Before you open a new restaurant, you need a few things. You need refrigerators, ovens, cutlery, freezers, appliances, and software. These are just a few items that are necessities. But the most important part of running a restaurant? You need equipment. Finding equipment is another step on a restaurant opening checklist but it's stressful. Making smart investments in your equipment can set your restaurant up for success, reduce unforeseen costs, and increase efficiency levels.
This article is here to help you navigate your equipment needs—helping you make the right choice while and minimize mistakes that lead to overspending (in both the short and long run).
The right equipment isn’t necessarily the newest. New equipment is expensive, and it starts depreciating the second you buy it. That means you immediately lose value on your balance sheet. So, instead, consider buying used.
When you’re buying equipment, compare prices of the new and old equipment. If the used equipment is significantly less expensive and seems well cared for, consider buying that instead. Check for rust and unreported damages. Haggle with the seller. Sometimes, used equipment is even still covered by the previous owner’s warranty, helping boost your purchase comfort. It takes more research and more risk, but you can save almost 70% by buying used over new.
Making a smart decision about your equipment is all about balance. Sometimes, cutting cost is smart (like buying used) but sometimes, it’s equivalent to cutting corners. One sacrifice you shouldn’t make for a cheaper price tag is energy efficiency.
Investing in energy efficient equipment helps save on a recurring, monthly cost: electricity. In the short run, it will cost more to invest in energy efficiency, but that investment will add up. Cutting back on the utility bill, by even the smallest margin, can help your bottom line. To add, it’s also better for environmental sustainability (yay! going green).
In our digital world, technology is a smart investment. More and more restaurants are introducing software to every aspect of the restaurant experience—both for customers and staff. There are countless restaurant POS software providers to streamline ordering and reporting. Plus, rather than the traditional punch card system, there’s also tablet software to help track employee hours.
Tablets are a great duo use tool. Why? It can house both point-of-sale software (which can include ordering, reports, etc) and it may also house time tracking software (if applicable). Buying a tablet helps save space, especially if you don't have the room to house a big point-of-sale system, increase staff efficiency between kitchen and bar staff, and cut the cost of additional a hardware purchase.
Long term maintenance of your equipment matters too. There will be inevitable upkeep: things will break, and you’ll need to fix it. However, it is possible to decrease depreciation rates. In general, purchase commercial grade equipment—it can handle heavy duty service. Also, think about material. Stainless steel, galvanized steel, aluminum, and wood are popular materials in the restaurant business.
Why? Most of these are resistant to corrosion, discoloration, and rust. Stainless steel is great for kitchen utensils, resistant to corrosion and discoloration. Galvanized steel, coated with zinc, is reliable for counters. Aluminum doesn’t burn. Research materials and spend money where it makes the most sense for your restaurant and budget.
But, the best equipment won’t survive poor care. Everyday interactions from careless staff can hurt equipment. Train your staff to clean and use the equipment properly to ensure a longer lifespan and less repairs.
Unless you’re acquiring a functional restaurant, buying restaurant equipment is an expensive, but inevitable, cost. To avoid overspending, you need to balance price and quality. The right equipment is worth the investment.
“In the labor numbers, we were reporting about a $300 to $400 difference than what we were getting through Push!”
-Tara Hardie, ZZA Hospitality Group, 16 locations