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A request to USFoodservice Customers

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I am an executive chef and food service director for an assisted living center in the DFW area. The company I works for uses USFoodservices and for what ever reason they allow USFoods to control their menu. The order guide is locked and I have paid close attention to the fact that the rep is loading the order guide with the most expensive products he can. My goal is to get a copy of the complete USFoodService Master Order Guide unlocked so that I can check the prices, product by product. I serve senior citizens and it irks me that this company is ripping them off, If you are a USFoodservice customer, with an open unlocked order guide, would you be willing to email or fax a copy of your order guide to me? You can block out the customer service number whatever but I want to see what products my rep is hiding from us. Please get back to me on this. Thank you.

 

   Chef Amber

post #2 of 18

Walk carefully here chef. I have dealt with US in four states over 20 years and have never had or heard of a problem like you describe. Based on your message you work for a management company with a contract for the facility. There is a very good chance you are only being offered items your parent company has approved for purchase based upon their national contracts with providers. That is why you only have access to certain foods. This is a far more likely scenario than your US rep messing with the order guide.

post #3 of 18

Personally, what I would do is speak with reps from 1 or 2 other large purveyors (sysco) and get bids on the same items you currently buy from USFoodservice.  Then take it to management and show them the savings.  Until you can show management the bottom dollar, they won't be interested in what you have to say.  I have worked in a couple of places that had "contracts" with purveyors, and I usually try to end that practice as quickly as possible.  I usually have both USFoodservice and Sysco bid out items on a weekly basis and use whoever is less expensive, although I have never used one of these big companies for everything.  I almost never buy produce from these companies nor fresh meat or seafood.  These guys are for "groceries," not fresh stuff, IMO.

post #4 of 18

I've never worked in the States, and have never dealt with US foods, but I have worked for senior's homes and dealt with Sysco. 

 

Offhand I'd say, your situatiion  has the same stinky smell.

But before I commit to saying that, a few questions:

 

1) Are you employed by the care facilitiy, or by a mngmt company?

 

2) What percentage of entire goods: food, beverage, cleaning products, disposables, is UsF supplying, and what percentage is other suppliers--if any, supplying?

 

3) the most important question:  Is anyone on your tail complaining about food cost?

 

Remember, with the big boys, prices fluctuate from one kitchen to another in the same part of town.  And remember, mngmt companies love to cut deals with the big boys and get volume discounts.   Over here Sysco has/had a "service" where they would design a menu, have direct link to your computer, and "do all the ordering for you".

 

As old foodguy says, watch your tail!  If no one's bugging you about foodcost, just smile and nod.  Chefs come cheap for many mngmt companies.......

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

The CEO of the company personally emailed myself and the director of another branch asking us if she opened the order guide if we could help the company get the better values. My rep is a snake and I do not trust him to not hide the least expensive items as I know he is getting his pockets loaded with bonuses selling us the over priced products.

  I have been with this company less than two months and I have already found items on their list for 20 dollars less than he had on the order guide. I was almost $100.00 under budget last month because of my keeping on his butt about loading the guide the way he does.

post #6 of 18

ChefAmberR, If the CEO of your management company has given you the green light, then rip him up. Take Pete's advice and give your sysco rep the full a full list, without prices, and let the best company win. But as foodpump says, don't trust sysco too far either.  Keeping both vendors to play one off the other is just part of the game we all have to play.

post #7 of 18

I agree, I wouldn't necessarily trust Sysco over USFoods.  A lot depends on your rep.  But if you play them against each other you will get better pricing.  I have no doubt about that.

post #8 of 18

chef amber,

 most sales reps are  'snakes in the grass' as far as i'm concerned..you really have to be on top at all times, especially with credits, as they alone can add up to thousands of dollars by years end....and with the big boy food purveyors, they are all pretty much the same...sysco, usfoods, shamrock..as pete says, it depends largely on your rep....i finally got me a good one, one that actually seems to be interested in working for me and with my best interests in mind...one problem i see is that the big purveyors offer incentive packages including cruises, disneyland....whatever....AND it never ever fails that your sales rep will be on one of those vacations during your most busiest times.....can you get your sales rep to print out a CURRENT order guide? it will also somewhat serve as an inventory guide. i think that they all have an online product guide as well, so you can compare products, pack sizes, and prices(on some things). as oldfoodguy suggests, tread lightly...who signs your paycheck? i'm not suggesting that you do nothing, that you don't change things, you absolutely should... just perhaps think about a plan first...you know, take names now, take notes, kick arse later...as a side thought, you can also request a different sales rep...i have done that, when i thought my sales rep was just 'stuck on stupid' and it was obvious that we would never sing kumbaya together.

