Bobby London, Jackie Linen, Billy Bake, Tommy Tomato, Ten-cent Hal, and the vendor nobody wants to see, Gary Hat, are all upstanding guys. Their product is their livelihood, their lifeline to the mortgage payment. And guess what? It’s also your livelihood.
Linen, meat, bread, milk, produce, liquor and loan sharks have long been part of the business. Aside from your crew, and the ambiance of the place, they are your backbone. They’re essential. And once upon a time you could time a turkey on when they walked through your back door with their deliveries. They’d come – on time – whether the bill was paid or not. None of these over-the-shoulder haulers ever had a dispatcher call to say the “truck broke down.” It was a partnership. If Bobby London was late, no burgers sizzling on the grill. If Jackie Linen was a no -show, the tablecloths didn’t do anybody any good on the back of his truck.
Today, things have grown corporate. Bakeries have customer service departments; liquor companies have three levels of phones before you can even get to the right brand manager, never mind the right salesman. With commissary kitchens, co-packers, and vendors taking on accounts in the middle of the boonies making deliveries harder to accommodate, the delivery window once only allowing for minimal lateness has now expanded to hours destroying dayparts and profits. Add the fact many restaurants and cafes are now opening before birds sing and deliveries are a scheduling nightmare.
But the fact remains, a presentable pastry case is an impulse buyer’s adventure and a solid profit center for most cafes and coffee shops. The way pastry is presented and displayed is the best sales tool for any coffee shop or bakery.
Last Saturday – Starbucks – 7:15 a.m. Bakery case is as empty as trash containers are when the store opens during the pre-dawn hours. The bakery delivery was late. Hours late. Now I am positive the corporate giant has more pull with the co-packing commissary bakery that delivers the goods. Yet, what about the small guy who has little pull, is late on the bill and has little power other than to go through the hassle of switching vendors.
Due to the rhythmic procedures it takes to manage a well tuned, smoothly running operation, the importance of on-time deliveries are the foundation of the day. A late linen delivery, the tables can’t be set, the staff is stressed, the customer realizes it, and the mood is uncomfortable. A late produce delivery, the prep guy is standing around, talking to the dish. Payroll cost soar.
But bakery, that’s a key component to the entire profit margin for many cafes and coffee shops. The case is the profit. When Bobby Bake is late, the day is hell and the profits can be lost in the most important of all dayparts- 6:00- 9:00 a.m. How hard is it to set a front opening case next to a line of bakery frenzied Cappagrande drinkers? Exactly, it is almost impossible.
The solution doesn’t begin with a threat of switching vendors. The solution begins when you charge the vendor for being late. It’s not easy, but it works. Here’s how it goes.
After numerous late deliveries –say three- in short period of time – say 6 weeks, send a nice letter to the vendor explaining the initiation of your “Late delivery Policy”. The first delivery infraction is $10.00. The second is $20.00 and the third is $30.00.
The rules of engagement are simple. The delivery had to be delivered outside a reasonable window of time allowing for traffic, weather conditions, earthquakes, robberies, and vehicle break down. But keep track of the excuse; some drivers still own dogs that eat their homework.
I’ll guarantee that once the letter crosses the owner’s desk, you’ll get a call, the situation will be analyzed and you’ll never have a late delivery – for a few months – again.
Don’t try this with Gary Hat. Loan sharks come whenever they want.