In the restaurant business there are no shortage of vendors! From napkin choices, to ingredients, to wine, most businesses deal with dozens of vendors daily. Especially when it comes to wine.If you have a robust wine list with great variety, chances are you have to get your wine from several different vendors, so how do you manage your wine vendors to help save you time and increase value?
“Vendor relationships are really important,” said Rodel Marquez, VP of Operations at Ruby Rangoon in Palo Alto. “We have certain vendors that I talk to once every week. They do training for the staff for me, they call me when they have discounts for me before anyone else, they save things that I have allocated, they suggest items they think might be fit for our cuisine.”
Here are some great tips for saving time and maximizing value when managing your wine vendors:
- Establish relationships. Creating a friendly business relationship with your vendor is important for longevity.
- Set ground rules for how you taste. Vendors will frequently offer you wine tastings of new wines they want to sell. While you may have the time to participate in these wine tastings frequently, you may not. It’s important to set up parameters with your wine vendors from the get-go. Some managers will take any tasting meeting, others will only call and set the tasting meetings themselves.
- Have a set day and time you reach out to vendors. Having a time blocked off in your schedule to reach out to vendors, probably shortly after you do weekly inventory, makes sure you are making enough time for your vendors and for your orders. While sometimes you may need to order something on the fly, if you have a streamlined process, both parties will benefit.
- Use different vendors. Not a single vendor will get all the wine you want. You need to be authentic to your wine list. While you may be able to get most of your wine from three vendors, there maybe be 5 other smaller vendors that you need to go to to get the unique wines your customers love. Don’t be intimidated by this process. Stay true to your list and make time for all of your vendors.
- Use your best judgement. Some vendors you will trust more than others. Before blindly trusting a vendor to recommend a good wine, make sure you do several tastings with them. Trust with vendors is earned not given.
Your relationship with your wine vendor is no doubt one of the most important to the overall success of your wine program. To make the most out of managing your wine vendors, make sure you are staying true to your wine list, being conscious of cost and spending time to get to know your vendor’s recommendations and their palate.