joey

playing against each other for better pricing, which i know a few chefs who order that way,and while may be a good thing, takes time from your day...phone tag,computer etc., ...so you might want to include that into your calculation 


Edited by durangojo - 12/26/10 at 10:59pm

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #9 of 18

duangojo is right that comparing price can be time consuming, but there are a few short cuts. US and Sysco both have online order guides that you can access on line. Get comfortable with them by spending time on thier sites. I have done this with a laptop while watching tv at home (let's face, when do any of really take time off?).

You should also try to get used to working in Exce spreadsheets, even buy an educational disc on them if you have to. Almost all the order guides are based on Excel and with some practice you will be able to pull there guides into a format that you can work with easily. I know this sounds like a lot to do a long way from the stove, but is as not a big as you may think.

Finally, don't price check everything every week. You can't catch it all and much is not worth the time. But what you shoud do is, get from Sysco your usage for all products for the last 6 months and the last year. They will provide you with the information broken down into categories by type, but also by volume used based upon both cases and dollars spent. This can be hugely illuminating when you see where you money goes in the course of a year. One example: In this fiscal year we will save $6000.00 by switching brands of frozen organge juice concentrate. Identical product, identical dispensors, huge saving.\

Once you have determined where your money is going, develop your list of 15 - 30 items that you need to check every week based on what you actually use a lot of. There should also be about another 20 you want to check monthly.

Demand this information from all your vendors. Once they see you gathering data and acting on it, all the reps will treat you as force to be reconned with and your CEO will see that you are making decisions based upon hard data and not personalities.

post #10 of 18

one monumental snag for me, which is so unbelievable in this day and age, is that i am a mac user and am not compatible with most online foodservice programs...go figure!

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #11 of 18

Joey, you poor, deluded mac fool!  :)  Just kidding!!!  Actually, I don't know about US Foods but most Sysco houses are now using eSysco which means it's online so you shouldn't have a problem whether you are mac based or PC based.  The downside to that is,sometimes if I am trying to place an order with Sysco during a "busy" time, the lag time and refresh rate (while paging through your guide) can be really long.

post #12 of 18

Easy solution , since you have to watch them all. Make a master sheet of everything you use. Hand it to each rep and tell him fill in price then compare. Tell them they can't change price till they notify you prior.

     Sounds like in your situation someone is on the take. Salesman would sell their mothers if you let them. Both U.S Foods and Sysco have 2 or 3 prices depending on your past history and credit reports. In many cases if an item sells for 5.00 and he sells it to you for 6.00 he and company spllt the overage.

   If I am not mistaken,U.S foods was in a law suite with the SEC for inventory and stock manipulation .Sysco salesmen are capped from what I have been told..Some places buy on contract, which I have found over years cost more.and hinders your price comps. with others and the going market, you could wind up paying more.. Sysco in some cases has rebate deal with your company, and manufacturers.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #13 of 18

 

I work in long term care as well and it sounds like you have 2 separate problems here. 

 

The first problem is that you have a lousy rep.  Call his boss and ask for a new one and it should not be a commissioned based street rep.  My vendor (GFS) provides me with a Medical Specialist that does nothing but take care of long term care facilities and hospitals.  She is salaried and knows the special products I need to take care of my specialized clients, and does not need to worry about selling my 50 cases of the most expensive chicken tender to make her numbers. 

