We know many operators may be experiencing delivery issues with Master Food Distributors (MFDs) due to continued labor shortages, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 Delta variant. There is little that employers can do about unpredictable absenteeism or to create workarounds when it happens. Unfortunately, as a result, some MFD deliveries continue to miss regular delivery windows or are being pushed to the following day.
In addition to labor shortages, manufacturer product shortages continue to be a challenge. Fill rates into distribution are at historically low levels, which creates the need to substitute, or if there are outages, creates the need to buy from other distributors.
While you face these unprecedented challenges, below are some recommended best practices to help improve the short-term situation for both your business and your trusted distributors:
Communicate your forecasted demand – especially for busy upcoming weeks – to your distributor account representatives or hospitality suppliers so they can assist in planning.
Order early, ideally before 10 am on the day prior to your scheduled delivery day. Placing orders early will reduce the likelihood of service delays.
- Be prepared for the possibility that your distributor may implement other measures to help ensure the highest possible level of service. This may include earlier cut-off times or other restrictions, like requesting smaller orders than usual or changing delivery days.
Manage inventory within your location
- Avoid having critical items delivered for next day events; instead, try to order 3-4 days ahead of time.
- If possible, keep 2-4 days of additional inventory on your shelves in anticipation of any service disruptions.
Balance your orders: A light order (50 cases) on Tuesday and a heavy order (150 cases) on Friday create load challenges. Try to keep your order volume consistent.
Consider changing your delivery day or time to a window that will result in higher on-time service (consult with your MFD representative on options, including key/night drops) and do your best to refrain from off-day deliveries to ensure higher service levels.
Consider placing multiple (2-3) orders instead of one large monthly housekeeping and chemical ‘replenishment’ order to reduce one-time large deliveries that strain operations.
Know your delivery schedule – order for deliveries to be made on your routed day. Off-day deliveries present a challenge by interrupting the planned scheduled route.
If your order is delayed, your master food distributor will notify you as soon as possible and will attempt to re-route the delivery for the next day.
For holidays, make sure to place your large orders early in the week prior to the start of the holiday.
As always, make sure to constantly communicate with your distributors to stay ahead of potential delays and disruptions. At Avendra, we are evaluating adding additional contracted distributors and identifying substitutes for manufacturing shortages. After the healthcare industry, our distributors have prioritized Avendra customers and resigning some businesses to service strategic customers. We continue to stay on top of these supply chain challenges during these extraordinary circumstances and share best practices.