The right equipment vendor is more than just a company that sells products. Your vendor should also understand your needs and treat you and your staff with respect. The best vendor should also consider you like a business partner. If you succeed, the vendor succeeds, and can sell more products to you in the future. Vendors should understand this connection and work hard to make sure your business is profitable.
How do you find the right vendor?
Interview vendors as you would prospective employees or partners. Understand the company, the staff, and how they operate. It is equally important to develop a relationship with them. Get to know them on both a professional and personal level.
What are the determining factors?
Price vs. Quality
Don’t let price be the only determining factor when choosing a vendor. Quality and service are just as important, if not more important in the long run. Make sure the vendor is reputable and can provide products and services that meet your quality standards. Poor quality items can impair your reputation and brand name if the equipment doesn’t meet the demands of your menu, or capacity. Customers expect good quality food, therefore, quality is often more important than price.
Experience in Your Industry/Knowledge of Equipment
The right vendor should have an understanding of how your facility operates and have the ability to select the right equipment for your application. They should know how to plan a kitchen and consider your requirements, local codes, and utilities. Without this understanding you could be left with an expensive piece of equipment that cannot be installed properly and with no option to return it. They should also be knowledgeable regarding the latest technology for you to take advantage of energy efficiency, and new techniques.
Equipment Installation and Training
The last thing you need is a piece of equipment dropped at your door with no support to get it up and running. Make sure your vendor is capable of being there to handle the installation and to show you and your staff how to operate your new equipment properly to protect your investment. They should discuss preventative maintenance including daily, monthly and annual maintenance that should be performed.
Sales Backed by Parts and Service
A good equipment vendor should offer more than sales through a dedicated parts and service offering. If something breaks down, you need to be confident that your vendor can be there with replacement parts, and skilled enough to fix things and get you back to serving customers as quickly as possible. They should also be knowledgeable about regular maintenance and troubleshooting to keep your equipment running, and to protect your investment. Without the proper operation and maintenance, the quality of your food will suffer and you risk a breakdown that you cannot afford during peak capacity. The safety of your staff should also be a concern.