Why and how to strengthen supplier relationships in times of crisis?

Shortages, substitute products, inflation, the ability of suppliers and restaurateurs to adapt has been put to the test. How to create sustainable relationships in times of crisis?

Clément Renard


February 2023

Managing supplier relationships in the restaurant industry: our tips| Inpulse
In this article:

Developing and maintaining a good relationship with your suppliers is key to the success of your restaurant chain: it is about product quality, supply performance, and ultimately about the differentiation factors of your concept for your customers and franchisees. Inflation and the crisis in Ukraine have led to many shortages and some products have had to be replaced. The adaptability of suppliers and restaurateurs has been put to the test. Prices are constantly changing. All of these changes have led to a great deal of instability for restaurateurs. In this time of crisis, building long-lasting relationships with your suppliers is a must. Inpulse gives you some ideas to achieve this:

1. Communicate clearly and effectively with your suppliers

For a supplier to be able to provide you with quality products, while delivering them on time, they must be able to understand your expectations and needs. It's best to lay the groundwork from the beginning by clarifying your essential needs and the criteria on which you can make concessions. This will require communication with your supplier on a number of issues, including 

  • the list of products desired in the mercurial ;
  • day and time of delivery;
  • Purchase volumes;
  • packaging;
  • the minimum purchase price from the supplier (free of charge);
  • payment terms;
  • terms and conditions related to credit applications;
  • substitute references in case of shortage.

A lot of negotiation work must be done beforehand, in order to set conditions that satisfy you and your suppliers.

2. Set up mercurials

Mercurial: definition

A price list in the restaurant business is a tool that allows you to lock in the prices of certain ingredients with suppliers over a given period. The price of the dishes offered on your menu changes less often than the price of foodstuffs. Setting up a price list allows you to limit the impact of price fluctuations of foodstuffs within a period agreed with the supplier and thus to calculate the margin generated by each dish.

How does a mercurial system work? 

To implement a price list for all your restaurants, you need to set up a card with key information for inventory management: 

  • unit price ;
  • supplier's name ;
  • product reference ;
  • packaging and control unit.

You will keep track of the prices agreed with the supplier on this price list. When a new recipe has to be implemented, you will be able to calculate its cost more easily.

How to maintain the suppliers' price lists?

Groceries, frozen foods and personal care products are easier to price because they move more slowly than meat, fish or produce. List the products you want to include in the price list and discuss them with your suppliers. 

A real follow-up of the blocked rates is necessary from the restaurant owner, the purchasing manager or the management controller. Indeed, despite the supplier's commitment, products may experience unexpected increases due to the economic or legal context, as we have recently experienced. It is therefore necessary to be able to track price changes in order to be alerted and take the right measures to maintain profitability.

It can be useful to have an inventory management software that centralizes all these data to regularly update the price lists. It will allow you to to monitor the profitability of each dish in real time.

3. Supplier management: pay attention to payment deadlines 

For an efficient management of your supplier relationship, it is important to respect the agreed payment terms. The maximum payment terms are regulated by law for food products. This period is different if the product purchased is perishable or if it is a beverage. Refer to the invoice which indicates this valuable information. 

If you are having trouble paying on time, discuss it with your suppliers to find a mutually acceptable solution.

The software offered by Inpulse allows you to centralize orders, to control the quantities actually delivered, to update the price lists, and when you receive supplier invoices, it will greatly facilitate your accounting work by allowing you to reconcile the information present on the supplier invoices and the delivery notes.

To go further in simplifying supplier payments, other software such as Libeo or Pennylane allow you to automate and centralize the payment of all your invoices.

4. Be transparent and honest

If you have a problem with a product or service, don't hesitate to talk to your supplier. It can be : 

  • A defect in the quality of the products supplied;
  • logistical problems such as delays in delivery;
  • too many substitute products;
  • a failure to comply with the set prices.

Be honest and open to discussion when addressing issues with your suppliers. This will make them more willing to help you. By implementing these supplier management practices, you can expect to build a strong trusting relationship and ensure better collaboration over the long term.

5. How does Inpulse help you facilitate your relationship with your suppliers?

The solution proposed by Inpulse solution allows you to track the entire supply chain: from the price lists to the delivery of the products.

  • Simplify ordering:

Thanks to theautomation of supplier orders, Inpulse automatically generates the purchase order according to the restaurant's needs and the supplier's logistical conditions (delivery day, packaging, free shipping, etc.). Orders are sent directly via the software by email or by EDI connection. 

  • Receipt of goods :

All the operators have to do is check the goods on delivery and enter the quantities and references delivered in the Inpulse software. If the delivery is incomplete or the goods are defective, it is possible to automatically send a credit note request with a photo to keep track of the problems encountered. This avoids overpayments at the time of supplier invoicing

Request a free demo of Inpulse now and test all the features.

To go further

More than 1,200 restaurants and retail outlets use Inpulse on a daily basis