Plan For Problems Before You Open Your Restaurant
The problems restaurants face during openings are endless. A number of restaurants that have recently opened are now experiencing problems with some of their brand new equipment. While this is a big problem, it is not as bad as it could have been. When opening a new restaurant, you need to plan for equipment problems far in advance of even the purchase and installation process. Buying equipment is a lot like buying a new car. You need to put a few miles on it before you know what adjustments need to be made in order to achieve peak performance.
Here are a few of the guidelines you should follow when purchasing equipment for your restaurant:
Buy Your Equipment from a Reputable Dealer
Do not choose a dealer just because they are close by. Many restaurants purchase their equipment from dealers outside their state. Have the dealers bid on the equipment and installation. Also, contact a number of the dealer’s previous customers to ensure they were happy with the dealer and that the dealer stood by them when equipment went down.
The Equipment Dealer Must Also be Responsible for the Equipment Installation
The biggest problem that restaurants run into during openings is not that the equipment breaks down – but rather, who is going to be responsible for the repair? It is common that when the equipment is purchased from one company and the installation is purchased from a second company, nobody takes responsibility for equipment that is down. The installer says the piece of equipment is bad and the dealer says that it is the way it was installed.
Make it a requirement during the bidding process that any company that wants to sell you equipment must also install or be responsible for the installation. This way, you will have a single contact for any equipment problem that may come up.
Bid the Kitchen Drawings Out Separately
Equipment dealers often tell you if you buy your equipment through them, they will give you the kitchen design for free. Although that may sound like a great deal, it is better to pay for the drawings separately. Have the kitchen design company or equipment dealer doing the drawings put together the bid packages. And, inform them up-front that if the entire job (design and equipment) is awarded to the same company you will expect them to give you a discount of 50% off the drawings.
Test Drive Your New Equipment
Finally, set aside a day or two well in advance of the restaurant opening that is dedicated to testing and calibrating your new equipment. Not only can this prevent some problems once your restaurant is open to the public, it will also give your chef(s) an opportunity to “test drive” the equipment, determine reasonable production times and check the quality and appearance of the typical menu items you will be serving.
Finally, if a restaurant is going to fail, it will fail six months to one year prior to opening! Not planning for equipment problems and who is going to fix that equipment can hurt your restaurant for years to come.