As a vendor, understand how products are distributed to operators. There are several choices.
SELF DISTRIBUTION – This is probably the most expensive option, but may be what is needed when you start a new business and for a small geography. You are your best salesperson, with only one inventory to manage and you know your customers personally, but consider the cost of your time, transportation costs and food safety.
BROADLINE FOODSERVICE DISTRIBUTION – Sysco, US Foods, PFG, Unipro, Gordon, IMA and more. The big guys may move more slowly, but handle a lot of volume. Family owned businesses may react more quickly. You need a plan of attack to work efficiently. Your sales effort probably needs to line up with your choice of distributors.
SPECIALTY DISTRIBUTORS – These can vary by product type: seafood, produce, meat, Italian, Asian, etc. You need to know the reach of a distributor to verify your fit with them. Some Italian distributors serve a much broader market. How many of your potential customers are serviced by a produce distributor? Check out bigwheelbarrow.com to see a great effort in hyperlocal distribution!
CONVENIENCE STORE DISTRIBUTORS – C-stores have changed dramatically. In rural areas, the C-store may serve as the town’s restaurant. In the city, C-stores serve as a quick stop for a grab & go meal. Also, these distributors are now selling independent and chain restaurants.
CASH & CARRY –The neighborhood cash & carry is filling the gap for many restaurants today.