In the latest episode of Hospitality Hangout, Michael Schatzberg “The Restaurant Guy” and Jimmy Frischling “ The Finance Guy” chat with John Davie, CEO and Owner of The Buyers Edge Platform, to discuss his mission to help local restaurants, the importance of clean data, and how he is leveraging tech to help the environment.
Frischling asks Davie about his background. Davie shares that he has spent his entire career helping small, independent, local, mom-and-pop restaurants, get some of the same advantages as the larger chains. He talks about recognizing a need in the industry because smaller restaurants simply could not compete when it came to real estate, technology, software, and buying power.
Davie, along with some insights from his father, decided to “even the playing field”, by developing a company, 25 years ago, that would give those businesses the same leverages and collective buying power as the big brands. Their concept evolved into Buyers Edge Platform, which is a digital procurement network, that leverages over $2 billion in collective food spend.
The guys talk about the company’s culture and how it helped them not only navigate the pandemic but rise to a new level together as a team. Davie talks about working with his own family at Buyers Edge Platform. His father, siblings, inlaws, and cousins, make up part of the team, but the family-oriented feel extends throughout the entire company and is a key to their culture. He shares that during the pandemic, both he and his father suspended their salaries and several employees voluntarily took temporary pay cuts to protect each other and the company as a whole. Davie shares that they were able to keep nearly the entire 700-person staff employed throughout that pandemic and collectively they spent that time building tools and software to make everything they did easier from a remote scenario. Davie shares how those efforts paid off. He says, “We added over 30,000 new restaurant locations in 2020.” He adds, “Then in 2021, last year, we came roaring back and we were 50% up over pre-Covid, but it was all due to our team really seizing the moment and sacrificing, voluntarily and then over-performing tremendously, to where now the company is just more than double up, versus pre-Covid.”
When asked about the company’s efforts regarding building incentives for restaurants to use, and switch to more sustainable solutions, Davie shares that it all goes back to data and analytics. He says, “The core thing that I learned early on with trying to bring restaurants together, is that you got to have clean, normalized data to be able to do any of the cool stuff with software and really help operators, manufacturers, and distributors.” He shares that as the company has grown they have been committed to giving back and doing great things for the environment. He shares that from an ESG perspective, they are able to leverage their massive amount of data to find products that are better for the environment. He acknowledges that while eco-friendly packaging tends to be more costly, Buyers Edge Platform offers rebates and assistance to help operators make the transition away from products like styrofoam. The goal is to find eco-products that hold the food temperature better and perform better for the operator. He says, “They will hopefully see the value in going into a little more expensive packaging, that ultimately gives them a better experience for their guests, especially in the takeout and delivery space.
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