Most people think of restaurant rebranding strictly in terms of decor, marketing, and the items on the menu. True enough, this is primarily what customers experience front and center. But there’s more to recreating your brand than aesthetics and flavor, especially when it comes to how your staff functions. This is where equipment additions and full upgrades come into play.
There are a few reasons why you might want to completely upgrade equipment in your restaurant kitchen. For one, it might simply be too old! Whether you bought it used or simply have had it for years and years, older kitchen equipment can be a risk. Even with consistent maintenance and prompt repairs, old equipment will start to break down; your grills just won’t get to the proper temperature, your high temp dishwasher will start to leave debris, and your food will take longer in the ovens.
Part of your brand should be offering consistently great, consistently made on time food, right? So ensuring that your equipment is working perfectly — and efficiently — should absolutely be part of your brand. Upgrading a years-out-of-date piece of equipment could equal an uptick in quality food and speedy service from your restaurant, which translates into dollars with every return visit.
Another reason to upgrade? Your equipment might not be the right size anymore. If you’re rebranding your restaurant to accommodate a new, larger customer base, chances are your existing equipment isn’t fit to handle how busy your kitchen gets during any given shift.
That fryer you bought five years ago seemed like it was big enough then, but now your cooks are making twice the amount of French fries a night! If your brand transition includes massive changes to your menu, you might need to find different sizes or types of equipment to fit the new kinds of dishes you’re going to be making. Do you have the right equipment at the right size to get the job done correctly?
Consider energy efficiency. This is becoming a bigger and bigger upgrade incentive for restaurant owners. After all, kitchen equipment that’s energy efficient first and foremost can save you money on your monthly utility bills. Slimming down those bills can mean big things for your budget, especially given the exorbitant cost of a restaurant rebranding. Energy efficient models also tend to be the newer, top-of-the-line equipment models, so you know the quality of cooking will stay the same or even improve in your kitchen.
Most importantly for this conversation, energy efficiency is a huge part of rebranding yourself as a modern restaurant. If you’re looking to market your business as environmentally conscious, the first place to look is your equipment because the older units tend to take up so much energy as it is.
But don’t forget, there’s more to your equipment than just what’s in the back of the house. Your cooking equipment absolutely contributes to your brand in a hundred different ways, but (except for in specific cases like wood burning pizza ovens or hibachi grills) they are rarely directly seen by the public. What’s visible to the public is the technology used at the front of the house for orders, check-out, reservations, and seating. Consider upgrading your POS system, not just to be more streamlined for your staff, but to fit the modern look of your brand.
If you have a menu board, consider upgrading to the newest technology that is easy to read and allows for quick changes when you have to make adjustments to items or their prices. This will be especially helpful if your chef is still settling into the new brand and may need to tweak a few things as they go along.
If your new brand is all about the tech, having tablets be part of your guests’ ordering experience can set you apart. Also, look at how you’re playing music in your restaurant. There are many systems available to help you create custom playlists that fit your brand without having to hear advertisements, chatter, or something that won’t fit the experience you want for your customers.
While exploring new equipment for both back and front of the house at your restaurant can be exciting, resist the urge to go for the trendiest option in kitchen equipment right now. It’s important to think of these purchases as long-term investments in your business, that you hope not to replace in just a few years. When looking at the coolest upgrades, be sure to think about how they can contribute to efficiency, food quality, service quality, and overall customer satisfaction. Those are the key components to controlling how your restaurant is perceived, once a rebrand is complete.
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