With the new school year in full swing, you’re likely already painfully aware of just how tight your budget really is. And while you likely have all sorts of clever ideas on how to stretch your dollars to the max, there is one glaring, often overlooked area that can make all the difference: your foodservice equipment.
Whether you know you’re in the market for new equipment or you’re simply thinking about ways to maximize your budget, here’s some food for thought to consider when it comes to investing in equipment.
Whether you do the research or find out the hard way, one thing’s for sure: lower-priced equipment isn’t necessarily less expensive overall. When you’re a budget-conscious buyer, it’s tough to look past the upfront cost. But before purchasing equipment, calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO). Beyond retail price, factor in less-obvious costs like installation fees, utilities, maintenance, supplies, labor and food waste. On top of this, make sure the equipment manufacturer you’re working with has a solid reputation. You’ll want to work with a company that’s in it for the long run — one that’s committed to lasting quality and stands by their products.
Equip yourself for less food waste.
With up to 30-40% of the U.S. food supply ending up in landfills each year, chances are food waste (whether you realize it or not) is eating away at your budget. To cut back on food costs, look for equipment with innovative capabilities that’ll help you minimize or prevent food waste. For example, convenience features, like equipment with programmable recipe settings, make life easier for employees but also ensures food is cooked properly and doesn’t end up in the trash. Or, equipment that has precision-enhancing cooking features — such as adjustable temperature and time controls, zone-specific controls, and other technologies that’ll help preserve the integrity of your food — translates to less waste and more savings.
Cut labor costs with automation.
It’s no secret that labor is one of the highest costs for the foodservice industry. To keep costs at bay, look for equipment that helps you automate time-consuming, labor-intensive tasks. Since automation features — such as programmable cook settings and auto-loading functionality — make equipment easier for employees to use, you can save time on training and don’t have to splurge on highly skilled operators. Plus, if you can automate tasks altogether, you can hire less and allocate staff more effectively. In other words, you can do more with less.
Serve what sells with multipurpose equipment.
Speaking of doing more with less, consider multipurpose equipment to keep crowds happy. With versatile equipment, such as multi-cavity commercial ovens, you have the flexibility to cook items at different temperatures — simultaneously. This streamlines cooking time, but it also allows you to prepare a range of crowd-pleasing menu items, such as pizza and burgers, with one piece of equipment. Not only does this increase sales, but it maximizes your return on investment.
Stretch your dollars with the right equipment.
Planning on a tight school budget can be tricky, but armed with these strategies, you can uncover opportunities to reduce costs and increase sales. And while smart, durable and versatile equipment may seem more expensive at first glance, it will pay dividends over time, making the initial investment worth it.
As you’re looking into budget-friendly equipment, don’t forget to evaluate other critical operational costs. If you can control those, you may even free up more room in your budget for new foodservice equipment, which can pay off in the long run!
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