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Bar Management News

Building Profitable Vendor Relations

March 19, 2013 By: George Barton


Did you know that great relationships with beverage suppliers can contribute to revenue and margin improvements?   Yet, many restaurant and bar operators believe that supplier relationships can be adversarial or with conflict.

How do you turn an adversarial supplier relationship to a more cooperative or WIN/WIN relationship?  Here are 5 key steps that should help you and your team.

Recognize Supplier Strengths

  • They can link well to your marketing calendar
  • Their ability to provide special project support is excellent
  • The data they provide is cutting edge, just ask for it
  • Product distribution can make a huge impact (understand it)
  • They believe in Out of The Box Thinking
  • Sharing Best Practices can be extremely valuable

Opportunities -- Close the Gap

  • Best in class pricing still not consistent from market to market
  • Suppliers can play key role in manager education
  • Adding a new SKU (product) is not a layup
  • Caution on Quid Pro Quo (this for that)
  • Be sensitive to each other’s time

Communications -- Critical For Success

  • What are the business or brand strategies and key leverages
  • Have suppliers spend time “inside” your business to understand your brand and culture
  • Have annual or semiannual business reviews
  • Place vigorous focus around LTO’s and Promotions

Operations Improvement -- A Two Way Street

  • Strong compliance on approved products
  • Communicate de-selection of products to suppliers in advance
  • Challenge suppliers for ideation and breakthrough (“they get it”)
  • SERVER KNOWLEDGE is King (Suppliers can support and impact)

Marketing Improvements – Build Brand Equity for Both Sides

  • Plan and build marketing calendars that support ideation and goals
  • Share marketing calendar opportunities with suppliers in advance
  • Focus on Late Night,  the “new day part”
  • Include social media marketing in revenue building strategies
  • Test ideation (new products)  prior to rolling out

Maintaining and building on-going and lasting supplier relations can result in a WIN/WIN relationship and contribute to revenue and margin improvements.   Remember it is a two way street!


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