As strange as it may seem, there are more types of restaurant equipment suppliers than there are suppliers of goods in just about any other industry on the planet. Each supplier has their niche in the industry and based on your needs, one type may be better suited than another. Figuring out what type of restaurant equipment supplier you need for your project can certainly be a confusing task for even the most experienced restaurateur. We’ve outlined the various types of suppliers you may encounter below to help make some sense of the dizzying array of options.

Broadliner: This is a dealer that primarily sells food items and smallwares, but also offers a smaller selection of light-duty and major foodservice equipment.

Cash-and Carry Dealer: This is essentially a retail store environment who typically carries very few, if any well-known equipment manufacturers and tends to caters to customers who are more interested in price than anything else.

Internet Dealer: This category falls under the ecommerce type of restaurant equipment suppliers. Point, click and buy. This is a what you see is what you get supplier, so make sure when purchasing with this type of dealer to ensure they provide any necessary services like lift-gate and inside delivery options, otherwise your equipment will be delivered to the curb of the address you provide in checkout.

Design Dealer: This is a commercial kitchen design and supply consultant (Mise Designs falls into this category). These types of restaurant equipment suppliers are becoming a rarity, but offer a singular resource to restaurateurs to acquire design and construction documents for their project, but also act as restaurant equipment suppliers, consolidator and installer of all the major foodservice equipment and systems. Working with this type of dealer has many advantages and will typically act as the single point of contact for all foodservice aspects relating to the project, allowing the owner to focus on their business, not the management of construction professionals.

Full-Service Dealer: This is the Design Dealer as mentioned above, but also offers a showroom for those operators that actually like to the equipment browse in person.

Foodservice Design Consultant: This is not a category of restaurant equipment suppliers, but is worth mentioning since they are professionals who specialize strictly in the creation of the facility design and equipment specifications for a project.

Foodservice Equipment Contractor: This is again, not typically restaurant equipment suppliers (although some are), but is a contractor that is used specifically for the equipment installation aspect of a project.

Kitchen Equipment Supplier: This is a dealer that will typically fabricate a large quantity of the equipment it sells. They will also provide equipment from other manufacturers to provide a full service, but are more focused on selling their own line of products which may vary from sinks and tables to refrigeration and custom cabinetry.

Chain-Oriented Dealer: This dealer strictly works with large chain corporations and specializes in assisting them with consolidation, delivery and installation in large geographical areas. They also have a strong focus on providing maintenance services to these chains in order to “extend the sale” beyond the delivery of the equipment.

Bid-Oriented Dealer: This type of equipment supplier specializes in bidding large commercial projects such as schools, institutions, military bases, etc. They typically have teams of staff strictly dedicated to creating bids for large projects and most often do not provide various services other than simply supplying and delivering the equipment.

Manufacturer Representative: This is an independent company that may represent several brands and acts as the intermediary between the manufacturer and the dealers. They act as an educational resource for designers and dealers on the brands they represent and are many times involved in the installation and training of the customers on the equipment purchased.

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