| The Deadly Sins of Buying Catering Equipment. Or how to avoid the most common catering problems and become more profitable, more efficient and safer at work.IntroCatering is a difficult job.The hours can be long, the working environment can be hot and pressurized, time is always in short supply and there is always something that needs doing.
Add to this that the catering environment can be dangerous unless treated with respect and you start to see catering in a whole new light.
At blueU we have a combined experience exceeding 30 years of selling equipment and in that time we have heard it all and seen a pattern in the most common tales of woe – the deadly sins of catering.
These deadly sins are recurring problems that many caterers face and either are unaware of them or choose to ignore them but if you tackle them head on you’ll be a happier, more efficient, more profitable and above all safer cater – good for you and good for business.
So, enjoy reading our deadly sins, we hope it helps you and your business and feel free to contact us if any of it raises issues you need help with.
1 Warranties – Are they worth the paper they’re written on?
2 Clean and serviced – Looking after your investment.
3 It’s cheap for a reason – The classic case of false economy.
4 Check and Check again – Attention to detail makes all the difference.
5 Read the small print! – Every distributor has it.
6 Power struggles – Take control of your power sources.
7 Equipment installation
8 Register your product – I am not a number!
Warranties – Are they worth the paper they’re written on?
Warranties, everything seems to have one these days and even if something already has a manufacturers warranty you can bet your bottom dollar that someone somewhere will try and sell you another warranty on top – it just never ends. BUT a good warranty is worth it’s weight in gold and the benefits and support it can provide can make the difference between happy ownership or a miserable experience.
Are all warranties the same?
Unfortunately the answer is no. Beware of companies that offer warranties that cover the bare minimum when it comes to looking after their customers and do little more than allow the products to be returned to the manufacturer for repair. This may be fine for something that costs a couple of pounds, is small or seldom used and isn’t essential but when you are spending hundreds or thousands of pounds on equipment you use to run your business it’s a different matter. Then your warranty should deliver a professional service you can rely upon and make you feel safe in the knowledge that if there is ever a problem it is dealt with professionally, on-site and as quickly as is possible.
Why are blueU warranties different?
Our warranties are different because they treat you like a professional. We don’t make excuses and slow down the whole process with needless returns to the factory, we send out highly trained warranty mechanics wherever possible who visit on-site to get the problems solved as soon as possible.
On-site repairs help you in a number of ways.
• Identification of the problem is quicker – no waiting for it to return to the factory.
• Face-to-face discussion – the engineer can help isolate any issues which may be caused by the environment or usage etc.
• Quicker problem solving.
• Less disruption to your business – no taking equipment in and out of your working environment and none of the problems associated with moving kit around.
So next time you’re buying professional equipment don’t just look at the price on offer, take a closer look at how the product is supported and choose one with a warranty from a distributor that actually looks after you as a customer if something goes wrong. Be cautious of a distributor that advertises a product without showing a clear warranty offer.
Clean and serviced – Looking after your investment
Just like a car, a piece of professional catering equipment functions better and lasts longer if it’s looked after; and when you are spending serious money on equipment it’s probably the quickest and easiest way for you to protect your investment. The thing is though, a lot of people merely wipe equipment down thinking ‘that’s that’ when proper cleaning and regular servicing is what’s really called for or needed.
Why should I clean and service my equipment?
Clean equipment is not just a pleasure to use (no unsightly gunk hiding in the corners – no funny smells) but it also helps ensure that there is no unseen food contamination which can lead to upset stomachs or worse – a catering nightmare well worth avoiding. It also helps ensure that your food actually tastes of your food and not something that was burnt into the equipment last week. Imagine trying to achieve the perfect Victoria Sponge in an oven that’s been dealing with smoked fish and no clean down in between! Get the picture? Ensuring that your equipment is clean also helps it stay in tip top condition and reduces the chances of erosion or parts corroding under the dirt. Kitchens are full of everyday chemicals like salt and acidic liquids like vinegars and fruit juices that can play havoc with reactive surfaces like metal worktops. Want to keep things looking good and most importantly lasting a long time? Then keep it clean.
