Introducing breakfast into a QSR chain for the first time comes with a lot of unknowns. Will your customers be interested in morning meals from your brand? Will your price points be attractive enough for repeat business? Are you offering something unique enough to lure in customers from the competition? With so much focus falling on the operational side of your early-morning expansion plans, don't neglect your best ally for breakfast success in the QSR industry: your supply chain.
Here are procurement tips to start your mornings with a lucrative bang.
Can Procurement Cut Down on Prep?
When evening staff is already engaged with cleanup and closeout, your morning staff is left with very little time the next day to get breakfast items prepped and ready. That means that whatever time you are able to shave off by partnering with smart packaging is time that can be spent making your morning run smoothly at store level. When discussing your needs with breakfast suppliers, be sure to ask about protective or prep packaging that could double as serving packaging, such as yogurt cups that lend themselves to spoon attachments. Additionally, don't assume that all supply chain methods are created equal. If you're dealing in bruise-and-damage-prone items like eggs or whole fruit, the shorter and smoother the ride, the better. Even small issues can compromise food products. A short truck ride across the Rocky Mountains can subject cargo to enough atmospheric pressure to pop some chip bags and leave the contents S.O.A. (stale on arrival).
Where Do I Fall as a Priority?
While hardly a woe confined to breakfast orders alone, knowing where you stand with your suppliers is crucial as your breakfast market share grows. Smaller, specialized chains can't realistically hope for the attention and consideration demanded by nationwide peers, but even middle of the pecking order is better than the bottom. If your outlook for in-demand items looks shaky, try partnering with specialty suppliers. You might be securing a temporary fix or building a business partnership that will strengthen your supply chain for years, but either way, it puts you in a position to coax in new customers and establish brand loyalty habits for your early morning daypart. This also gives you enviable access to guide future ingredient availability. Contracting with a private grower for avocados, for example, will ensure easy—and, more importantly, exclusive—access later on, when the crop ripens.
Can My Suppliers Grow With Me?
The flip side of reaching out to smaller producers is that you'll need to ensure some measure of scalability in the process. A small mom-and-pop farm is unlikely to expand to a level that would provide nationwide-chain volume, but a smaller wholesaler might. The best way to minimize growing pains is communication: never be afraid to reach out to your suppliers and discuss potential future moves before they happen. Not only will this illuminate potential speed bumps to avoid, it will also keep your needs from catching their production workflows off guard. A disrupted food supplier is a slow food supplier, and that's a pace that won't keep up with your early morning customers. Part of this scalability assessment is determining if your suppliers are agile enough to serve you in troubled times, as well.
There are more than a few similarities between food service supply chains and retail. Just as customers still expect their favorite meals or products despite component shortages worldwide, you should feel comfortable that your suppliers will proactively work to fill in potential gaps in supply. This problem-solving shares the burden, rather than placing it entirely on your procurement team in a crisis.
Whether your brand is a "morning person" or not, one thing is certain: poor supply chain planning in the QSR industry can leave a bad taste—literally—in your customer's mouths for the remainder of the day. Give them a reason to return throughout the day by using these tips to get your supply chain in shape to take on the morning at its best.