Starting a new catering business from scratch doesn’t necessarily mean you require all new equipment. You can buy quality used catering equipment such as utensils, stoves, ovens, refrigeration units, and so on for much cheaper prices. This will definitely save you money in the short term, at least.
With many pieces of equipment, the money saved by purchasing used items is not worth the risk it entails. However, in most cases, buying used equipment is a smart way to save some of your startup capital.
Been in the Industry since 1990, we sure can share some of our experiences and helpful tips for buying used catering equipment that will save you money in the long term.
1. Go with reputable brands.
The first and far most important tip is, when buying used catering equipment, you should choose those from top-of-the-line brands and from the reputable seller. Top brands have been long known for durable and long-lasting products.
Buying from a trusted supplier will also put you in a good position to get professional help and advises when needed.
2. Get products testing and request more information.
It goes without saying that the longer a product has been used, the shorter its remaining lifespan becomes. That is, products that have been used only for a short period will last longer than those that have been used for long.
When buying equipment at auctions or from used equipment dealers, you must always ask how many years of regular use the equipment underwent. However, finding a trustworthy dealer who would reveal the truth regarding this is another issue.
2.1 Gas-cooking equipment.
Gas cooking equipment such as char boilers and commercial gas boilers have few moving parts, so any major problems, such as leaks or operational defects, can be detected easily.
However, it's highly recommended to have the equipment inspected for worn out parts and leaks, first. Especially used gas fryers which need to be cleaned because they are at risk of causing a fire, since they combine cooking oil and an open flame—two flammable elements.
So, if you have the equipment inspected and confirmed to be in good working condition, chances are that you would be making a good purchase while saving a few hundred rands if not thousands. However, before buying any gas equipment, you must factor in the type of gas it uses, whether it’s propane (LP) or natural gas.
2.2 Electric cooking equipment.
Electric cooking equipment are easier to maintain and clean. However, buying them used might be risky because the mechanism is more complex than gas equipment and are, therefore more prone to damages.
Such damages may not be easily traceable and usually require an experienced technician or electrician to fix them.
3. Buy dent and scratch equipment.
Yep! Foodservice operators usually reject any new equipment that arrives dented or scratched and return them to the factory. Usually, the damage to such equipment never goes beyond cosmetic, but the manufacturer cannot sell at full price.
If you are on a tight budget, buying such dented or scratched equipment is a smart way to save money, since the equipment will still be in a perfect working condition.
4. Request the operations manual.
When purchasing catering equipment—especially those that are somewhat complex to operate—request for the operations manual. This will help you understand how to use the equipment and avoid damaging it due to wrong use.
5. Buy from reputable sources.
Buy your used catering equipment from reputable sources, such as WeDoAll and other reputable used product dealers. This way, you will avoid buying substandard or damaged products and you get a piece of mind knowing someone is always available to help should you experience problems.