Servicing – isn’t it just a money making exercise?
There’s no doubt about it – servicing costs BUT it’s not a cost without real benefits and these are benefits that are worth having. Servicing on equipment from well trained technicians not only helps ensure that the investment you made in the equipment is looked after and lasts but also ensures that the equipment is running optimally and this alone helps reduce your running costs. Add to this that servicing ensures that equipment is safe to use and you can see that it’s not really money for nothing – you get peace of mind and equipment that’s as efficient and safe as the day you bought it.
HELP! I don’t know what needs servicing.
This is a common problem especially in busy catering environments where that last thing on your mind is getting a fryer or an oven serviced but one that is easily remedied. The easiest way to ensure that your equipment is serviced correctly is to register your product with the warranty card when you receive it. By doing this the manufacturer can contact you when your warranty is due to expire and advise on companies that can assist you with extended cover for the future – no fuss, no headaches.
It’s cheap for a reason – The classic case of false economy
We all know about buying cheap stuff and how tempting it is, it’s like buying cheap chocolate. We also know that in general you get what you pay for and that if it looks too good to be true then it probably is. BUT we still fall for the “low low prices” and only when it falls apart in our hands or the doors drop off do we wish we’d spent a few more pounds on quality equipment that was up to the job. But hindsight doesn’t pay the bills and a broken piece of equipment is a headache we can all do without.
Success has a common ingredient.
It’s the same the world over and throughout all industries, the ones that succeed all have one thing in common. They invest in their processes by using equipment that keeps on going (and keeps on making money) day in day out making a solid and reliable return on the investment. Whether it’s mining equipment, a designer’s computer, a farmer’s tractor or a chef’s oven – buying reliable equipment is far more important and far more effective at making money in the long run than merely saving a few pounds on the asking price. And with reliable equipment normally comes the professional support you’d expect. Cheap equipment is cheap for a reason – you are buying a product and nothing else (apart from potential headaches).
Is blueU Cheap or Expensive?
At blueU we are very aware that price is important BUT we are equally aware that equipment that doesn’t last and doesn’t give our customer’s the reliable service they need is bad for everyone. That’s why our equipment, regardless of what it’s for will always be designed and manufactured with a long working life in mind. Sure, we do our absolute best to keep prices competitive and we always have special offers and promotions but we will never compete with the bottom of the market because that would mean selling equipment that’s not up to the job. And what’s the point in that? Some catering products are so cheap they are almost disposable, ours are not disposable but still priced well!
So why should I buy from blueU?
You don’t have to and you could save a few pounds here and there shopping about and buying bits and bobs from all over the place and then when it goes wrong or you have a problem – what do you do? At blueU we believe in supporting our customers and this doesn’t just mean selling equipment that’s up to the job. In that price we supply warranties that look after you properly like a professional, supply technical support at hand when you need it with just a single phone call, a team that helps keep everything running smoothly for you and a national network of manufacturers and service engineers at our disposal. That’s a lot of hidden extras and a lot of expertise that is worth having we’re sure you’ll agree.
In fact, given the straight choice between good solid equipment that comes with all the professional support and backing you could need, compared to a bit of kit that’s 5% cheaper and comes with next to nothing, the choice really is a no-brainer. So, make sure the next equipment you buy doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Check and check again – Attention to detail makes all the difference.
It’s an all too common problem and one that affects both the top of the market in big kitchens and burger vans alike. Getting things to fit.
More haste less speed. You may be surprised but even the most methodical minds can sometimes miss the simplest and most important of details when buying new equipment. The classic oversight is buying equipment that, whilst fitting perfectly in the space ready for it, won’t go through the door to get to the space. Sounds funny but imagine the stress and disruption and it happens far more often that you may realise but it’s the kind of mistake that you only make once. One of the best pieces of advice is when buying any equipment is to fully assess the size of it. In the words of the eternal craftsman “measure twice. cut once” in other words check and double check. Those extra five minutes of ensuring that all the dimensions are suitable helps avoid silly mistakes that can be costly both in time and money.
We can work round it!
