We all know that running a successful business involves many factors, but finding the best suppliers is a big one. After all, you can’t create, curate or sell products that your customers will love and recommend without the highest quality produce and materials to start with. But how do you go about choosing suppliers? We asked Yuma Hashemi, chef-owner of restaurant The Drunken Butler, whose entire business relies on the networks he’s built over the years. Discover his tips below.
Find the best suppliers fast by asking around
Finding the best suppliers can be as simple as just asking for recommendations. “I didn’t know anyone in London when I started,” says Yuma. “So I just went to a couple of people and asked to be introduced. Most people in your industry will already have a list of people they work with.”
And ask your suppliers, too
If you’re looking for a particular new product, your existing suppliers are likely to be able to point you in the right direction. “I have a guy who I get my French wines from, but I was looking for other regions,” remembers Yuma. “I said to him, ‘I know you only source French wine, but do you know anyone good for German and Austrian wines?’ He recommended someone he knew, so now I use him. My fishmonger sells wine too, and now he buys it from the same supplier, because I recommended him. Everybody is connected.“
Supporting other local businesses
Having a local sourcing strategy could help you reduce your carbon footprint, but there are some additional benefits of using local suppliers, too: using local produce means you’re supporting other small businesses, and keeping money circulating through the community. It’s one of the reasons Yuma avoids large supply companies. “A lot of bigger companies approach me and say they can serve us in 24 hours, no minimum order, we can get everything whenever we want it,” he says. “That’s not what we like.”
“We want restrictions,” he continues. “We like to know that we can’t get everything at any time. On a global basis, that’s important. So it’s important you keep things local if you can, and work with other independent businesses. They’re all small, and there’s a lot of work, a lot of effort, to do what you do. I’d rather give my money to support someone, because this is how I make my money too.”
“Suppliers want to have their products in places where they’ve been represented and used respectfully. If you have a good relationship, there’s always something hidden in the back for you.”
Locally sourced produce pays off
This community spirit can reap rewards for you, too – for Yuma, using locally produced foods has helped him create useful relationships with these businesses. “Because the butcher is local, he will say, ‘There’s a restaurant down there, they’re using our products, you should try it.’ When you use locally sourced food the word spreads a little bit further.”
The smaller the supplier, the better
“Look for suppliers who keep their client list very small,” advises Yuma. “Many of the people I work with have a strict limit on client numbers. For example, one of them has a 100 restaurant limit. He says, ‘At 100 clients, I’m really good. At 101, I’m not as good.’ That’s a good sign, because the bigger the client list, the more difficult it is to keep quality high.”
Make sure your suppliers know their stuff
“We work with companies who know their farmers, their fishermen – they know them, literally,” says Yuma. A good supplier will know exactly where your produce has come from, and will be able to affirm the quality and provenance of your locally sourced ingredients.
Stay on top of your inventory
Suppliers will want to know that you’re doing them justice. “They want to have their products in places where they’ve been represented and used respectfully,” says Yuma. One way to ensure this? Reducing waste. Cut loses with Zettle POS: it makes staying on top of your inventory easy, allowing you and your staff to keep track of (and avoid) wasted produce.
Want to make the most of your carefully sourced products? Zettle can help you keep track of your inventory, and with our reporting tools, discover the products your customers love the most. Find out more at Zettle.com