Restaurants across the nation are dealing with a variety of complex issues as they transition from a successful summer of outdoor dining to the realities of limited-capacity, indoor dining during the winter.
From the very onset of the pandemic, Sysco, the nation’s leading broadline distributor, has taken the initiative to collaborate with restaurants and the foodservice community to find immediate solutions to support their business. Most recently, the Houston, TX based distributor announced it would eliminate minimum order size requirements with the goal of further supporting the industry as it battles its way through these unprecedented times.
“We understand that restaurant operators have had to significantly change how they operate during the pandemic,” said Greg Keller, Senior Vice President of Sales and Chief Customer Officer. “Eliminating minimum delivery requirements removes one more worry for restaurant operators, providing significant flexibility in managing their business and making it easier to get what they need, when they need it.”
The elimination of minimum delivery size requirements for customers’ regularly scheduled delivery days is part of the company’s “Restaurants Rising” campaign. This change went into effect in November for all Sysco U.S. Broadline, FreshPoint, Buckhead Meat and Newport Meat customers.
While this change is applicable to both large and small customers, it is especially helpful to independent restaurant operators planning for potential changes in demand and COVID-19 restrictions during the winter months ahead.
“From the beginning of the pandemic, our goal has been to work side by side with our customers every step of the way,” Keller continued. “Throughout the year, Sysco has supported restaurants in making changes to their business, such as converting dining rooms to pop-up grocery markets early in the pandemic or establishing takeout and delivery service.” They have also helped restaurants revamp and streamline their menus and designed QR codes to create a touchless menu experience.
“The goal of the Restaurants Rising campaign was to make it easier for restaurants to succeed and strengthen their business for the future,” Keller said.
Under the Restaurants Rising umbrella, Sysco also offers value-added services and strategic partnership discounts for current and new customers. Combined with the company’s world-class sales team, operators have access to a truly unique set of tools. “Many of our sales associates come from culinary backgrounds and really understand the needs of the restaurant foodservice customers.
Among Sysco’s value-added services are free marketing restaurant tools. Restaurants need to promote their business more than ever before and Sysco’s team can design marketing solutions such as banners and posters that can be printed locally.
The company also offers discounts on solutions and services with third-party providers, such as delivery, mobile ordering and menu services. “Our program includes special discounts for mobile ordering and delivery fees with Uber Eats,” added Keller. The creative distributor with any eye towards putting itself in its customers’ shoes has also introduced an option for easy credit card payment to provides convenience for both existing and new customers. New customers can onboard in less than 24 hours and start to take advantage of these services and discounts.
Another vital value-added service is Sysco’s Foodie Solutions toolkits, which offers a curated collection of industry best practices, easy-to-use templates and exclusive, chef-tested products. Keller added, “We have been able to pull from the expertise of the thousands of operators we work with to create strategies that are simple to implement.”
These toolkits address a variety of topics to support restaurant operators where they are. The Holiday Toolkit offers innovative ideas to generate additional revenue and provide guests with restaurant quality solutions for easy gift-giving and holiday meals. Ideas include unique takeout offerings, such as charcuterie and cheese boards with wine pairings, take-and-make meal kits paired with a virtual cooking class, cocktail kits and pies to-go.
The Virtual Kitchens Toolkit includes recommendations for serving customers solely through online and phone orders without a brick-and-mortar concept or dining room. The Grab & Go Foods guide discusses best practices in pre-made meals and signature dishes. With many operators now offering Family Style Meal Kits, there is a toolkit offering solutions to help customers save time and enjoy an at home experience.
“Together, we will get through these difficult days, and we will all succeed by growing together,” said Keller.
Sysco is the global leader in selling, marketing and distributing food products to restaurants, healthcare and educational facilities, lodging establishments and other customers who prepare meals away from home. Its family of products also includes equipment and supplies for the foodservice and hospitality industries. With more than 57,000 associates, the company operates 326 distribution facilities worldwide and serves more than 625,000 customer locations.