Another common problem is buying equipment that is too big for the space it is intended for. Not too big that it won’t fit but too big that it actually gets in the way in the working environment or actually becomes a hazard. This is both bad practice when it comes to running an efficient kitchen as it makes working quickly more difficult and in some cases a health & safety issue. Neither is worth experiencing. Kitchen equipment in many cases doesn’t just have a static footprint but in the case of ovens for example they have doors that open into the workspace. Being aware of these aspects of any piece of equipment is essential when planning your working environment.
blueU and size.
OK, so we can’t be there to help you measure your doorway but we do believe in providing you with as many measurements and equipment facts as possible to help ensure that you have all the information you need to make the right decisions. Not only do we provide external dimensions for all our equipment but also internals ones where necessary. We can also provide equipment weights – handy if you’re fitting out in a weight sensitive area and online we provide a library of CAD drawings of many of our equipment for use by planners so they can create accurate plans in 3D.
Read the small print.
Buying commercial equipment from a “business to business” company does not give you the same rights as a buying for your home from a retailer.
All distributors have terms and conditions; the only difference is blueU like to tell you before you order.
- The majority of national distributors use third party national carriers and blueU are no exception. For insurance purposes a delivery will be made to your doorstep and generally does not include positioning the equipment in your kitchen or bar.
- Don’t sign for deliveries unless you are sure the products have been received in good condition. If you are in any doubt or do not have the time sign for it as “unchecked.” A third party carrier is contractually obliged to deliver the products to you in the same condition as it left the manufacturers if they damage the products in transit they will compensate the manufacturer to the value of the goods – providing you have not signed for it without identifying a potential problem. Where should the responsibility end if a customer has signed for a product as good, which they later discover, is damaged? If you do discover a product to be damaged report it immediately, a carrier will only entertain a claim if it is reported to them within 48 hours of the product being delivered.
- Be sure the equipment is right for you, if you feel that you need to return a product be aware that more often than not there will be a significant charge. At blueU we always try to minimise these charges but sometimes they just cannot be avoided.
- If you do enter into a dispute with your distributor try to work with them, very few will respond to aggression and will try to hide a myriad of terms and conditions. If you can’t resolve a dispute and still feel aggrieved ask for a copy of their terms and conditions and speak to trading standards and seek their advice. In fact if your placing an order ask for the distributors terms and conditions before you place your order which could save a huge amount of time and effort. A distributor with any integrity will issue these without question.
Power struggles – Take control of your power sources.
Caterers of all persuasions are a pretty resourceful bunch. They can take a few ingredients and make something that can lift the spirits, remind you of childhood, entertain you, make you feel like you’ve had the best meal for a long time or simply fill a hole, but there’s one magic ingredient that they all use…POWER.
I’m a caterer not an engineer.
It doesn’t matter what type of catering you do it’s highly unlikely that it’s done without Electricity, Natural Gas or LPG and the more aware you are of the energy you use, where it enters your kitchen and how to control it the safer you’ll be. In fact it is surprising how few caterers even bother to find out how their equipment is connected. This may not sound like a big deal and you may think that it’s someone else’s job to be aware of how things are connected but knowing how to turn something off can in some cases make the difference between a small accident and a plaster on your finger and a trip to A&E.
Cutting corners – always expensive and potentially dangerous.
All working environments – especially ones like kitchens that are potentially hazardous if abused are better served when things like power outlets are clearly marked and are both clean and in good working order. Electrical sockets fizzing? It’s probably safe to say it’s not safe to use; gas pipes not fixed to the wall and allowed to wobble about? It’s an accident waiting to happen. You may be tempted to cut corners and either bodge repairs or get them done ‘by a mate’ but if there’s one thing we know is when environmental health do a spot check (and they do) they don’t like unsafe environments and they can not only insist work is carried out to spec but shut kitchens down until they’re done. So, next time you think ‘it’ll do’ just remember ‘it’ll do’ is no defence with legal compliance.
Help! I’m unsure who to contact about energy matters.
Don’t worry, finding a professional or body to help get information on energy matters is only a phone call or a mouse click away.
