Upgrading your restaurant equipment can be quite costly unless you plan ahead and look for deals. Even if equipment is still working, you might want to upgrade to something that is more efficient or has more bells and whistles. It doesn’t always have to cost a ton to upgrade – this is where planning ahead comes in.
Create a budget and a separate account to be used only for equipment upgrades. The budget will tell you how much to deposit into that account every week or every month. While you may not have 100 percent of the money you need when it is time to upgrade, you’ll have a good portion of it.
Rotate equipment. Don’t upgrade all in the same year, or you’ll be stuck upgrading everything at the same time next time. Instead, pick one or two pieces per year, if you can, and upgrade those pieces. If you bought a restaurant that has a mix of old and new equipment, upgrade the oldest equipment first – of course, after upgrading anything that doesn’t work and cannot be fixed. Keep a list of what was upgraded and when so you remember what you upgraded first, and you’ll know where to start when it’s time to get new equipment again. If you found a great deal on a piece of equipment, write down the name of the place you found it so you can check it next time.
Don’t assume that because you want a certain brand that you have to go to that manufacturer. You can find equipment in many ways. The Internet has opened a lot of doors when it comes to finding equipment for cut-rate prices; however, be careful of freight. While a price may be hundreds cheaper at XYZ store, that store may charge enough freight to make the equipment equal in price (or even more expensive) than if you were to buy it at ABC store. Keep your eyes and ears open for businesses that are closing. Often, you can find “gently used” kitchen equipment when a restaurant goes out of business. Also check restaurant supply stores that do not necessarily advertise heavy-duty kitchen equipment. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, there’s a good chance that they will know of a restaurant selling out or can recommend a commercial supplier that has excellent prices.
If you are able to plan ahead for upcoming upgrades, start looking for sales on equipment or for restaurants going out of business. Since you planned an upgrade, the equipment you are upgrading will last a month or two so that you can take your time finding a great deal or have time to wait while a closed restaurant finalizes its issues.
If you are buying new equipment, you might spend extra for something with a better warranty. While it may cost you a couple hundred extra now, this could save you money in the long run. If you are buying used equipment, check the warranty – you may find something that has a warranty that transfers to the new owner, especially if you are buying something that is only a couple of years old.
Creating a Long-Term Plan
By using a combination of saving and planning ahead, you could save yourself thousands of dollars each year, and you will have new equipment when you need it. Creating a long-term plan also keeps you from encountering any surprises. Checking for sales, watching for restaurants closing, keeping a separate savings account and budget for equipment, and upgrading a few pieces each year or two will not only save you money, but it will save you headaches and ensures that you have up-to-date, working equipment at all times.
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Source: RunningRestaurants.com; by Ezra Adler