"We buy 10 million pounds a year of just one product," says Kathleen Wood, COO of Raising Cane's, a 43-unit regional chain based in Baton Rouge. "When you have a single menu item, it's very important to have a great vendor-partner relationship," Wood explains. "It's critical to keeping our supply chain moving efficiently and safely."
Here are Wood's recommendations for forging loyal and profitable vendor partnerships:
Establish a shared vision
Wood invited her vendors to spend time at corporate headquarters and in several store locations to achieve absolute clarity on Raising Cane's product specs and quality expectations.
Communicate growth priorities
Through on-site visits, weekly conference calls and constant e-mails, vendors and distributors keep in touch with the purchasing team to stay ahead of the production curve and keep up with expansion plans. Raising Cane's gets suppliers involved in R&D, testing products in the chain's facilities and providing input on best practices.
Create strategic relationships
Being involved from the concept's inception, vendors fully understand that they are in the strategic development business, not just the commodity business. "Our supplier partnerships provide stability and consistency. That inspires confidence in our franchisees, managers and investors."