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

Shortages, substitutions, inflation: the adaptability of suppliers and restaurant owners has been put to the test. How can you build sustainable relationships in times of crisis ?

Clément Renard

Clément Renard


Feb 2023

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

Developing and maintaining good relationships with your suppliers is key to the success of your restaurant chain. Product quality, supply performance, and even the differentiating factors of your concept for customers and franchisees depend on it. Inflation and the crisis in Ukraine have caused many shortages and some products have had to be replaced. The adaptability of suppliers and restaurant owners has been severely tested. Prices are constantly changing. All these factors have created considerable instability for restaurant owners. In times of crisis, building sustainable relationships with your suppliers is essential. Inpulse shares some ideas on how to achieve this :

1. Communicate clearly and effectively with your suppliers

For a supplier to be able to provide you with quality products and deliver 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 : 

  • Price list of desired products;
  • Day and time of delivery;
  • Purchase volumes;
  • Packaging;
  • Minimum purchase price from supplier (carriage paid);
  • Payment terms;
  • Terms and conditions related to credit requests;
  • Substitute references in case of shortages.

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

2. Set up price lists

Price list : definition

In the restaurant business, a price list 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 frequently than the price of foodstuffs. Setting up a price list lets you limit the impact of price fluctuations in foodstuffs within a period agreed with the supplier and thus calculate the margin generated by each dish.

How does a price list 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;
  • Name of supplier;
  • Product reference;
  • Packaging and control unit.

You can track prices agreed with your supplier on this price list. When you introduce a new recipe, you’ll be able to calculate its cost more easily.

How to maintain supplier price lists ?

It's easier to set up price lists for groceries, frozen foods, and personal care products, because their prices change more slowly than those for meat, fish or fruits and vegetables. Add the products you want to the price list and discuss them with your suppliers. 

The restaurant owner, purchasing manager or management controller needs to keep an eye on locked-in prices. Despite supplier commitment, some products may be subject to unexpected price increases due to economic or regulatory conditions, as we’ve recently seen. It's essential to be able to track price changes so you can be prepared and take appropriate action to maintain profitability.

Stock management software that centralises all this data and regularly updates price lists can make life easier. It will let you monitor the profitability of each dish in real time.


3. Respect supplier payment terms 

To efficiently manage your supplier relationship, it’s important to respect agreed payment terms. Maximum payment terms are regulated by law according to food product type. This period is different if the product purchased is perishable or a beverage. Refer to the invoice for this valuable information.   

If you’re having trouble paying on time, talk to your suppliers to find a mutually acceptable solution.

Inpulse software lets you centralise orders, check quantities actually delivered and update price lists. When you receive supplier invoices, it will make your accounting work easier by enabling you to match the information on supplier invoices with delivery notes.

To simplify supplier payments even further, other software such as Libeo  or Pennylane  can automate and centralise 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 about : 

  • A quality defect in the products supplied;
  • Logistical problems such as delivery delays;
  • An excessive number of substitute products;
  • Non-compliance with agreed prices.

Be honest and open when discussing issues with your suppliers. It will make them more inclined to help you. By implementing these supplier management practices, you can build a strong, trusting relationship and ensure better long-term collaboration.

5. Let Inpulse facilitate your supplier relationships

The Inpulse solution lets you monitor the entire supply chain, from price lists to product delivery.

  • Simplified ordering :

Thanks to supplier order automation, Inpulse automatically generates purchase orders according to restaurant needs and supplier logistical conditions (delivery date, packaging, carriage paid, etc). Orders are sent directly via the software by email or EDI connection. 

  • Easier receipt of goods :

Operators simply check goods on delivery and enter quantities and references in the Inpulse software. If the delivery is incomplete or the goods defective, a credit note request can be automatically sent along with a photo to keep a record of the problems encountered. This helps to avoid overpayments at supplier invoicing time. 

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

To go further

More than 2,000 restaurants and points of sale use Inpulse every day