Navigating the Restaurant Supply Chain When You Reopen for Indoor Dining

One of the most important things to ensuring your business is successful when you open your doors for indoor dining again is the navigation of the restaurant supply chain during and after the pandemic. As restaurants look towards patrons eating inside their operations again, many operators are balancing new sanitation guidelines with limited available inventory. Communication is the most important factor in operators successfully navigating the restaurant supply chain and surviving a pandemic.

Consider your indoor dining reopening as a soft opening. What contingencies do you have in place if there is gap or long wait for inventory when preparing for a successful reopening? Here are 3 things operators should be doing to manage the restaurant supply chain and ensure inventory is stocked for a successful dining room reopening:

Communicate with Distributors and Suppliers

It’s important that your distributors know your forecasted expectations in regard to your purchase volumes and any changes that you’ve made to your order guide. As more restaurants open for indoor dining, foot traffic increases, and distributors start to get busier, there will be an even larger focus on first come, first serve. So be ready to get your inventory and par lists together so your distributors have your order.

Here is a checklist of key things you should communicate to your distributors and suppliers before your indoor dining reopening:

  • Items and specs for substitutions
  • Daily communication schedule
  • Changes made to your purchase volume and order guide products
  • Disposables needs
  • Any new chemical or sanitation needs
  • New orders for non-perishable items like PPE, paper, plastic, and dry items

Conduct Inventory and Place Orders

Conduct an inventory count and place an order with your distributors to get all items to par level. Operators will have a better chance of receiving most, if not all, of their needed products if they order ahead of their indoor dining reopening. Make sure to speak with your distributor representative to discuss where substitutions can be made for those items that may have limited supply. Have that conversation in advance so you are prepared when it’s time to open those doors and let your customers back in.

Take an in-depth look at your needed supplies and the items listed on your menu that are more susceptible to a disruption in the supply chain now that more people will be dining inside your establishment. When it comes to inventory to support your take-out and curbside pick-up, these items are in higher demand now than ever. Communicate with your distributors about what disposable items you need and how frequently you will need them.

Know State and City Sanitation Guidelines

While you may be nervous that distributors and suppliers will be low on certain sanitation items, the truth is much different. Many manufacturers and suppliers of cleaning and sanitation products have been increasing their stock to ensure businesses can meet new federal and state sanitation guidelines. Not sure where to source the right products on spec? Consider connecting with your existing suppliers and distributors for product recommendations.

When it comes to understanding and managing the restaurant supply chain, our team of experts are ready and available to help! Contact us today!