If you've recently landed a job as a food service director in a college, healthcare facility, or other institution, you're probably feeling a mixture of apprehension and pride. After all, it's going to be up to you to ensure that large quantities of nutritious and delicious meals are produced in a timely fashion, that food is stored safely, and that costs are controlled without quality suffering as a result. Being a professional food service director can be quite a tightrope walking act, but fortunately, you've got resources available that can make your job a lot easier. For instance, the right food service equipment supplier can make a world of difference in how smoothly your operation runs -- or doesn't run. Not all food service equipment supply companies are the same, however, and it may take some homework on your part to weed out the companies that don't have your best interests at heart and identify the ones that do. Here's what you should look for in a food service equipment company.
A Comprehensive Product List
Using multiple companies to supply your product and equipment needs is a waste of time. Even though you may find that certain specialty products are only available from certain suppliers, the majority of your stuff should come from one company. This streamlines everything from paperwork to scheduling deliveries. One of the first things you should do when considering a new supply company is to close yourself in your office with their catalog and a checklist of the items that your operations uses on a regular basis and make sure they've got most of what you need. If the company's offerings are sparse and/or don't meet your needs, you should move on. It may take several sessions before you find the company that's the best fit for the individual needs of your organization.
Brand Name Equipment
If you're considering using an equipment supplier that carries a significant amount of off-brand equipment, you may be thinking that this is an excellent way to save on operating costs. However, even though off-brand items may come with reduced up-front costs, they may end up costing more in the long run. For instance, parts for off-brand equipment are frequently notoriously difficult to get and might not even be available at any price. It may also be hard to find a repair technician who is familiar with off-brand equipment or even find a user's manual to use as a guideline. Repair technicians are trained on brand name equipment, and factory replacement parts are easily available. Another important thing to keep in mind is that off-brand products generally come with substandard warranties, while name brand product manufacturers generally provide their customers with substantial warranties that ensure they're protected against defects and malfunctions.
Human Account Representatives
Part of your homework when vetting food service equipment suppliers should be speaking with a representative from their company -- hopefully, the one who'll be personally handling your account in the event that you decide to get on board. If you have difficulty reaching an actual human when you try to call or email them, you should consider that a huge red flag. Although most modern business utilize automatic response systems, these can't be expected to take the place of actual human account representatives. If you can't seem to reach a human being during the vetting process, imagine how difficult it may be to get in touch with someone if you have problems with your account or have questions about specific products. Finding the right food service equipment and supply company will probably take significant due diligence, but you'll undoubtedly find that the investment in time and energy is well worth the trouble.
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