Are you in the restaurant business or considering getting into the restaurant business? If you are, you know that the one of the many key cogs to operating a successful establishment is the equipment that you have to help store and prepare the food you’ll be serving (not to mention intangibles like furniture and furnishings). The bottom line is that you need reliable equipment, because should there be a breakdown and the equipment goes down for a period of time, that’s likely going to lead to your inability to serve part of – if not all of – the menu that you’re offering to customers. In a worst case scenario, the restaurant might even require closing for a few days before the issue can get repaired. And if you’re not making food and serving customers, you’re losing money – not making it. And if you have to turn business away, what’s the likelihood that these customers will ever return to your establishment? Probably never.
For this reason, many business owners are somewhat reluctant to consider used restaurant equipment for their establishment. All used restaurant equipment isn’t related equal, but here’s a look at 10 tips about used equipment and why they’re almost always just as viable a solution as buying brand new:
1. Good quality: It’s widely known that as many as 3 out of every 10 new restaurants fail within the first year and up to 60 percent of all new restaurants fail within the first three years of operation. If that’s the case, the equipment needs to go somewhere – and in most cases, it is sold off to another source. Forget for a minute about where the equipment is sold off though – what’s important to get out of this tip is that there’s a surplus of gently used restaurant equipment out there for a fraction of the price of buying new. Yes, newer isn’t always better.
2. Saving money: Choosing the used over the new route is especially relevant for new restaurant owners who may have limited funds to get their operations going. While new restaurant equipment is nice, shiny and likely comes with manufacturer warranties, it’s also very expensive. Some owners just don’t have that kind of money to spend, especially when things like wages, licensing, insurance, marketing and food orders are taken into consideration. That’s where buying used equipment can really come in handy.
3. Only buy commercial: When you’re shopping used restaurant equipment, it’s important that the products you’re buying are commercial – industrial. Not only is this pretty much mandatory based on the standards of local environmental health departments, but such equipment is also easier to maintain and clean. What’s more is that this commercial-grade gear can stand up to the wear and tear of a restaurant or commercial kitchen.
4. Do your homework: Just as how some used restaurant equipment is a cut above others, certain manufacturers are as well. Know what manufacturers have a good reputation and which one’s don’t. To put this point further into perspective, if a piece of equipment is going to break down quickly and easily when bought brand new, it’s going to likely be even more of a problem used. Know the good brands from the bad.
5. Inspect the equipment: If you’re going to an auction or even a dealer that carries such equipment, be sure you give the gear in question a considerable eye test. Check for rust, missing pieces and other damage – anything to give you an idea of a) how old the equipment is, and b) how well it was cared for when it was last in use. You might even put on your reporter’s hat to find out where the piece of equipment was last used and do a tad bit of research to learn a few things about the venue. This may offer further clues on what type of item you’re possibly acquiring.
6. Warranties: You shouldn’t ever buy a new piece of restaurant equipment without a warranty. But in some cases, you might also be able to secure a warranty with a used piece of equipment. Be sure to ask about this – you might be surprised at what the answer is. Needless to say, if you purchase a used piece of equipment with a warranty, that’s even more of a win when you factor in the cost savings.
7. Make sure it’s up to current standard: Chances are if you ever got a new hot water heater, boiler or other domestic appliance installed into your home lately, someone had to come out to inspect it and make sure it was installed right and is up to current standards. That’s another important factor when purchasing used restaurant equipment – make sure whatever piece you’re interested in is up to current health and safety standards. This is especially important when you’re looking at much older, more dated equipment.
8. Go with gas: In terms of many major appliances – let alone used restaurant equipment – it’s the gas appliances that generally have fewer moving parts than other types of equipment. Hence, these appliances are much easier to troubleshoot because of this if you ever run into a pickle where something needs maintenance. When taking into consideration electrical equipment, understand that there’s usually more moving parts. This makes such equipment much more difficult to troubleshoot. Don’t buy gas equipment that hasn’t been checked – ask for a test certificate.
9. Be wary of fryers: While this post is certainly designed to champion the benefits of buying used restaurant equipment compared to new equipment, we strongly recommend doing even extra due diligence when it comes to purchasing deep fat fryers. If you’re going used, be extra certain that the fryer you’re considering has only been gently used. That’s because fryers have a high failure rate based on how the equipment works. So if you’re going used, a thorough inspection to check for leaks and any other damages is a must.
10. Know who you’re buying from: There’s a big difference between a reputable seller and one who isn’t exactly ethical, so it’s important that you know who you’re buying from when it comes to anything – let alone used restaurant equipment. That’s where Busychef Second Hand/Clearance comes in handy. They acquire a large range of catering equipment and put each item through a rigorous workshop test. Unlike other dealers, you can rest assured that any equipment purchased from Busychef is in good working condition and comes with a warranty.