How chefs can help choose used kitchen equipment


Need to upgrade your kitchen, or replace an unreliable fridge and ancient fryers?

It’s time for chefs to make smarter requests – come across as a savvy numbers person, not a whinger or a chef with attitude. You can prove that the old stereotype is dead wrong!

It's time to add the M word into your job description - M for manager. What you're asking for will help the business make more money and be easier to run - who can argue with that?

How to Influence the Boss – also called 'managing upwards'

* Work out the Return on Investment (ROI) for the equipment you want. Return on Investment means if you spend $5000 on equipment, how quickly will that pay for itself – in months or years?

* Take your wishlist and research what’s available from a second-hand supplier. Find out the cash price to buy it, plus the weekly rental cost.

* Now compare that rental cost to the extra sales you will make, the labour hours saved or other efficiencies, and put both of those into dollars eg…

  • Conveyor oven that can be used for pizza and fast meals for your new takeaway and delivery menu. 50 meals x $14 average + $700 per night, and run by a student worker.
  • 2-pan deep fryer, so you can pump out lots more snacks during the busy times. Fried items sell themselves, and this can be done by a kitchen hand - another 100 serves per shift x $8.50 each = $850 every night.
  • A bigger above-bench dishwasher – saving 2 hrs per day x $25 ph. labour cost – that saves $350 per week.
  • Combi oven to introduce roast pork with crackling and dinner specials – it cooks while you’re doing other things, and always comes out perfectly. 80 meals x $15 each = $1200 per day.
  • 2-door fridge to replace the old drinks fridge that’s on its last legs – a new one will keep temperatures below 3° all the time. And no more losing $1200 of stock from a breakdown.

Prepare a Kitchen Upgrade & Efficiency Plan

* Explain that you're reducing risk by starting with equipment rental - $10,000 of equipment costs $126 per week with a SilverChef agreement, and can be returned or upsized within the first year.

* Download the operating manual - they can be found with a quick Google search. It's also worth asking for feeedback on brands from chefs in reputable online forums (eg the Australian Chefs Network on Facebook).

* Make better equipment just one part of your modernisation drive. You also want access to a modern rostering system like Tanda or Deputy (so you can nail wage costs), and low-cost recipe software to keep food ordering under control. Plus modern costing scales, ($500 or $6.25 pw on rental) – pay for them with the first seafood portion that is cut correctly!

* Talk about how everyone will be trained to use the equipment, especially as the new kitchen staffing model is Chef + kitchen hands, not Chef + chef + chef. Simple electronic controls are much easier for non-English speakers to use, and they are usually the mainstay of your kitchen. Better equipment also enables better hygiene - more important than ever.

* Help the boss feel more comfortable in the kitchen - chances are, she’s intimidated by all the stainless steel, flames and big pots. Teach her how to weigh portions and check costs using the new scales. Maybe even teach her how to use a knife!

* Work to improve your own computer skills - how to pull up useful POS reports, read a Profit & Loss statement, do simple spreadsheets, set up checklist apps, and even some design skills.

* Time your request - ask for when it’s a good time to have the discussion, and be prepared with brochures, costing and a changeover plan.

Make it all work and imrove the bottom line, now everyone agrees you deserve a raise!

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