Standards of quality must be more than just words. Product guarantees are important. After determining product specifications, you must inform your vendors of your expectations of quality and then hold them to delivering at or above those standards. During negotiation, your standards should not be negotiable. Instead, the discussion should be about what the vendor must do if the agreed-upon standards are not met.
Restaurant Consultant, Restaurant Expert Witness, and CEO, Howard Cannon, says, “Common sense says, if you are delivered 60 dozen eggs and half of them are broken, the vendor needs to replace them. But with some vendors, once you sign off on the invoice and the product is left in your care, it is not their problem anymore. Other vendors care about how their own products are perceived and do not want restaurants serving up stale or bad products because of them.”
Product specifications are related to size, grades, cuts, yields, age, color, and so on. This area is where you and your chef determine in advance what is and isn’t acceptable in the way of products and services. You need to determine the size of a tomato, or the grade of the cut of meat, or the color or freshness of the fresh fruit you want delivered. The benefits of determining your product specifications in advance are easy to see. You won’t be rushed to make a purchasing decision or to accept just any product that seems just “good enough”. Knowing an exact product specification is also beneficial in helping you narrow your choice of vendors based on which ones can hit your standards and guidelines.
Another consideration is whether or not products are continually backordered. In the negotiation, discuss what process will be used to provide you a substitution of an equal or better product at the same unit cost, if the need should arise. Also, discuss who will take care of getting the specified substitute for you, and who has the responsibility for the cost. If the distributor made the mistake, the distributor should pay; but, you must have this arrangement in writing. Cannon says, “This should go without saying, but never pay any vendor of any kind in full before you receive your goods or services. There are too many war stories of owners who’ve been ripped off by unethical vendors. Use good sense and be wise. Any reputable vendor should be more than satisfied with 50-percent or less up front and the rest due upon completion or with terms.”
Howard Cannon is a highly-recognized restaurant consultant, expert witness, analyst, and speaker. He is the author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Restaurant© – found in 76 countries around the globe. Mr. Cannon is the CEO of Restaurant Consultants of America and Restaurant Expert Witness, and can be reached at 800-300-5764 or via the web at RestaurantConsultantsOfAmerica.com or RestaurantExpertWitness.com.