When John Lennon and Paul McCartney found themselves in times of trouble, Mother Mary came to them according to the lyrics of Let it Be. And that may still be the case for many of us because these times are troubling. But I am Mary and the rest of her team have their hands full these days so rather than wait for that hopeful vision it may be time to take action rather than to just sit back and Let it Be.
One place to go for advice but few restaurant owners do is to you vendors. I have stressed numerous times that your vendors are some of your best fiends. Actually, they are better than best friends.
Think about it. Vendors are an odd lot and a dying breed. They probably are more customer service focused than any other group of wholesalers, or retailers for that matter, in the country. In many instances they actually send a salesperson in to take an order- they then deliver, let most of us – in the beginning anyway- sign a piece of paper that verifies the fact that we received everything and then they send us a bill. Who does that anymore? Their entire business model is based on the good faith practice that a guy struggling to pay rent, pay taxes, make payroll, keep the lights on, keep the garbage collector happy, keep the bank happy will find enough money within the cash flow picture to pay for lettuce, meat, poultry, dairy and booze.
And, in more cases than any vendor would like to admit, when the client Welch’s on the payment, many vendors still deliver because they know the account cannot exist without the product.
That is a friend. Actually, that’s a partner in the true definition of the word.
Yet, few restaurant owners will look for advice from their vendors. As a matter of fact, many of us duck and run when they call or show up at the door with a stack of unpaid bills or uncollected checks.
That mind set should change. Your vendors should be respected and treated as partners. Use their experience and business foresight. They didn’t become successful business people without the knowledge of how to deal with difficult problem during tumultuous times.
If you are having problems paying vendors, call them to discuss what can be done to make it easier for the both of you. Communication is a tremendous asset when you are facing financial turmoil. Try it with your vendors. An open line of communication may keep the food flowing even though your cash flow is diminishing. Whatever the outrcome, you can’t Let it Be. Mother Mary’s pretty busy right now and you may be at the bottom of her list.