3 Tips for Building a Successful Restaurant Supply Chain
When it comes to the foodservice supply chain, there is little room for trial and error. A simple mistake could cause serious problems in the supply chain that can result in lost revenue or wasted product, can more broadly hurt a brand or lose otherwise loyal customers, and at its worst, put consumers at risk of foodborne illness.
Lately, challenges have only become bigger for the increasingly complex foodservice supply chain industry. Customers are demanding fresher food, new taste profiles, and greater menu variety which is creating unpredictability in the supply chain at the same time that pressure is mounting for greater consistency, to meet quality standards, and food safety requirements. Add to this continued weather disruptions and commodity price volatility, and the stresses on the foodservice supply chain are higher than ever.
However, all of these issues can serve as great lessons for improving your supply chain. Here are three areas that should have your attention:
1. Food safety and traceability. This should be one of the largest areas of focus for supply chain managers in the foreseeable future. If your organization (chain, distributor, or supplier) does not have a Quality Management (QM) system in place currently, you’ll want to get one in place soon. QM systems cover broad terrain, from how you qualify and onboard new products and capture quality issues, to preparing for and implementing product recalls up and down your supply chain. Organizations both large and small need to protect their brands and can choose different QM options that scale to their respective operations.
2. Ensure purchasing compliance. That local bakery supplier down the street might have great-tasting cookies, but when individual restaurant operators decide to go off plan and purchase items not approved by the corporate office, there is potential for financial impact, as well as risks to quality, brand consistency, and even consumer health. The corporate team should have the ability to be automatically alerted to off-contract purchasing and the visibility needed to tackle compliance problems before they become larger threats.
3. Properly structuring promotions and limited time offers within your brand. Product shortages and product obsolescence can turn a great promotion into a disaster. In order to ensure success, today’s restaurant chain should have visibility into distribution center inventory and product flow from suppliers, with alerts when the product on hand and on order may not meet anticipated demand. Before the promotion, ensure demand is built and forecasting is modeled properly with an accurate and streamlined commitment capture process. Involving store managers and soliciting their feedback will provide valuable on-the-ground insights to modify planning and drive the best results with minimal waste or shortage issues.
Getting ahead of these three key elements can significantly improve your foodservice supply chain, and ensure your brand is in the best position for success. All of these things can be accomplished with the right combination of technology, partnerships, and supply chain flexibility.