Selecting the type of restaurant equipment supplier can be challenging for even the most experienced chef, but with a little knowledge, you can make the process a painless one. As we’ve outlined in our post “Types of Restaurant Equipment Suppliers,” the various methods to procure equipment may seem endless we suggest reading that post before continuing here.
Every type of restaurant equipment supplier has their advantages and disadvantages, depending on your needs. What it essentially comes down to is determining what types of services, if any, you may need over and above the actual purchase of equipment.
If you are simply looking to replace an existing fryer in your restaurant for example, and you are somewhat mechanically inclined, you would may benefit from the savings incurred from purchasing on the internet or a cash-and-carry dealer. This is typically the most cost effective way to get one or two pieces, but make sure you are capable of picking it up, or receiving it when it arrives… If it is being delivered and you do not have a loading dock, make sure they offer a “lift-gate” delivery option. If your kitchen is say on the 3rd floor of a building with no elevator, I would look also for an “inside” or “white glove” delivery option. Otherwise your new fryer will be delivered to your curbside and sometimes, you may even be required to get it off the truck yourself. You may also have the ability to simply purchase it from your broadline food distributor, but you may pay a bit more since they are in the business of selling food, and offering equipment to their customers is more of a necessity of convenience. We were actually approached a few years back by one of the biggest broadline distributors in the Philadelphia area to discuss our becoming the supplier of equipment to their customers so they could “get it off their plate” and focus on selling food and disposables.
If you are in the process of remodeling or developing a new restaurant, you will most likely benefit from the additional services provided by larger scope dealers. Design dealers will act as the foodservice designer throughout the design and construction process, but then transition into the supply and installation contractor when it comes time to actually build the kitchen. If you have ever opened a restaurant yourself, you are well aware of all the moving parts that go on throughout the construction process. Obviously we could provide an endless list of benefits for working with a design dealer, but the biggest benefit one will receive is the benefit of time. The design dealer becomes the single point of contact for everyone with questions relating to the foodservice component of the project and provides the owner the ability on starting their business and not the construction, or whether the stove will fit through the door or not.
When working with a design dealer, it is important to pay attention to the equipment specifications they provide. The large majority of restaurant equipment supplier are affiliated with “buying groups.” These buying groups negotiate large scale purchase discounts from manufacturers for the dealers within the group. This effectively gives the buying group increased buying power and greater ability in price negotiation. The downside with dealing with a design dealer within a buying group is that they tend to specify the brands that are within their group since they get better pricing on and larger rebates from those manufacturers. This may of course be beneficial if you wish to purchase all the brands that are negotiated within that group, or if you don’t really have a brand preference, but if you prefer one brand over another and that other brand is not within that dealer’s buying group, you may pay a premium for it.