Qualities to Consider in a Foodservice Supplier Partner

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Photograph: Hatco

Partnerships are critical to a convenience store’s success. Choosing the right vendors can make all the difference in terms of the growth and long-term health of an operation. Here are some factors to consider when making a decision on a foodservice supplier.


As with any transaction, the price of a foodservice supplier extends far beyond the dollar value of a contract. The price tag also includes intangibles such as value and services. Questions to ask the supplier should include:

  • How fast do they respond to a broken machine or a service disruption?
  • Will they be available for late-night or holiday calls? How diverse is their service line?
  • When do they perform deliveries?
  • Can they go to bat for their store partners when negotiating prices?

Strong value and services can help to give a jump on the competition. Weak value and services, on the other hand, may be cheaper upfront but can also have a higher supplier cost in lost sales or downtime. It is important to know in which camp they reside.

A solid partnership also may be able to open the door to financial opportunities. For example, if a supplier demonstrates that they are a fair and respected partner, stores may be able to draw on them for financing if they start to hit a growth trajectory or face a cash shortage. Such financing may come in the form of a loan, an investment, postponed debt or generous terms on new purchases.


If there is a non-negotiable factor when teaming up with a foodservice supplier, it is quality. This can make or break an operation. A partner that offers superb quality makes a difference in the strength of a store’s product line, which affects customer service and ultimately can increase profits.

Quality includes the hidden necessities of stability and reliability. The supplier should be on solid financial footing and not at risk of going out of business. Ideally, the supplier should be well-established and well-acquainted with business cycles and the inevitable ups and downs that accompany those cycles.

Reliability also helps to influence quality. One factor that contributes to reliability is timely deliveries and service. A fast service turnaround, for example, can help to replenish inventory in a store and bolster the bottom line.

Other factors

There are other attributes a top-notch foodservice supplier should possess. For example, innovation will help to enhance new product development. Technology inevitably plays a role in how innovative a supplier is.

Knowledge is also key. A foodservice supplier should be attuned to the convenience store industry, knowledgeable about individual stores/chains and their particular needs, and be able to help grow food and product lines. Along these lines, a quality foodservice supplier should be invested in education—both in product technology and employee training. These will help to translate into a more capable partner.

Other properties that enhance the profile of a foodservice supplier are flexibility—how nimble they are in responding to a stores needs; and creativity—how well they change with the times and react to challenging situations. 

Hatco checklist

To help ensure that a foodservice supplier has the right qualifications to support a specfic convenience store, Hatco, a well-known foodservice supplier, offers a checklist that includes the following criteria of a valued partner:

  • Excellent customer service
  • Product quality
  • Order accuracy
  • Online order tracking
  • On-time shipping
  • Creative workstyle
  • Field support
  • Knowledgeable parts and service team
  • Terrific value
  • Reliable
  • Dependable

If a foodservice equipment supplier doesn’t have all these qualities, it might be time to reconsider the relationship. 

To learn more about what makes a great foodservice supplier partnership or to find out how Hatco can help your business, visit Hatco’s website at

This post is sponsored by Hatco