By Tom Scalese, COO of East Coast Wings + Grill
Supply chain issues have become something most restaurant owners experience, and have come to expect over the last few years in the industry. As prices continue to rise and product remains difficult to source, what can restaurants do to ensure they have what they need to keep serving their customers? Restaurant franchise brands taking the following necessary steps to navigate and minimize the impact of these challenges will be ahead of the game and will ensure a stronger, more successful year for their business in 2023.
Allocate Resources Across All Operating Locations, and Provide Substitution Options
Restaurant chains need to be in the practice of distributing its supplies across all its operating locations to ensure each one in the system will have what they need to best serve its guests. It is important to be aware of upcoming shortages so restaurant owners can be prepared for them and have the opportunity to seek out substitution options that can be used if needed. Having substitutions helps limit how often restaurants will run out of product to serve guests. This helps keep things running, and keeps guests satisfied with their restaurant experience.
Maintain Strong Relationships with Vendor Partners
Facilitating strong relationships with your vendor partners overtime gives your business a level of importance to their success. A restaurant that a vendor has worked with previously, and has had a positive experience with, will take priority over a new business partnership or existing weak partnerships. Building and maintaining these relationships may even help when negotiating and locking in prices with vendors on supplies a few months out – this approach can help guarantee a restaurant’s locations will have what each needs months in advance and keep costs as low as possible.
Participating in group purchasing organizations (GPOs) is another way to fulfill gaps in supply. Due to the volume of GPOs, manufacturers tend to prioritize keeping them supplied appropriately. This in turn keeps the GPO’s customers adequately supplied with the inventory they need and can be a helpful resource for companies to have as backup.
Keep A Line of Open Communication
Maintaining communication helps to get ahead of supply chain issues and find solutions that benefit everyone. Consider sharing weekly reports and updates with vendors and restaurant owners within the system on approved menu, ingredient, and supply substitutions, plus any new products introduced to help deal with the current landscape.
Staying in constant communication with vendors allows for restaurant brand to know what shortages might be ahead, keeps restaurant brands updated on their existing orders, and even helps to manage a point of stress for its restaurant franchisees. Because these franchisees on the local level are dealing with supply chain issues first hand, keeping lines of communications is vital so they know they have the support.
It is clear that supply chain issues in the restaurant industry will continue to be a consideration that owners need to take account of throughout 2023. Taking the necessary steps to know what challenges may lay ahead will allow restaurant brands to prepare for potential issues early making the whole process easier for all involved. To ensure success, it is important to take inventory of your supplies and distribute them across the entire restaurant system, build relationships with vendor partners, and communicate with partners and franchisees. Making sure all stakeholders feel supported, standards are met, and a certain level of service to guests is being achieved consistently will go a long way as the industry continues to face supply chain challenges.