Features

Francisco Moya – Buyers Edge Platform

Using data to serve up savings

Twenty years ago, independent restaurants that sourced their goods from large distributors (think Sysco and US Foods) didn’t have much clout when it came to cost savings. As prices for products fluctuated, restaurants had two choices: find savings elsewhere, or use a different vendor altogether.

John Davie had a better idea. Bringing together several restaurants in and around Rochester, New York, he created a group purchasing organization (GPO) that would negotiate lower prices by consolidating buying power. The restaurants got better deals, manufacturers got more business and Davie’s company—Dining Alliance—flourished.

Francisco Moya – Buyers Edge Platform

Today, John Davie is the CEO of Buyers Edge Platform (BEP), a data -driven food service supply chain, contracting and purchasing partner, and one of the largest food service GPOs in the country, with over 45,000 clients, $9.5 billion in buying power and more than 165,000 line item contract pricing deals from over 350 top manufacturers—everything from frozen French fries to the fryers that cook them.

That’s a whole lot of data to manage—and Chief Technology Officer Francisco Moya, who started with the company nine years ago as a Java software developer, is right in the thick of it.

All in one place

The goal, Moya says, is to leverage technology to make it easier for customers and partners of Buyers Edge Platform to gain insight from their purchasing data.

Together with his team, Moya created software that allows users to do centralized ordering, improve contract management, manage national supply chain inventories, and so on.

No small feat in an industry that tends to lag behind the IT curve.

“Information is power and technology is our tool,” Moya says. “By standardizing the data and putting it one place, we can offer tools like our Price Trend Report widget that lets our customers see how the price of the products they are purchasing are trending through the year as compared to the previous period. Then they can use that information to change products, menus or even recipes if they find a different product that will yield more profit to their business. Nothing like this has ever existed before.”

Making cents

The biggest boon to creating more uniform data sets is on the cost-savings front. In many cases, Buyers Edge Platform negotiates with manufacturers on rebates for products (say, $1.50 on every case of frozen fries).

Francisco Moya – Buyers Edge Platform

By gathering data on how many cases each restaurant buys, BEP is able to bill the manufacturer every quarter and distribute the rebates directly to customers—saving them time and money.

BEP also provides a price verification service to ensure that the prices being charged by distributors are what they should be, based on what’s in the contract. If a restaurant pays more than the determined price ($36.50 for a case of mayonnaise instead of $34.50, for instance), BEP will work with the distributor to have credits issued to the restaurant.

“Because of us collecting and cleaning all this data, we now can help operators have a clear picture of everything they are buying,” Moya says. “They can visualize all this data in real time using our Business Intelligence tools and dashboards in any way they want: by category, by manufacturer, by distributor. We are bringing transparency and visibility to their business.”

What’s more, Moya’s team has created features that allow customers to see data from different regions: purchasing trends, cost savings, the status of specific contracts, and so on. That could prove particularly useful for large restaurant chains, by helping them compare and contrast location performance based on specific metrics.

Fine-tuning

Not that there haven’t been challenges. For Moya, two come immediately to mind: scaling software and infrastructure to handle $9.5 billion in annual transactions, more than four times what the company was doing in 2015; and sourcing enough talent to ensure those tools remain sharp.

To tackle the first issue, Moya and his team moved the company’s massive infrastructure to the cloud, an initiative that he says created greater flexibility, cost savings and—most crucially—data security while maintaining and improving the system’s codebase.

Francisco Moya – Buyers Edge Platform

To stay staffed, Moya is spearheading efforts to onboard additional coders, programmers and other IT experts—many of them from Lima, Peru, where, in 2016, he co-founded TechStart, a remote boutique staffing firm to keep up with the hiring demands of Buyers Edge Platform.

If a TechStart customer needs to add people to their technical team—or if they’re struggling to find the right person locally and they don’t like the idea of bringing in an outsourcing firm—TechStart will send the job descriptions to their head-hunting team in Lima. Once there’s a batch of pre-filtered promising candidates, the company sends those applications to the customer for vetting.

“We started doing this internally because nobody in the team liked the idea of bringing in an outsourcing company and we quickly realized that the model worked really well,” Moya explains. “We have found extremely qualified people with experience working for companies like IBM or Verizon, so now we’re doing it for external customers as well.”

Looking ahead, Moya says the goal is to leverage data in such a way that all stakeholders—from independent restaurants to multinational manufacturers—can benefit.

“Even if a commodity rises in price by a few cents, that can have an impact on your business,” Moya says. “Our tools are designed to let you know with enough time that you can react and lessen that impact.”

Published on: November 13, 2019

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