Making the Most of Your Business’s Purchasing Practices

Imagine if you could control most of what (and who) comes in and out of your kitchens. If you are looking to attain such purchasing department goals and objectives, it is crucial to put safe, proven, and streamlined sourcing and procurement best practices into place.

We asked our trusted source: Vicki Griffith, VP of Quality Assurance & Purchasing for Farmers Restaurant Group, to offer her expertise on how to run a purchasing department. Since 1993, Vicki has been doing just that; spearheading quality assurance, implementing strategic purchasing methods, cultivating relationships, and more.

Purchasing. Purchasing involves sourcing to your specifications and needs, then costing out what works within your P&L. Focus on streamlining your purchasing systems in order to eliminate as much waste as possible. In short: make smart choices. Anyone can, and probably will, make mistakes. Remaining vigilant with your systems will not only help you make knowledgeable decisions, but also help keep your checks and balances in order.

Inventory. Keep it tight! Generally, the more you have on hand, the more you waste. Keeping kitchens stocked with minimal waste will depend on how much you order, how many deliveries you get per week, your average number of guests, your most popular dishes, and the like. This is where your systems, your checks and balances, will again come into play.

Cultivating Relationships. What you are looking for in a vendor? Is it a like-minded business model? Someone you can easily relate to? A vendor with a solid industry reputation? All of the above? Do your research to seek out your best fit. Word of mouth is a great place to start. Also, get involved in your local restaurant association, search local online industry resources, and look at vendors’ websites to see what speaks to you. An effective working relationship is essential within culinary operations. Directing your team’s needs coupled with a focus towards quality assurance is vital for cultivating a trustworthy vendor/purchaser relationship.

Procurement Best Practices. In order to set procurement best practices into motion, Vicki suggests meeting with more than one company. Oftentimes, she takes three bids to compare services. Laying out prices and service pros and cons is a great way to narrow down your choices.

Embrace Change…and Your Inner Negotiator. Good purchasers have great negotiation skills. To be able to embrace the constant state of motion (and sourcing options) of the restaurant and hospitality industry, one must know their market, follow current trends, and stay well informed. If these elements are in order, you’ll be able to negotiate purchasing contracts for the benefit of your business with the best of them.

 *photo: a trusted FRG chicken vendor, Bell & Evans.