negotiating prices with vendors

Joined Aug 16, 2008
First time in a role where I really need to be on top of my vendors myself. Spent past decade working with a corporate account that did all the contracting for prices and what not.

Where do you guys get your most up to date market expectations and the info that you use to keep your vendors honest??
Joined Sep 21, 2001
Hi there.

I get pricing online from all my vendors. It makes it easy to compare. I also belong to Costco so I can get an idea of the cash and carry prices on some things.

Hope this helps!

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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Several ways to do this.

Learn who the vendors are in your area. Contact them and ask for a sales visit. Hopefully there will be large and small ones. (I think this might be old school, pre-internet. If you can do it online, so much the better.)

During the visit, have a list of products ready that you would like prices on. 

     As Peachcreek said, go to Cotstco, Sam's Club and the rest to see what they charge for some products. 

If you have a Restaurant Depot and they carry products you need, it might be worth your time to pick them up yourself.

Check the local supermarket. I once found out that Sysco was charging twice as much as the local supermarket chain for vinegar. That prompted a check on other prices. 

     This will all take time. You not only get familiar with local providers but fluctuations in prices due to seasonality, weather conditions, availability, etc. 

     Over time, I also discovered a local specialty food distributor was getting many of their products from a couple of other distributors in the area and repackaging at higher prices. So you might find something similar.

Lastly, read through the threads here. There have been some great discussions about this. 
Joined Feb 8, 2009
You can only negotiate if your volume is large enough to negotiate. In other words a food service company for many restaurant chefs is more of a convenience than a bargining tool. When I only had one account, I had to ask them to deliver to my account. When I had three accounts they asked me if I would deal with them. I was then large enough to get better pricing, better service and better delivery times. This also goes for the beverage companies. If your a volume customer, and I was because of having a large vending business along with my food service. I was able to negotiate everything from good pricing, refrigeration and remodels for my company. When I bought groceries for my company in the early days I did it by buying what I could from the food companies. I then bought somethings that I felt was outrageous pricing from local food stores, case & carry and Costco. I also bought a lot of my bread and rolls from bread thrift stores to save money. Most Chefs don't look at doing a lot of this because they aren't owners. In your case, I would deal with two different food service companies and compare prices. My Son is cooking at a local winery, he told be they're buying Copper River King Salmon for $35lb. I just bought some Copper River Sockeye Salmon for $9.99 lb at a local food store. I know if I owned the food service at the winery I wouldn't be buying it for $35lb. 

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