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Standards of quality must be more than just words. Product guarantees are important. After determining product specifications, you must inform your vendors of your expectations of quality and then hold them to delivering at or above those standards. During negotiation your standards should not be negotiable. Instead, the discussion should be about what the vendor must do if the agreed-upon standards aren’t met.

Common sense says that if you are delivered 60 dozen eggs and half of them are broken the vendor needs to replace them. But with some vendors, once you sign off on the invoice and the product is left in your care, it is no longer their problem. Other vendors care about how their own products are perceived and do not want restaurants serving up stale or bad products.

Another consideration is if products are continually backordered. In the negotiation, discuss what process will be used to provide you with an equal or better product (a substitution) at the same unit cost. Also discuss who will take care of getting the specified substitute for you and who has the responsibility for the cost. If the distributor made the mistake, the distributor should pay. But you must have this arrangement in writing.

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