According to the Nationwide Caterers’ Association (NCASS), catering businesses are the only type of chain operator that has enjoyed continuous growth in the number of outlets in the UK for more than twenty years.
But that growth has been enjoyed only by those businesses that have been able to manage their costs and overheads to return a profit at the end of the day.
Since the equipment installed and used by any catering establishment is likely to be one of the most expensive investments, here are some tips on managing the cost of your catering equipment.
Put off by the considerable expense of most of the equipment and appliances needed in any commercial kitchen, one of the more obvious choices is to buy it second-hand – for instance, if you see a commercial dishwasher for sale, you are probably going to investigate further.
Buying second-hand might save you up to as much as 60% on the cost of new catering equipment. But remember that when you are buying second-hand your primary concern is not just one of buying cheap.
There is a well-worn saying in business circles that buying cheap means buying twice – if you buy cheap, it is unlikely to last, so you end up having to buy the same item twice.
That holds just as true for your catering equipment. Even when buying reconditioned, second-hand machines and appliances it is worth buying the best you can afford – without being guided entirely by cost-saving.
Choose reconditioned equipment from a reputable provider who has put any appliance through rigorous testing procedures to ensure that it emerges in perfect working order and is 100% functional. That way, a second-hand appliance is not just up to the demanding job you expect of it but also offers good value for money.
Think carefully about the type of food you are preparing before choosing the appropriate catering equipment.
The choice of equipment, machines and appliances may appear overwhelming, so make sure that what you buy is suitable for your needs – it is going to be difficult managing the cost of your commercial catering equipment if much of it is lying idle and unused for much of the time.
Though you might be concentrating your money-saving efforts on purchasing reconditioned dishwashers and glasswashers, remember that the law also requires you to have separate hand washing facilities. The legal requirement is there because one of the key causes of cross-contamination and food poisoning is the failure of those involved in the handling, preparation and cooking of food to wash their hands regularly.
On that particular subject, also remember that anti-bacterial gel is generally dismissed by environmental health officers as an appropriate or acceptable hand cleanser.
Managing the cost of your catering equipment also means complying strictly with the legislation that relates to it – especially where gas appliances are concerned.
The latter must all carry the CE mark (“Conformité Européene”, or European Conformity) and incorporate a device that cuts the flow of gas if the flame is extinguished. All your gas-fired equipment must also be installed and inspected and tested each year by a Gas Safe registered engineer.