Five steps to reduce kitchen equipment costs

Equipment costs for a new, full-menu restaurant can run upwards of $250,000. But with a bit of ingenuity, business acumen and plain hard work, operators can reduce equipment expenditures by as much as 20%. The trick lies in either reducing the need for certain pieces of equipment or getting equipment at a lower price. Here are five tips on how to accomplish those objectives:

1. Re-examine your equipment plan as it was originally developed. The equipment might have been specified to last 15 years and be highly energy efficient. Do those specifications still fit your business plan?
The price of the equipment depends in part on the level of engineering established by the fabricator, who determines how long the fixtures are designed to last. Equipment designed to last the longest costs the most money.
The durability tradeoff sometimes means trading down on the gauge of metal used in fabricating the equipment. Reducing the gauge of metal from 14 to 16, 16 to 18, 18 to 20, and so forth can reduce costs.

Five steps to reduce kitchen equipment costs
2. If you can alter your menu without compromising its quality or damaging your restaurant’s concept, you might be able to eliminate equipment that is not absolutely essential.
Determine what pieces of equipment are absolutely essential and what preparation functions can be produced on other equipment, thus eliminating any duplication of functions. For instance, soup can be made in a stockpot on top of a range, eliminating the need for a steam kettle.

3. Buy all stock-type equipment. Avoid custom or specially fabricated pieces.

4. Consider buying close outs. Find equipment that is reduced in price because the manufacturer plans to discontinue the item. These pieces, however, might be difficult to find service for five years down the road.

5. Look into buying used equipment. The above suggestions might shave 15% to 20% off equipment buying used equipment results in the most dramatic savings.

Several major sources exist for equipment of this type. Call a local used-equipment dealer. Or go further afield and contact dealers in other geographic areas. Another route: Attend auctions. This often gives operators a good opportunity to secure bargains on large quantities of fixtures with a single stroke. Successful “bulk bids” often have been made on a restaurant’s entire equipment package at 10 cents on the dollar. Be prepared, however, to run into protests from other buyers who have come to bid only on specific pieces.
Check advertisements in trade publications and local newspapers for specific equipment offered for sale. Or put the word out to contacts that you are looking for certain pieces of used equipment.

Be aware that there are a few potential problems involved with buying used equipment:
* The equipment might not run properly.
* It might not pass the city code.
* There could be parts missing.
* Those parts might not be available.
* Used equipment might be so energy inefficient that it raises operating costs.
* The equipment might require the wrong voltage.
* Cleaning and reconditioning used equipment can cost a lot of money.
Another area of concern is the possibility that the equipment won’t fit properly with the rest of the equipment in your kitchen, and might give an erratic appearance to the final installation.

Five steps to reduce kitchen equipment costs
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