Food and Beverage - Purchasing
Healthy Purchasing Practices
The prime goal of running a restaurant from a business perspective is to create menu items that lead to profitablity.
This means identifying the grade, the quality and the size of product that best fits the menu item. In other words you are trying to match the food quality and cost to the menu pricing.
Once this has been achieved, and in some cases it does take some experimenting with, Product Specifications can be developed. Take the time to experiment with the most economical cut to suit each dish so that the flavour taste and texture are not compromised.
I will site an example here; our local fish monger has just started supplying fresh prawn meat @$22.00 a kilo, against $30.00 a Kilo for whole fresh prawns. Most of his Restaurant customers have moved to the prawn meat for any dishes that have a sauce, and use only the whole prawn for decoration.
The next step is to engage in some competitive bidding, with a detailed Product specification sheet.
I believe that a number of Restaurateurs are under the misconception that they hold no power in negotiating on their product range, however, contractors will always negotiate on cash, they will negotiate on most Prime Food Products and they will always negotiate on volume. But if you don’t ask then you won’t get.
Specification Sheets: The whole concept with a specification sheet is to outline YOUR requirements from the Vendor. Spec Sheets allows you to compare apples to apples when comparing Products across a number of vendors.
Normally there are three ways of purchasing
- Competitive bidding
- Prime Vendor
- Collective Bargaining
In my experience most chefs (as opposed to most restaurateurs) will compete on the short term between two main suppliers, here in Qld this will be either QFFS or Bidvest. Most chefs realize that there are turns and roundabouts in the purchasing game and they compete against monthly specials to lower their Food Cost.
I believe that this is fairly short-sighted, and believe that a more organized and disciplined approach would be to examine the purchasing history of the major Food Cost items and then negotiate for a six month period.
The electronic revolution has promoted the Prime Vendors’ position in the purchasing process by setting up internet ordering systems that corale many of the purchasing functions and processes.
The benefits are that there is less time involved in performing the purchasing Function
you will normally get better service and response from the sales team there is less paper work and obviously you can place orders on line.
However the Restaurateur should still endeavour to lock in prices for a six month term on the volume and specials that are available.
The core of a good menu is the versatility of the product mix, and in being able to utilize 100% (or as close to it as possible) of the product being purchased.
Pre prepared food and portioned food can sometimes provide a better contribution to the bottom line than boxed or bulk items. Apart from price you need to consider
- Quality and Consistency
- Service responsiveness
- Delivery Times and frequency
- Shelf life
- Inventory Controls
- Labour and personnel
- Hidden costs such as packaging