BUYING SECOND-HAND CATERING EQUIPMENT FOR FOOD BUSINESSES

Starting a food business can be hard. So you have your product and you’re selling but you now soon realise that your home appliances aren’t going to cut it if you want to scale. You have now decided that you’re going to buy some commercial equipment. Enter the world of either high expense or sketchy dealers. Here at Newmarket Kitchen we always recommend buying new and the best you can afford. But like us, you’ll need to start somewhere right? 
 
Buying new. It’s generally shinier and you’ll be convinced you need the latest digital technology even for those special cupcakes you’re making. But is it affordable? Catering equipment is expensive. The poor exchange rate with the UK makes your flexibility with buying from abroad even harder so you’re limited to the cost price with local new equipment dealers. Warranties are key and it’s best to go with a trusted brand after extensive research. 
 
Buying second-hand. So now you’re trawling the likes of Donedeal where you’ll find most second-hand dealers advertising. Second-hand dealers can be tricky fellows. Imagine a second-hand car dealer and multiply that by 10. What do you look out for? Well let’s start with the most basic stuff like tables and other stainless steel items. This is easy, so long as it doesn’t require straightening or welding and when your only job is a good clean you’re golden. If you think it can be fixed up by your fabricator take a few pics and flick them on to him for a quote first before purchase. 
 
Can you inspect the item? What if you’re after something specific and ask a dealer if he has it. His answer will be “Yes – but I won’t have it for a week or so”. This translates to “No – I don’t have it but I will try source it from UK or somewhere, it will take longer than a month and I may not answer the phone when you come looking for me after a week to keep you on the hook”. 
They may provide warranties. Get this all nailed down in paper. 
 
When you’re buying technical items like electric and gas you need to buy with the most important thing in mind – can my catering equipment repair guy fix this if it breaks? If its simple electric and gas the chances are he can. If your item has digital components like motherboards etc. the chances are he most certainly can’t. What all manufacturers effectively want is to maintain ownership of the repair by ensuring their affiliated trained repair specialists are the only ones who can fix it. This is all great but of course comes with a costly premium over your regular repair guy who charges by the hour/call-out. 
Gas is cheaper than electric. Having your combi running all day, you’ll soon realise that you’re way better off running off gas. On the flip side, electric models generally have cheaper price tags than gas ones. It should be noted, almost all gas items need an electrical connection and you’ll need to check what size gas pipe is required to run your item. 
 
Here’s some other points worth noting: 

  • Age – ensure that there are spare parts still available and that the item is still competitive in current market. 
  • Condition – does it look well maintained? Loads of bangs will indicate not. Take a deep look at areas on the item that should be cleanable. 
  • Workload – hard to figure this one from your dealer’s floor, but ask the question. 
  • Quality – buy the best you can afford to avoid buying the same a second time with no recourse on first. 
  • Brand – quality usually stands the test of time, research the brand’s quality and durability. 

As a final note – “buyer beware” and do your research. Unfitted kitchen space can be a costly undertaken, especially if you plan on using it on a short to medium term basis. 

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