To understand the dos and don’ts when selling to restaurants, Local Line interviewed executive chef of B hospitality, Aaron Clyne. Aaron is an expert in purchasing from local farms. He’s spent years developing his relationships, and has helped us create a list of the main things to avoid, and the things you have to get right if you want to make it when selling to chefs!
Here is his list of dos and don’ts:
Do make appointments, don’t show up unexpected
Restaurants are extremely busy, especially during service time. The chef will have no time to meet with you and therefore will not be able to give a fair assessment of your product. Be respectful of their time and call ahead. Making an appointment will increase the probability of selling your product, as the chef can be focused on what you are offering them.
Do be proud, don’t be pretentious
Every farmer or food producer should be extremely proud of their harvest or product. It takes a lot of work to be able to produce, however there is a difference between being excited and proud of your product versus being pretentious. If you are excited about your product, the chef will be too. They want to create a dish that will showcase the beauty of your product and want to share that excitement with the diner.
It is important that you don’t put down other local food producers. This is a red flag for chefs. Local food is already in competition with large corporations, so there is no need to create competition between colleagues. Instead of bashing on other products, let the quality of yours speak for itself.
Do be persistent, don’t be clingy
Note that no means no. If a deal does not seem to work out, it is important to realize that and move on. If it was not a good fit for the chef, it probably was not a good fit for you. If you had a great initial conversation and there is promise for a partnership, follow up, however make sure you give them space.
Do something memorable, don’t show just any product
Chefs get many calls a day from suppliers wanting to sell them their products. Make sure to stick out from the crowd. Offer to send them a sample, invite them to your farm or show them how the product is produced. Tell them the story of your product. This way chefs will remember you and your product, and put you higher on the list of possible suppliers. Make sure to think about what you are showing them and pick a product that showcases your farm or business.
The most important point Aaron emphasized, is to remember that selling to chefs are relationships. If you respect their business and are open to dialogue, they will be too. Understand how their business works and how your business plays into that. The better the relationship between each other, the longer and more successful the partnership will be for both of you. If you haven’t already read the first part to this series, check out this blog.