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Tips for Working with Your Distributor to Reopen Your Food Service Operation

Although COVID-19 continues to be a fluid situation, many states and municipalities are starting the process of allowing businesses to reopen. Food service operators have adjusted their business models to allow for take-out or delivery only during stay-at-home mandates. As quarantine regulations ease, operators will need to transition business back to allowing patrons inside the building.

Getting your operation back up to speed will take partnership with your distributors. The more information you can share with your distributor about your reopening plans, the better they can help you get the products you need to run your business. Below are some helpful tips for how you can work with your distribution partner to reopen your business safely and smoothly.


Products

  • Please share with your distributor the products that you will be purchasing that you either did not purchase previously or purchased in much smaller quantities than intended currently. Examples may include: masks, hand sanitizers, surface disinfectants, to-go containers, wrapped cutlery, etc.
  • Be sure to inform your distributor of any forthcoming one-time catering events that will result in a spike in demand or require “special orders”. The distributor may need as much as 2-4 weeks to meet this unexpected demand.
  • Please be flexible regarding shortages and substitutions while the supply chain rebuilds. It’s a good idea to have proactive conversations about what key items are in short supply or unavailable.
  • Be flexible where possible concerning fresh and frozen. There may be opportunities to buy a product at a substantially lower cost if your menu allows.


Deliveries

  • Plan ahead and don’t wait until the day you need groceries to discover that there are unavailable items.
  • Be sure to confirm delivery schedules with your distributor as service schedules for locations may have changed.
  • We recommend that you increase your drop size and reduce the number of orders shipped to your location. This will reduce the strain on your distributor and can improve your position on a delivery route.
  • Review all order confirmations for items ordered versus what is being allocated.


Finance

  • Be sure to verify pricing with your distributor prior to quoting catering events as many proteins have seen significant prices increases.
  • Take note of any invoices that did not get processed for payment before you closed. This may delay getting your opening order.


Safety

  • Stay informed on how your distributor is handling workers who test positive for COVID-19.
  • Be sure to share any new health or safety protocols that should be followed when deliveries are being made to your operation.

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