Along with my partner, Ricky King, I’m one of the co-founders of Untamed Sandwiches. We’re a New York-based sandwich shop with a menu that focuses on braised meat sandwiches made with sustainable ingredients. We take great pride in sourcing only the very best local and sustainable ingredients and products, and as a result, we do not use large distributors. Instead, we source from over 30 different small suppliers that can change given seasonal menu items and the constant drive to find the very best ingredients.
The relationships we’ve built with our suppliers are one of the key reasons why our food tastes as good as it does and why we have been successful, and I’m responsible for developing and maintaining those relationships. But even if you don’t work in the food industry, there are still a few things you can do to make sure your relationships with your company’s vendors is as successful as possible, for all parties involved.
1. Pay them on time.
That should be rules 1 to 10 of maintaining good relationships with your vendors.
2. Be honest with your suppliers and keep a dialogue going.
If you have specific needs that aren't being met, let them know. If quality slips, give them feedback. If you are exacting about quality, then you have high standards that need to be met, and your suppliers will work with you to meet those standards.
3. Sample often and give feedback on those samples.
Chances are, if you like the way one of your suppliers does one thing, you will like the way they do something else. And if you are looking for a new product or ingredient, it is always easiest to ask your current suppliers about it first.
4. Your credit card can be a valuable tool when you are first starting out in terms of paying suppliers.
Most suppliers won't give payment terms (such as Net 7, Net 15 or Net 30) to a new business, but if you don't have terms, that means you need to process an invoice and write a check every single time a supplier comes to your door. This is time consuming and distracting. But many suppliers will take credit cards, since it means they are guaranteed payment in less than three days. Also, as the payer, that means you have instant 30 days of terms before you have to pay off the card balance. It’s a win-win.
Read more about Untamed Sandwiches.
Photo: Jehangir Irani for OPEN Forum / Andy Jacobi, Untamed Sandwiches, Member Since '12