Are you starting your own catering business, or perhaps upgrading your existing restaurant kitchen? There are a few things you need to avoid when purchasing or renting new equipment. We’ve compiled a list for you!
Avoid buying brand-new equipment
Just like buying a new car – the minute you leave the showroom, the value of your shiny new toy plummets. If you’ve got a particular penchant for the smell of a brand-new bain-marie (or BMW) and devaluation is not an issue, then by all means, buy new. If, like many business owners, you’re wanting to minimise your spending and avoid over-capitalising and drowning yourself in debt – renting or purchasing used equipment can be a much more financially prudent decision to make.
Rust, wear and tear
If you’re attending an equipment auction, you’ve got the opportunity to score yourself a bargain. There are however, hidden traps in buying used equipment. As you’re unlikely to get a chance to try out the merchandise, it helps to know what to look for when you’re browsing the auction aisles. Is there any visible rust creeping around – take a peek inside the equipment where possible. Keep an eye out for visible signs of wear and tear such as scrapes and scratches, missing switches or controls and frayed electrical wires. Those pieces which are showing obvious signs of wear and tear could be hiding more sinister problems. On the other hand, if the equipment comes with the remainder of its warranty, you may be covered for major failures – be sure to check on that!
Servicing and/or cleaning services
If you’re really watching your pennies (better spent on your food and beverage orders!) you may consider renting your kitchen equipment. This can save you a considerable amount of cash upfront, however be aware of the policies attached to your rental equipment. How often does your rental agency clean or service the equipment? Is it quality product, or has it been around the ringer a few times with the disgruntled chef from its last commercial home? Failing equipment can cost you a lot more than just time, if it breaks down on you in the middle of service. Shop around for a reputable rental service who look after their equipment!
Have you considered the overall cost of renting your equipment versus buying it new or second-hand? While renting equipment can save you a packet of cash up-front, does it end up costing you more in the long term? Almost certainly – that’s the trade-off when renting. If you’re more concerned with your yearly turnover than your immediate outlay, consider whether buying equipment is a smarter choice for you. If you’ve got the capital, you can save yourself a lot in the long-run.
How long is the lease term? This is an important question to consider when renting equipment for your kitchen. The last thing you need, especially as a new business, is an enormous lease term that, worst coming to worst, outlives your operation. If you’ve never run a commercial kitchen before, you may want to be a little weary of long-term commitment.
Have you done the measurements?
Running a commercial kitchen requires a LOT of equipment. When you’re out with your newly-minted business credit card, don’t get carried away by all of the shiny dishwashers, coffee machines and cookers. Know the dimensions you’ve got to work with, and ensure that you’re running a tally as you fill the shopping cart (or truck, as the case may be). You’re unlikely to have a lot of room to play with, considering the size of the equipment you need – and then you’ve still got the fit in the chef and his ego team as well. Drawing up a bit of a floor plan can be a good strategy when looking for new equipment, and ensure that all of the pieces fit the puzzle before committing.
Overspending – Know your limits
Do you have an overall budget for your equipment, as well as a detailed list of what you need? If not, you’d better get back to the drawing board before you head out with your chequebook. Know whether you’re willing to sacrifice on the coffee machine for a bigger pizza oven. Ensure that you have your priorities sorted before you start spending those life savings of yours!
Fitting out a commercial kitchen and filling it with equipment is an enormous (and expensive) task. Now that you’ve got the know-how, go forth with confidence and secure that shiny new 8-burner stove…and the rest!