When it comes to buying restaurant equipment, many factors play a role in the decision-making process. Often, these factors are interrelated with each other so as a restaurant owner; you need to maintain a macro and micro view. Here are a few things to consider ensuring that your equipment doesn’t become a liability down the road.
Choosing the right equipment involves research, reading reviews, and consulting with experts or current users. It also means collaborating with your team, especially your executive chef. And before you can even begin to add appliances to your cart, you need to ensure that your kitchen plan follows code, is large enough to handle your customers’ orders effectively and efficiently, and that it can fit all your equipment needs. You don’t necessarily need to Feng Shui your kitchen, but you do need to ensure that your kitchen is capable of handling your menu demands and maintaining a seamless flow during each shift, regardless of how full your restaurant is.
You’ll need work tables, cooking stations, and refrigeration space; storage, dish washing, and prep areas. Before you purchase anything, think about the layout of your kitchen and if your chef and cooks will be able to get what they need when they need it while addressing the needs of all your menu preparation requirements.
Once you’ve established your usage, layout, and equipment needs for your kitchen, now you can begin looking for the right appliances, and to decide whether you want new or used equipment. Because you more than likely don’t have an unlimited budget, you will probably purchase a mix of new and used equipment.
Used equipment is easier on your wallet, but won’t give you the same security and warranties as purchasing new. It’s harder to get a refund if something goes awry, and equipment might already have some wear and tear. Buying used, therefore, means that you’ll need to do a lot of research before you make your purchase. Explore how long each used piece normally lasts, and how long the particular piece was used before being put back on the market. Ensure that the model doesn’t have a defect that could cause it to malfunction just when you need it most. Alternatives for cheaper new equipment include appliances that have cosmetic flaws and overstocked products.
The more complex the equipment the more you’ll need to be careful when you go to buy. Electrical cooking equipment is more efficient than gas, but their components are more complicated and may mean more expensive repairs.
Also keep in mind how crucial each piece is to your operations. What can you survive without for a few days while repairs happen, and what would shut you down if it quit working? The more critical the piece, the more you’ll want to spend the extra dollar to buy something extra reliable. And then some equipment is fine to simple lease, like dishwashers and ice makers. But, of course, figure out what will be most cost effective in the long term.
Don’t forget to factor in the costs of repairs, maintenance, and utilities. Older equipment will require more repairs and maintenance, and might even need special-ordered parts. Each piece of equipment will use different amount of water, power, and gas. All of this needs to be thought out before you buy.
Regardless of buying new or used, the condition of the equipment and the credibility of the seller are paramount. In addition, having a dependable and talented repair person on call to inspect and repair your equipment is equally important. And, of course, test out all equipment before using it for customers.