Cuckoo for Costco: How Hospitality Businesses Can Best Utilize the Superstore
by Jillian Straw
As a hospitality pro, your favorite part of the job probably isn’t shopping. But it’s a necessary evil to provide the right experience for your customers and clientele. Every detail matters: from intricate designs on a restaurant’s flatware to the right thread count on a hotel’s bed sheets to the floral arrangements in the lobby: it all creates ambiance that helps set your brand apart.
Part of the work of maintaining a hospitality brand is putting the right inputs into the equation. Part of that quality control is maintaining vendor relationships, but sometimes, you don’t always have a comfortable amount of lead time before you need new supplies.
Recent reporting from the Wall Street Journal found that New York City restaurateurs are facing supply chain struggles with their usual suppliers and can no longer find the flatware, appliances, and even some ingredients to run business as usual.
Sometimes you just need to improvise in order to get the job done. You need a place where you can buy mass quantities of food if farmers can’t provide it. You need somewhere you can easily pick up a commercial ceramic burner if your stove top is on the fritz. You need to be able to print the breakfast menu when you just can’t get the back office printer to connect to WiFi. (QR codes? Those are so 2020.)
Your saving grace is a spot called Costco. Heard of it?
Spoiler alert: For in-store transactions, Costco only accepts Visa cards like the Plate IQ Card. Check it out today, and move all your petty cash and expenses onto a system designed to help hospitality manage their spend.
What are the benefits of doing my business shopping at Costco?
We realize that the suggestion of shopping at Costco isn’t exactly revolutionary; it’s a household name that you might already use for your personal shopping trips, to feed a big family or plan parties. But the benefits for businesses go beyond the availability of affordable, premium vodka distilled from the same source as Grey Goose and a giant container of addictive sea salt caramels.
Let us introduce you to the Costco Business Center, which almost feels tailor-made for hospitality businesses. Here’s why it can make your shopping trips and unexpected errands easier:
It’s open at 7 a.m.
Regular Costco locations open at 10 a.m. during the week. Think about how large the store is, then how much you usually need to buy when running errands for your business. You could easily spend an hour just trying to find a couple of items in the Costco aisles—which would get you back to work after 11 a.m., a common check-out time at hotels, tee time at country clubs, and lunch opening hours for restaurants.
The extra three hours of padding at the start of the day help you get in and out and back to business at the time you need to be there.
It has a lot of food and drinks
And by “a lot,” we mean even in comparison to regular Costco locations—nearly 70 percent of the items in a Business Center aren’t available in the traditional store model.
Forty-pound bags of Idaho potatoes. Five pounds of black pepper. Huge quantities of specialty drinks (we’ll take a case of Jarritos Pineapple, please). Boxes of candy so big that you could stock a movie theater or minibar with snacks for months. A freezer selection so vast that the store provides you with a jacket so you don’t catch a chill as you browse.
When it comes to mass quantities of pantry basics and pre-packaged goodies, the Costco Business Center is a no-brainer.
It has commercial-grade appliances
Your local supplier might not be able to source a new fryer for you, and the restaurant supply store a few miles away might be on backorder. The Costco Business Center could likely come through instead.
They stock commercial burners, sinks, fryers, mixers, and more, so food-focused hospitality businesses have all the appliances they need to make a lot of delicious food. Other big box stores simply don’t stock these items in-store—you’d have to wait for them to be delivered before you could see the specs for yourself.
It offers delivery by the truckload
A forty-pound bag of potatoes, a commercial fryer, and a case of Jarritos Pineapple aren’t going to fit in your SUV. (Thanks for picking that case up for us, though!) But the Costco Business Center offers a delivery service that matches the size of the products they sell.
As long as you provide a business address near the Business Center, these locations will deliver semi-sized purchases to your door. Just don’t let your US Foods driver get too jealous of the big loads.
It has an on-site print center
You can stop invoking Office Space every time you try to print a menu now. You’re just a person trying to run a business, not an IT professional who can troubleshoot a piece of hardware you’ve never even owned.
Leave it to the experts at Costco Business Printing to handle your paper goods, from menus and business cards to brochures and banners.
What credit cards does Costco accept?
When you’re short on time and budget, a superstore like this is your best bet for finding must-have items that can make or break a business day. But buyers, beware: before you commit to Costco, consider the business credit card you carry. Though the company will take a variety of credit cards online, only cards issued by Visa are accepted in stores—when purchases are most pressing.
Costco accepts other forms of payment, like cash, checks, and debit cards, so you aren’t left in the lurch at checkout. But we really think you should be using a Visa-issued credit card like the Plate IQ Card instead.
Why should I use the Plate IQ Card at Costco?
For one thing, for the very simple reason that Costco only accepts Visa cards such as The Plate IQ Card. Plus, the Plate IQ card helps you control spend for every employee. You can issue as many cards as you’d like and restrict each to certain thresholds or specific Merchant Category Codes. You can even have a card that’s designated to only be used at Costco! Plus, it offers you the opportunity to earn up to 1% cash back on all purchases. In an industry where margins are slim, every dollar back matters.
But you don’t have to meet specific account minimums or top a specific yearly revenue in order to get business account benefits with the Plate IQ Card. No matter how large or small your business is, you’re already pre-approved.
Costco Business Centers and the Plate IQ Card are a match made in hospitality heaven. Start shopping smarter today.
Jillian Straw writes for Plate IQ, covering technology in the hospitality industry from a background in restaurants and operations management.
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