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Why a Strong Relationship with Your Supplier Can Mean More Money in Your Pocket

There are many ways to cut costs, but what if the simplest way to save money was simply to develop and nurture one great relationship? Your food supplier holds the key to increasing your bottom line without sacrificing quality of goods.

Food purchasing is an intimate process. It’s not like making the round through your local grocery store’s aisles. Instead, it relies on a strong partnership with food providers to source great ingredients for a reasonable cost. Once you grow that connection, you may be privy to special sales and early inventory updates so you can be first in line. 

You might also consider requesting other brands and products that are more cost-effective than the current selection. You should have the freedom to purchase what you want when you want it, and a great caterer-supplier relationship is where that starts. 

Building a sturdy foundation for a profitable relationship requires intention and respect, so if you want to build a long-lasting bond with your supplier, you will need to put in the work. Here are a few tips to help you level up your relationships and find more savings in your everyday purchasing.

Make it worth their while.

You should give as much as you take, so do what you can to help out your food provider by committing to regular purchases. Consider agreeing to a minimum order amount in exchange for a set number of deliveries per week. This ensures your kitchen remains stocked while also providing your supplier with a reliable retainer client. You could also suggest a referral agreement that grants you discounts for referring new clients to the provider. 

Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Rest assured, negotiation does not spoil a great relationship. Your supplier should have your best interest in mind as well. Track your invoices and compare them to the market — you should never pay more than you would at a grocery store. If you have done your market research and think your prices are inflated, connect with your food provider and discuss ways to even it out. If they are not willing to work with you, it’s a good sign you should start looking elsewhere.

Become a friend.

Business aside, we are all humans who thrive on interpersonal connections. Get to know your provider on a personal level and treat them the way you would any other industry partner. Shoot over an email to check in and say hello during slow seasons. Follow them on social media and engage with their posts. Add them to your holiday mailing list. When you treat them like more than just a service provider, you’ll be top of mind when anything new and special arises.

Look at the relationship with your food supplier like any other relationship. It’s built upon the key tenets of mutual respect: honesty, kindness, and support. If you commit to showing up to the table with these principles, you can be sure that your supplier will meet you halfway (and, if they don’t, find one that will!).  


Clint Elkins

Clint Elkins is the VP Sales for SB Value located in Charlotte, NC. Clint, a former professional race car driver, was one of the top motorsports promoters in the country by the age of 35. Clint used that experience and passion for business to launch his second career in a sales and marketing. Outside of work Clint enjoys spending time on his family farm and coaching his two daughters softball teams. Clint is also an avid cook and self proclaimed badminton superstar.