Rachel Dobson, managing director of hospitality and catering buying specialist Lynx Purchasing
New Year is traditionally a time for optimism, but bar operators would be well advised to take a pragmatic view of their food & drink purchasing as 2018 gets under way.
Costs are increasing due to multiple factors – currency depreciation, minimum wage and business rates increases, weather and changing patterns of global demand – and the industry is in an inflationary cycle for the first time in many years, and for younger business owners and managers, for the first time in their careers.
Fortunately, there are some experienced hands who’ve been through this before. At Lynx Purchasing, during 2018 we’re focusing on what we call the ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective Purchasing Teams’ – tried-and-trusted tactics that should be in every operator’s armoury in the current tough market.
1. Beware The Sacred Cows: When it comes to purchasing, no product, ingredient, service or supplier should be sacred. Compare prices and look around for other options.
2. Keep It Strictly Business: Strong relationships with suppliers doesn’t mean getting too close and cosy. Compare prices and know which other suppliers are out there.
3. The Devil’s In The Detail: Have systems in place to make sure you are getting exactly what you pay for as well as buying what’s best for the business. Such as checking price lists against invoices, and checking and weighing deliveries.
4. All Budgets Are Equal: Necessities – from cleaning products to pest control, lighting and office stationery – often escape buying scrutiny. Making a change here could be an easy win with no customer impact.
5. Provenance Isn’t Always King: Local is a great story for the menu but businesses can lose sight of true costs – and value – of buying from local suppliers.
6. Test Traditions: Just like habits, there are good traditions and bad ones. “This is the way it’s done because we have always done it this way” isn’t a good enough reason in itself.
7. Always Review Renewals: it’s easy to let contracts roll over, especially if you and your managers are happy with the service. Never automatically renew a contract, call for competitive quotes on everything from utilities to waste management.