Five Questions to ask Suppliers as the Industry Re-opens

Jul 6, 2020

Restaurants and cafés have stepped up to the challenge of reopening in this brave new COVID-19 dining world. What about suppliers?

Ben Briggs is group general manager in charge of procurement and supply across Crown Resorts’ Perth and Melbourne venues. He says it’s crucial to ensure his 4500 suppliers, including 300 in food and beverage, are on the same page when it comes to responding to the ongoing health crisis.

Here are five COVID-19 questions he asks his suppliers to ensure that ‘new normal’ service can resume smoothly, safely and quickly.

  1. What steps have you taken to protect your employees?

“Crown has high standards internally – we’ve developed a 10-point plan to ensure we’re doing the right thing,” says Ben. “I’d listen to how my supplier answers and, if I think anything is missing, I’d say, ‘Have you considered x, y and z?’”

  1. Where you buy products internationally, have you thought through what the local alternatives or substitutions might be?

“While air travel remains limited and the global situation uncertain, it’s important to make sure suppliers can provide a consistent product. It’s one thing for a restaurant to have enough stock to open its doors and another for it to stay open, as traffic increases. Talking about minimum orders is important, too, because the volume might not be there in the first few months due to social distancing requirements.”

  1. What assurances do we have that you are adequately stocked with cleaning products?

“There are so many touchpoints involved in the preparation of food – surfaces need to be cleaned constantly. If a supplier doesn’t have enough cleaning products on hand, that could ring a potential alarm bell for us. And it might mean that we need to help them out.”

  1. Can we capture your delivery drivers’ phone details?

“If we can record delivery drivers’ names and phone numbers, we can then notify that individual if there is an issue that requires a rapid response. Or if there is a health issue with the driver, we can act swiftly at our end, too. We capture diners’ details in restaurants now so it’s worth considering whether delivery drivers could be in the same boat, too.”

  1. How are you?

“Relationships are crucial and, as well as asking about a supplier’s morale, it’s important to understand how they may have been affected by the recent shutdown. For example, do we need to adjust our lead times or delivery schedules to protect the supplier’s costs? If a supplier’s pricing is low on a certain product, can that be sustained?

“Interestingly for us, as we’re reopening there’s a lot of buzz because it’s like, ‘Hey, Crown’s reopening!’ Fortunately, a lot of our suppliers have been innovative in how they’ve operated during the crisis, with some of them starting to sell direct to consumers. But our focus remains on how we can help our suppliers reduce costs so when they do open again it’s going to be sustainable.”

An initiative of Fine Food, Hospitality Unites is the voice of the foodservice industry, dedicated to sharing the collective experiences and solutions to thrive in a post-COVID economy.

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