When buying new equipment, particularly warewashers, foodservice operators seem to have no shortage of choices these days.

F1009_ConView1Weeding through the fields of information available to determine fact from fiction can be a time-consuming and daunting task for an operator preparing to make a replacement purchase. That's why I generally take the four steps outlined below. While other factors do play into making a purchase, these steps tend to provide a solid framework that contributes to making informed decisions.

Step One: Determine the Actual Need
How many racks per hour does the operation process? Observe the workflow in the warewashing area to see if racks of soiled dishes are stacking up during busy periods and whether employees have enough space to adequately execute their duties. Weigh these factors when deciding what type of dishmachine the operation really needs and to determine if the space is designed to maximize the efficiency of both the staff and the equipment.

Step Two: Challenge A Few Top Companies/Suppliers to Spend Time in the Actual Restaurants
Generally, the person who comes back with the most factual information about the operation will have the best suggestions for helping improve the process. Plus, this individual is the one that will most likely provide the most support after the sale. Whether it's a dealer or manufacturer's rep, adding value to the relationship means knowing your customers' needs by personal investigation and research. It's always easy to tell who has put the effort into really understanding the needs of an organization.

Step Three: Research the Manufacturer's Parent Company
Because it is better to do business with and buy products from stable organizations, you should take a closer look at the manufacturer's parent company. Determine how well the company is performing financially and take a close look at its service network.

Step Four: Do the Math
Calculate what it will cost the restaurant to purchase and operate the warewasher. The calculations should include the purchase price, anticipated water and energy costs, and regularly scheduled maintenance. Once you have made these calculations, share the data with the operation's financial analysts to verify the math was done correctly and that this transaction fits into the organization's bigger vision. As with most things, anything that saves utility cost typically has a higher upfront cost, and the payback periods need to be well understood.