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The Ultimate Guide to Finding a Restaurant Food Supplier

A hard truth about owning a restaurant is that it can take a couple of years to start making money. With the triangle of expenses looming large—labor, food, overhead—there is an industry imperative to find a way to grow with purpose.

How do restaurants achieve that see-saw balance between quality ingredients and profitability? By developing a long-term partnership with a restaurant food supplier that offers quality, consistency, and partnership. Let’s dig into the specifics. 

What Are Restaurant Food Suppliers?

In the most basic sense, restaurant food suppliers are the vendors—from large wholesale purveyors to local farms—who sell products directly to restaurants. The common denominator across all suppliers is allowing restaurants to purchase those products at prices that increase their profit margins. The core four considerations when choosing a supplier are cost, delivery schedule, minimum order requirements, and product quality.

Benefits of Working with Independently-Owned Food Suppliers

While it’s true that full-line suppliers have “everything,” many offer limited delivery options and have a large number of fulfillment orders. (Translation: Not a ton of focus on your specific account.) Working with independent, local suppliers cracks open some new doors, from the products themselves to the level of service provided. 

  • Regular deliveries and minimums: Have a smaller restaurant in a remote location? Working with a full-line supplier may mean deliveries only once a week, which can pose storage challenges if you’re limited on space. An independently-owned food supplier can work with you on timing and costs.
  • Local is lucrative:  Investment in local products can have major payoffs. Studies have shown that customers are willing to pay 12% to 20% more for items that are sourced locally, especially when the mileage is listed on the menu.
  • Personalized attention: Sales reps with independent vendors are likely to have more time to devote to your account, which includes making seasonal recommendations and reporting on trends that could positively impact your operation. 
  • Produce freshness: The less time produce has to travel, the more time it spends ripening on the plant. That means delivery at peak freshness when working with a local supplier.
  • Ability to customize: If you’re looking for specialty ingredients not local to your area, you may need to work with a vendor who can import these products.  

What to Expect with Woolco Foods

As a specialty food distributor, Woolco is fully stocked with over 10,000 brand name, high-quality items—ones that we trust and our clients love. Thirty years in business means we’ve seen this industry from many different angles, and are tuned into what sells, what’s trending, and what’s next. 

Our ordering and delivery model is also designed to accommodate clients. Woolco accepts orders up until 10 p.m, EST. If we make a mistake with a delivery (which is rare!), it’s fixed within 24 hours. Though our delivery minimums vary area to area, they are all lower than the industry average. 

You can learn more about our products, deliveries, and rush orders here.

Maintaining a Positive Relationship With Woolco Foods

Working with a food supplier is not a one-way exchange. The partnership between restaurant and vendor has to be cared for to be long-term. Woolco has a few suggestions for restaurant owners that can help foster that connection. Keep in mind that even the obvious is worth repeating. 

  • Get to know your delivery drivers. When possible, have the same person receive deliveries every day to help build that relationship. A crucial building block. 
  • Meet order deadlines and order minimums. Things happen and exceptions can be made, but doing this shows respect for the same pressures, deadlines, and labor costs that your vendor has.
  • If you love working with your sales rep or your driver, let us know! We want to maintain those connections and recognize great work on our side. 
  • The best way to maintain a good relationship with your vendors is to pay on time or early when you can.

Working with Woolco foods comes with decades of experience in the food industry—we have products that meet our exacting standards, and we have them in stock. Reach out to start a conversation with us. Call 201-716-2700, and speak with a Woolco Foods rep, today!