 

The second problem is you probably have a PVA (Prime Vendor Agreement) with USF but do not know the details of the agreement.  Ask for a copy of it.  I'm sure somebody at your company set down with USF and agreed to by X amount of food for Y rebate at the end of the year.  If it seems like you are paying too much for one item, but you might be getting a rebate at the end of the quarter.  Example. I know that I am going to buy 50 cases of Tyson Chicken a year.  In my agreement with GFS I state that I am going to buy 50 cases of chicken a year and I promise to pay on time, and I will get a least 200 cases of total product a delivery.  In exchange GFS agrees to only charge me a set percentage above their cost of the item.  In my case 8% for all poultry items, and each quarter they will rebate 2% cash back for maintain my end of the agreement.  Additionally they also negotiate on my behalf with Tyson to give me an additional 3% back on the chicken since I promised to by 50 cases of the course of the year.  So while I know that I could buy different chicken product that is 4% cheaper on the invoice, I am actually getting a better price by using the rebates.  This method is pretty standard for any large buying operation.

post #14 of 18

just curious chef,

why is the order guide even locked to you? hmmmm....did the previous chef leave or was 'asked' to leave because of their food costs?  great advice given here and seems unanimous that you need a new rep...they are cousins of used car salesmen and dirt pimps(realtors)

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #15 of 18

Sounds like a situation I saw when I worked for a large hotel chain.

Corporate had a contract with USFoods, a contract that was beneficial for the company as a whole, and probably for hotels in larger areas.

Trying to point out that we could get better, less expensive items for competitors did no good.

So, corporate looks good but the little hotel is deeper in the hole than sister sites, and has a bigger job trying to get the numbers in line.

Not fun.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #16 of 18


GFS (Gordon Food Service) also has their ordering web-based as well.  She's saying that even the mac is having issues with online systems.  Perhaps it's time to try another browser such as IE, Firefox, or maybe even Chrome.  Safari may be the issue.  I work for a computer manufacturer and it is AMAZING to me how so many of our systems will work with IE, but not with Firefox.  It's quite sad actually since Firefox has lots of free "add ins" and most things for IE aren't free (or of the same quality). 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete View Post

Joey, you poor, deluded mac fool!  :)  Just kidding!!!  Actually, I don't know about US Foods but most Sysco houses are now using eSysco which means it's online so you shouldn't have a problem whether you are mac based or PC based.  The downside to that is,sometimes if I am trying to place an order with Sysco during a "busy" time, the lag time and refresh rate (while paging through your guide) can be really long.

post #17 of 18

I'd say your probably under a contract....a prime vendor agreement.....I'd be willing to bet the community is run by a management company that recieves mucho dinero at the end of each year or quarter if certain tagged items are purchased.  At times companies will lock into prices each year hoping to come out on the winning side....sadly it doesn't work all the time.....If no one upstairs has a problem with you running things the way you need to.....then go over your sales mans head to the regional manager.....remember, you don't work for USFS...they work with you......I've used them on and off for years and was satisfied more or less......some warehouses did not keep a broad selection of items as "in-stock", whereas SYSCO does, but USFS has a better online ordering program...just has more options and allows you more flexibility....doesn't look as pretty, but better for me.  When you start building spreadsheets.....you should probably use your inventory as a base......you should have that split into dry goods, dairy, meat, seafood, produce, etc.  You should be updating a little each week....unless certain items are under contract.......give your ordering guide to sysco and start adding things in an additional column.

My best advice, if this guy is pulling your chain.....call the regional rep and switch salesman....send him packing......doesn't sound like a big problem.....good luck....

post #18 of 18

Several things you can do...

1. Give Sysco one month's worth of invoices, prices cut off.  Tell them to match it all up.

2. Ask USF rep what contracts/agreements are existing and him them get copies.  Get the rep's DSM involved if need be (or higher).

3. Find out from your people (and from USF) if you are on any drop size incentive...a rebate (like 2%) on all monthly purchases where each drop is (example) $2K or more.

4. If there is an existing rebate to your corp office, that's where the higher price kicks in.  They are paying you back with your own money.

5. There are also rebates that do not involve drop size incentives.  I worked one place where Sysco did a blanket 4% off all monthly purchases.  They can all do it, they may say no but they can.

6. Tell your rep to source all rebates from manufacturers.  Tyson, Smuckers, Heinz and so on have $1 to $5 per case rebates, or a nickel per pound or more rebates on varying items.  If the rep is not sharing that with you he is lazy.  But sometimes to the healthcare accounts those rebates do not apply, just an fyi.

7. Are you buying a breaded fish or some premade heat and serve protein in QUANTITY?  If you do 40 cases a week, demand $1 or $2 invoice deviation per case and a $1 or $2 back paid quarterly.

 

This money is all out there and it's real. Hope it helps.

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