Professional catering equipment can be a big investment, the last thing you want is someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing installing it (and you’d be surprised how many people this happens to). Aside from it possibly making a mess of your new equipment, installation also has an important job in regards to ensuring that your safety comes first. The last thing you want is a badly installed piece of equipment that is a hazard to you or your customers. This is why it is important to get well trained people to do the work – not any old Tom, Dick or Harry.
How do I know if people are qualified to install?
Professionals who are trained to install catering equipment and connect it to mains gas and electricity MUST have been certificated by both the Gas Safe Register™ for Gas and for Electricity either the ECA (www.eca.co.uk) or the (www.niceic.org.uk).
Recently the CORGI Gas registration scheme was replaced in Great Britain and the Isle of Mann by the Gas Safe Register™ (www.gassaferegister.co.uk) the new name for the gas safety certification body that sets the standard. This certification and registration body ensures that all members are fully trained to work with the type of Gas they say they can and ensures that the work they carry out follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance and safety for all. If the fitter isn’t GAS SAFE™ registered or the card they show you looks suspect DON’T TAKE THE RISK.
Electricians and electrical engineers need to be registered with either the ECA – Electrical Contractors’ Association (www.eca.co.uk) or the (www.niceic.org.uk). As with Gas, these trade bodies ensure that their members are fully trained in dealing with all types of electrical installation and ensures that the work they carry out follows strict guidelines to ensure compliance and safety for all. Once again, if their documentation looks suspect don’t take the risk.
How can blueU help?
At blueU we can help not only advise you on what’s a great product for your type of catering but we can also put you in touch with highly trained, reliable and professional electrical and gas engineers who are focussed on providing you with a first class service. And because they are all registered and fully trained in their fields you know that the work they undertake will be safe.
Call blueU who will then put you in touch with your local registered
and fully qualified installation company.
Registration – I am not a number!
Product registration, like the product warranty it sometimes feels like everything has a registration card and is asking for you to register it. And yet, whilst registration requests appear to be everywhere very few of us actually use them. We simply make the excuse of “I’ll do it tomorrow” and as we all know, tomorrow never comes. This is one of the most common wasted opportunities to get more out of your equipment.
So why should I register?
Good question. Registering your product (especially professional quality products) does much more than just let the manufacturer know that something of theirs has been sold. It allows them to keep in touch with you with product updates that may include safety notices, end of line information and a host of other issues that, as an owner would be in your interest to be aware of. It also means that if you have a problem with your equipment then the manufacturer is aware of who you are, the specific product you have and are able to be more focussed in dealing with you.
Doesn’t registration just mean marketing?
Not at all. Registering your product with a professional company is not about marketing. The information received from the registration process may be in part used to help better understand the market and users but registration details are primarily used to ensure records are kept of what went where and to whom allowing clear communication between the product owner and manufacturer. The Data Protection Act and well implemented data protection policies within companies are also there to ensure that the information collected is both confidential and safe and only ever used for the purposes it says it is collected for.
Another handy aspect of the registration process is the ‘reminder’. With most products servicing is not an issue but with catering equipment that uses power sources and is likely to suffer professional wear and tear regular servicing is not just a must but in many cases a legal requirement. By registering your product reminders can be emailed direct to you to help ensure that you keep your equipment in the best possible condition, safe for you and everyone else.
So when you purchase your piece of equipment, remember fill in the form, it costs you nothing and gives you piece of mind for the future.
The Registration Check List
On delivery of your brand new piece of equipment, remember to note down
the following 4 pieces of information.
1. Date of delivery
2. Product code
3. Serial no
4. The telephone number of where you purchased your brand new piece of equipment
These 4 simple things will ease the pain if you have to register a warranty call in the future. Keep it somewhere easy to find.
So what next?
That’s easy find a distributor that has high integrity, great customer service, and a price pledge that guarantees that if you buy a product and see it elsewhere cheaper even after two weeks will refund the difference and your home and dry, In fact why not give us a call and find out why we are generally regarded as the fastest growing distributor of equipment in the UK!