It is stressful to make large capital investments for your restaurant. It is essential that every purchase you make for your restaurant be a profitable investment. But how can you determine the return on your investment? What happens if you make a bad decision? Nothing is more stressful than buying restaurant equipment. It is a major financial investment. However, your staff’s daily service and efficiency are affected by your equipment.
You are looking for new restaurant equipment or just one new one, it is time to think about how you approach suppliers of restaurant equipment. How can you narrow down what equipment you are looking for? How can you ensure your investment lasts?
These are some steps to take when narrowing down your options and working directly with restaurant equipment suppliers.
Choose between new and used.
When working with equipment suppliers for restaurants, it may seem tempting to save some money and opt for used items over new ones. However, used equipment can break down more frequently, which could not only increase your costs but also slow down your kitchen’s ability to provide the best possible experience for your guests. This results in frustrated kitchen staff and unhappy guests. It also likely means that your front-of-the-house staff will not be very happy. Equipment that is older will also be less likely to comply with local building, fire, and health codes.
A warranty is not always included with used equipment. You might be offered a great deal by a restaurant equipment supplier, but what if the equipment isn’t covered under warranty?
A new piece of equipment may be more costly upfront. However, if you have a good maintenance plan, warranty and are able to avoid having to pay down for repairs and maintenance, it could save you money over the long term. Keep in mind the energy efficiency rating of your restaurant equipment supply. Newer models are often more efficient than older models due to better technology and increased customer demand. This efficiency can not only make your restaurant greener but also reduce your utility bills.
Even though you need to be cautious when purchasing used equipment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the equipment is inherently outdated or a poor investment. There is often plenty of gently used and nearly-new commercial kitchen equipment available for sale because so many restaurants close within one year of opening. Also, a used piece of restaurant equipment is less likely to depreciate than a new unit.
Giving gently used equipment home is an additional way to be eco-friendly. It’s fewer appliances going to the dump. It is significant to ensure that gently used equipment has a maintenance plan and that it is still under warranty.
Ask for advice.
Do not discount the power of your peers. Although they may be your competition, friendly competition can also mean building professional relationships and interacting with other restaurant owners. Asking fellow restaurant owners for their advice on the business’s day-to-day operations and suppliers is a good idea. Open questions are fine, but it is best to bring specific suppliers with you.
Visit trade shows.
Once you have started to research potential suppliers, trade shows in the restaurant industry can be a great way to meet them face-to-face. Trade shows give you the opportunity to meet multiple suppliers in one day. You can chat with them casually and make connections.
It’s meaningful not to walk on the trade show floor without a plan. The salespeople have their displays set up to draw people in and amaze them. You might be tempted to buy something that isn’t right for your restaurant if you don’t do any research before you go to the trade show.
If you meet a vendor of new equipment, whether at a trade show or scheduled meeting, be ready to ask questions such as:
- Do you offer maintenance plans for your customers?
- Are you able to offer warranties?
- Are these models available with add-on equipment
- What cleaning routine should you use for your models?
- What models come with ENERGY START (r) certification (for efficiency in energy use)?
How about changing suppliers?
Let’s suppose you have been in business for a while and need equipment. You don’t always have to use the same equipment supplier, whether you are replacing an old unit or purchasing additional units. There are always new things. Perhaps your supplier relationship has been great for many years but they don’t have the latest equipment that you need. It’s best, to be honest, and polite when you cut ties with a supplier that isn’t the right one for your current needs. Although it is not something that anyone likes to lose business, it can do a lot of good for your reputation if the supplier is clear and tactful in explaining why they won’t continue business with you instead of ghosting them.