Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Selling Directly to Restaurants

Some restaurants, especially locally owned ones, want to feature dishes and menus that use local produce. This presents a good marketing opportunity for farmers to sell to them directly.


• Chefs value fresh, high-quality products.


• Expect small order size and frequent delivery.

• Chefs value top-quality produce.

• It's important to provide the buyer with a weekly availability list.

• Chefs may require a consistent supply of particular items.

Tips for Direct Sales to Restaurants

• Be consistent. Chefs expect a product will be delivered if they put it on the menu.

• Build a relationship with the entire staff. Chefs move frequently.

• Chefs are on a tight schedule and generally require deliveries when they're not busy, such as before 10 a.m. or between 2 and 5 p.m.

• Introduce new products by dropping off free samples with your regular deliveries.

• Fax or email a list of available products for the chef to order from.

• Use the chefs as your best source of market information. They may know what the next big thing is before you do.

• Know how the chef is using your product and be prepared to talk about other ways to use it.

• In the autumn, ask the chefs what products they want you to grow next season.

• Ask about each restaurant's needs: pack, size, variety, post-harvest preferences, new items, and how they would like to place orders (by fax, text message, phone, email).

Key Questions to Ask Yourself

• How far in advance do the chefs need to see an accurate schedule of product availability in order to allow them to plan their menus?

• What restaurants are the best fit for my product profile? Ethnic? High-end gourmet? Specialty bakeries?

• What production, handling, storage, and delivery methods will I use to ensure the freshest and highest quality products to high-end chefs? Highlight these in outreach to chefs.

• How frequently and quickly am I able to deliver to restaurants? What are the chef 's expectations about this?

• How do the restaurants want to communicate with me? Cell phone, text message, email, fax?

(from ATTRA News)

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