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Does this sound like trouble brewing?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I currently work in a new upscale restaurant that is owned by a corporation.
the corp. has never been in or owned a restaurant. Here's my problem, they have said they believe in and enjoy everything i am cooking, but now that buisness is slow and they dont want to market the restaurant, i now have to limit all my buying from US foods.
Currently i am using a meat proveyor, sysco for dry foods, and a produce proveyor, among other local producers. we buy quality products from sources ive been using for years.
I feel dropping to all from us foods will jepordize the quality coming from the kitchen.
Any ideas, does this sound like the end is near? They say they trust my skills, but continue to blow off any ideas i may have and with the use US foods or else so they can get a better discount for their lower end restaurants, it just seems like a bad idea. any ideas would help thanks,

Chef Joseph A. Hauer
Chef de Cuisine
post #2 of 10
There are 3 things you look for from a vendor:
Price, Quality and Reliability.
If you can show that by keeping US Foods in the mix you can hit all 3, whereas dropping them you will sacrifice one or more, you should be making a compelling argument.
Unfortunately, corporations usually only look at the first thing.
They don't understand that when you buy from vendor B at a reduced cost, but sacrifice quality, or don't receive the product at all, you risk making your customers unhappy.
This unhappiness is spread in the most efficient of advertising methods: word of mouth.
It is also the slowest form to turn back around to a positive.
I always tell my bosses "Free is a great price, but if I didn't get the product, did I really benefit from that price?".

If they will listen to you, then no problem.
If they won't then yes, this could be trouble.

I worked for a big hotel chain, and they had the same mandate.
It was a great savings for the company as a whole, and for some of their hotels, especially in the larger cities.
Here in the boonies however I was constantly overpaying for product I could have received from other sources, making my numbers look worse than needed.
So, it seemed the company was willing to sacrifice my sanity and blood pressure for the benefit of other locations.
That's something you can't fight.
And why I am no longer there.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your input,

I just figured if my pricing is in line, which it is, and i look for any deals i can get there shouldnt be a problem, right? lol

It's just that constant battle with big corporate america that is frustrating.
post #4 of 10
Hey Joe, I would watch out on how much info you give on any site, such as your full name, and company, and companies you are. buying from. It can come back to bit you from someone you may not want to read this post.

Anyway, The corp is looking at the bottom line. They will be able to lower the cost if they give the whole pie, and not just a piece of the pie. I do the samething with my company, if I give everyone a small piece of the business, I have no buying power. Right now I deal with a national beverage company, If I deal with two companies I get higher costs and that filters to higher prices to my customer. I deal with one company and I have the lowest cost too me than anyone in my area. I am able to offer my client lower prices. The only thing a Corp see's is the bottom line, its your problem to make it work. I was told by many Corp in my day, make it work, lower costs or we will find some one who can..........Good Luck ..............Bill
post #5 of 10
Chef Bill,

This can indeed work in the manner in which you describe, but it can also be beneficial to have competing vendors to keep each other in check.
I know that vendor A has 3 prices for everything, and if I don't keep a competing vendor on, they will always give me the higher price.
It's more work for me, to constantly be checking prices, but the end result is what corporate wants, lower costs.
Of course, like I said, your way can and does work in some instances, soda pricing being a great example.

Also, as I mentioned in my hotel story, corporates bottom line and your locations bottom line can be two completely different things.
Corporate receives a rebate on purchases, lowering their bottom line, but your location doesn't see a portion of this rebate.
It can be frustrating to be told to lower costs, to know how to lower them, but be mandated not to use those vendors to accomplish this.
If corporate says to buy from vendor A, and they have set pricing, it makes the task of lowering costs more difficult.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #6 of 10
The mandate aside, for a moment, there's always a problem with a corporation adds one division that doesn't mesh with their other businesses. It's usually an attempt to diversify. But more often than not, it doesn't work, and they have to divest that division.

I went through that myself, once, and have avoided such entaglements ever since.

It wouldn't surprise me to find that the mandate they gave you was a cost-cutting technique to make the bottom line look better when they put the restaurant on the block. They can also use the "we only use American" slogan as a positive marketing tool in that regard.

So, in a word, be wary.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #7 of 10
I've had a pretty positive experience with US Foods, but the idea of being locked into one vendor sounds pretty sketchy to me. I would try to explain to someone from corporate that no one company can provide the best quality for all products, and that if you are forced to rely on US Foods exclusively and their quality slips (which I think is a real possibility when it comes to produce and meat), whatever money you saved with the discount from US might be lost by compromising the quality of the food. This is a very real concern with upscale dining.

Personally, while we order most of our frozen and dry from Sysco, we like to stick to a specialized vendor for produce and always shop around when it comes to meat. I've seen situations where one vendor gets exclusivity and they start to take advantage of the situation; if there's no competition, how much are you going to worry about competitively pricing your goods or giving you the best quality goods. We used to get food which had been returned by other restaurants because the sales rep felt like we had to take whatever he gave us...which is why we no longer order exclusively from them.
post #8 of 10
Hey Jim, Your right, I have seen this in the past where the top 50 items that you always buy are the items that go up in price. The ones you never buy are the bargins. Go Figure. .......Take care.............Bill
post #9 of 10
Jim has nailed it pretty much dead on: If you only deal with one company you are at their mercy. A good salesman always looks in the loading bay, garbage bins and in the kitchen before confirming prices with the purchaser/Chef--if he only sees one brand or two brands, he sees dollar signs. Pricing will always be based on supply and demand.

True if you deal in large volumes you can negotiate and get consistant prices, but the price is based on quantity, and is usually an average of price throughout the year, say 16/18 e/e bacon--the price will fluctuate throughout the year,sometimes your price is great, and sometimes your locked into a lousy price when you could get it 20% cheaper from another vendor. In many cases there may be penalities for not hitting the negotiated quantities.

If the powers that be insist on only using one supplier, then you have very few options left to ensure quality goods. The one weapon you do have in your arsenal is the menu--change it like your socks and underwear. In this way your purveyor can't get too comfortable with your ordering habits and you have some, albiet limited control, with the purveyor.

Best of luck
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #10 of 10
I always fight the one supplier deal for reasons already mentioned. They come in and say if you go with them exclusively, they'll save you X%. But they won't give you a straight answer when you ask them X% of what? So you sign, and first thing you know they're charging you $40 for a case of house brand ketchup. You have to watch everything all the time. My salesmen caught on to me and won't come in the building at the same time because they know I'll get them in a bidding war on things I know they both carry that are the same. Not as much fun as it used to be. The advantage from a corporate point of view is usually in the accounting office. Easier to write one check than three. The other thing they do is slide in things that you normally buy that you didn't order. First thing you know you've got five cases of to-go containers that you never ordered. I thought the d**n things were breeding for awhile. Everybody's trying to make a buck however they can, but geez, it drives me nuts.
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