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Smallware & Supply Procurement Procedure and Buying Strategy

Smallwares and supplies are generally purchased infrequently and the expenditures for this category can drastically increase if there are no controls in place. With out controls, expect the average product cost to be from 10-30% higher than necessary. Infrequent buying is not a rationalization for poor buying decisions. The savings can add up to thousands per year depending on the size of your operation.

A minimum amount of research and planning can go along way to reduce costs.

First, rank products in terms of usage. This list may be ranked and categorized as follows:

  1. Chemicals & Disposables
  2. Glassware
  3. Flatware
  4. China
  5. Miscellaneous Tabletop (salt & Pepper etc.)
  6. Miscellaneous Kitchen & Bar Supply

The most crucial and difficult part of this is specifying. When specifying always use the manufacturer brand and factory model number. This will standardize and identify your product requirements and help you to avoid paying a higher price for less than expected quality. It will also make it easier for the DSR to source and avoid errors by ordering and shipping the wrong item. Obtain this information from existing product packaging or previous invoices. If you do not have a specification, do the necessary research to obtain it. Remember the important control is to have this information available before buying. If a substitute is proposed, which it will, scrutinize that item by getting a sample. A substitute may not work if the product must stack with existing product. The most difficult specification to identify will be category#6 but it is also the least significant, ranked at the bottom of the usage list.

With the brand and model number, competitive pricing can easily be checked on the internet.  Example: The brand and model number of a 10” fiberglass tray keyed into a search engine immediately displays $71.82, 77.76 and 82.52 per dozen, a 14.6% pricing difference. Freight is always a factor so be sure to require a delivered prices.

Finally, review product availability and return policies with all potential suppliers. These items must be on hand for immediate delivery. If not, inventory should be kept on hand or anticipated to allow for lead times. Work with your local E&S or Broadline distributor and insist on a delivered price to simplify price comparison. Maintain an inventory list with the last cost paid. Use this indicator for future orders and look for it to remain stable for one full year.

Obtain equipment recommendations, sourcing, and basic information to help you qualify your buying decision by going to