Jun 30, 2014
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The Perishable Goods Supply Chain- A View From The Other Side

As a former restaurant manager for over 20 years whose family still currently owns and operates food service establishments and as an employee for a company that sells vitamin injections, I feel uniquely qualified to help vendors help themselves when it comes to the efficiency involved with the actual unloading of the product which can consume valuable time and productivity in the supply chain.

It is important to realize that the vendor and the receiving business staff both share in the overall efficiency of the delivery; I will point out some common sense steps that both parties should take to shrink the time needed to deliver the product.

Establishment Tips –

  • Have a staff dedicated to unloading the truck 

These staff members should be available to move product off the truck and not be charged with any other responsibility during that time. When I worked in the family restaurant I found that trying to pull people from other responsibilities was a mistake. Overall it was cheaper and more effective just to bring in a dedicated staff.

  • Have the same crew each week

The crew should be the same each week, this creates cohesiveness, familiarity and efficiency. There is nothing worse than to lose one of your team members for several minutes because he/she cannot figure out where a product should go.

  • Prepare the location ahead of time

By the time the truck has arrived your product should have been consolidated and rotated in order for the new product to be put away quickly.

  • Have enough hand trucks

This is common sense but sometimes missed by even experienced business people. The unloading could come to a complete stand still simply because you are short 1 hand truck.

  • Order just what you need

This is one of the most important steps to not only controlling how much stock you carry, but reducing labor costs and controlling your food costs. By becoming an expert in your typical weekly usage you can free up space and funds that can either be saved or used in other areas.

When we first expanded out warehouse at US hcg shots we increased our inventory by 50%, we “over ordered” some products which created an issue trying to find a suitable location to not only place the perishable products, but all the packaging and other products that went in the packages, such as band aids, alcohol swabs etc…

As a vendor you certainly cannot force your clients to follow these simple guidelines but perhaps a newsletter or email detailing best practices may be well received and encourage these establishments to take steps to increase productivity and reduce costs.

There is more that you, as a vendor, can do to help yourself deliver and unload product in record time.

Vendor Tips –

  • Be on time

there is nothing more frustrating and unproductive as a delivery arriving too early, too late or in the middle of the busiest day parts. By having a schedule (with your biggest clients) you can assure that the majority of the truck is unloaded when the establishment is ready for you.

  • Help with the unloading in some capacity

Your drivers may not need to actually unload product, but assisting in checking off the invoice as the products roll of the truck can be incredibly helpful. No one knows that invoice better than your team.

  • Have orders separated by location

If possible try and keep the truck organized by stop and client. This way your 1st stop is closest to the door and as you unload the next stop will then be closest. Having to hunt around the truck for the order is counterproductive. It is understood that different parts of the truck keep products at different temperatures.

By ensuring you are active with your client base you can reduce the amount of time your drivers have between stops, decrease idling time in parking lots which gives your company the flexibility to add an additional stop on the same truck and reduces fuel and possibly labor costs. These suggestions will also ensure that your clients will benefit since your deliveries will arrive and be unloaded in an efficient and timely manner.

Pete Kontakos is a former foodservice and retail general and district manager with over 20 years of experience in the field. He also contributes to examiner.com writing about sports and fitness.

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