success of restaurants more than their food supply chain. For restaurant owners, learning to effectively manage this supply is an invaluable investment in the future of their business. These six tips can help you improve your system, reduce risk and honor the promises you’ve made to your customers. 

When assessing your food supply chain, remember that every dollar counts. Local sources can be more reliable than international suppliers and outsourcing labor can reduce operational costs. Technology can help you manage the back end of your business effectively. Refining your food supply chain is an ongoing process that will benefit you and your customers for years to come. 

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