Restaurant Rockstars Episode 383

Restaurant Equipment – What You Need to Know

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When you want to expand your kitchen, add new menu items, or even start a first restaurant, you need restaurant equipment at the right price when you need it.

In this episode of the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast, I’m speaking with Howard Task and John Ebarhart of Restaurant Equippers, a family-owned company specializing in restaurant equipment going on 60 years.

Listen as Howard and John talk about restaurant equipment including:

  • Common mistakes restaurants make when buying equipment.
  • New versus used restaurant equipment
  • Quality, life expectancy and warranty of today’s equipment
  • Current industry trends and hot popular restaurant equipment items
  • Restaurant Equippers highly experienced restaurant sales team that educate and help operators make the best choices for their restaurants.
  • Time saving, Energy-Star efficient and pieces that drive return on investment.
  • Preventative restaurant equipment maintenance “do’s & don’ts”
  • Finding a balance between the best brands at the best price

When you need equipment, call my friends at Restaurant Equippers (800) 235-3325, go online at www.equippers.com you can also shop their giant warehouse stores in Michigan, Ohio, or New Jersey.

If you Act Now until March 31, qualifying customers can Get 60 Days Financing with No-Interest, but hurry as this offer expires March 31, 2024.

Also…for a limited time.  For just $7, our Restaurant Profit Maximizer mini course will show you proven ways to boost profit in your restaurant. 

Restaurant Profit Maximizer

That’s right, boost your restaurant profit for less than the cost of a fancy beer – Get it today then go Rock YOUR Profits and YOUR Restaurant!

Roger

Connect with our guest:

Restaurant Equipment

https://www.facebook.com/RestaurantEquippers
https://www.linkedin.com/company/restaurant-equippers-in
https://www.instagram.com/restaurantequippers
https://www.equippers.com

This episode is all about equipment, whether you’re a first time operator and you’re just starting your restaurant or you’ve been in business for a while, everybody needs equipment, I’m speaking with Howard and John from Restaurant Equippers.

 This is going to be a crash course in what to look for when buying equipment. We’re going to be talking about value. We’re going to talk about longevity. We’re going to talk about preventative maintenance. We’re going to talk about extensive selection and how you can get the best piece of equipment at a price you want to pay.

So you’re not going to want to miss this. And for qualified, , customers, Equippers is now offering no interest, 60 day financing until March 31st of 2024. There’s a time, , essence here. We’ve got about two weeks or so, or you can still qualify for this program. And then after that, just know that you’re going to get a great value on great equipment with Restaurant Equippers.

 So thanks so much for tuning in. Thanks to our audience. Thank you to our sponsors. And if you haven’t already, please check out the show notes to this week’s episode because we have, , the Profit Maximizer for less than the cost of a craft beer. Seven bucks only. Really powerful ways that you can increase the profit of your restaurant.

Plus, if you dive a little deeper, we’re also offering a way that you can absolutely increase your menu profit, which is probably the biggest needle mover right now of all, because we can’t control inflation, we can’t control high labor costs, but we can control our profits, and we’re teaching all of that in a course

 so check that out in today’s show notes. Now on with the episode.

You’re tuned in to the Restaurant Rockstars Podcast. Powerful ideas to rock your restaurant. Here’s your host, Roger Beaudoin.

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Rockstars, when I needed equipment for my former restaurants, I called Restaurant Equippers. I bought two large freezers during the pandemic that allowed me to sell all kinds of prepared foods and desserts. The shipping was fast, and best of all, the price was right on the money. Restaurant Equippers has served independent food service operators just like you going on 60 years.

You’ll find all the top names and extensive inventory at their huge warehouse stores in Ohio, Michigan, and New Jersey. You can shop Equippers. com or call their national order office at 800 235 3325. Their experienced specialists will help you get the best equipment and supplies and save you money.

Thousands of name brand products are available for immediate store pickup or shipment, just like me. When you need something, you need it now. Restaurant Equippers will make sure you get the equipment and supplies you need, when you need them, at a price you want to pay. They shop the world to find the best products and value.

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Welcome back everyone to the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. So glad you’re here. Howard, John, welcome to the show. Thanks for being with us. Thanks for having us. Thank you. Glad to be here. We’re

going to speak all about restaurant equipment, and it is so relevant whether you’re starting a very first restaurant for the first time like I did 30 years ago.

There’s lots of questions that we have, and it can be overwhelming, and you guys are the experts, so I’m really glad to talk about that. And then existing operators that have been in business a while, they want to grow, they want to expand their business. It’s sometimes we need new equipment. That replaces the old, that makes our business more profitable, more efficient.

This is all great stuff we’re going to talk about, but let’s start with hospitality. When did it begin for both of you? How’d you get into the restaurant business?

I’ll go ahead and start. I graduated college in 91. Went back for some additional schooling, going for another degree and got hungry. I was working at a restaurant and I was hungry, so I stuck around a lot, right?

So I learned the business and I worked for a couple of corporate places before I opened my own place. And I had my own pizza restaurant, carry out, dine in for, About three years where I purchased everything from Restaurant Equipper. So I had built some relationships here way back in the early and mid nineties.

So yeah, our owner, after three years of not seeing my kid and, just not living anything outside the restaurant, I decided that, I’m entrepreneurial, but not as much as maybe I should be. So I sold everything, including the restaurant to Morris, the owner and founder of the business here.

I think that was 96, 97. That was, so I learned the restaurant business a little bit, opened my own for a few years, and then I’ve been here for the balance of my career for the last 27 years.

So that feels like family then for you. It’s like you guys go way back. It’s

very

much family, yeah.

That’s tremendous. This is a business of passion and it’s a business of family where you want your team to feel like family. You want the guests or your customers to feel like family. And if that is the foundation of a business, I think that’s a pretty solid way to, to move forward.

So that’s where success comes from. When you treat your guests, your customers, whoever they are, like family. You treat them right. You offer value every single day. You offer them service above and beyond what the competition is doing. You treat them right. And that’s how you build a winning business. And I know you guys have done that.

Howard let’s hear your story.

Actually, I’m the customer. I would say that I spend a great deal of my time in restaurants and nice restaurant bars. There’s a perk. I am a I’m by trade. Originally, I’m a marketing guy. I came out of advertising and then worked on the corporate side for many years.

started a consulting business back in the 80s and had the good fortune to meet the gentleman who’s the president of our company and the owner, the founder’s son. He’s today, he’s, he and his sisters are the owners of the company. And what was interesting for me as he was watching all of the people that I see in restaurants and bars coming in our stores with carts full of all the things that I’d be using when I was in the restaurant.

But what was most interesting for me, having worked in a lot of different businesses was I worked with the company for probably about a year on my first stint. And The owner actually fired me. And the reason that he fired me was because he said, you don’t understand our customer. Our customer is really unique.

They’re an independent owner. They’re not like the big chains. These guys are living the American dream and you have to learn to understand them a little better. And over time I would run into him socially and about three or four years later he asked me to come back and join the company and work with him and his team and now I think this stint I’ve probably been here 12 or 13 years and I have the good fortune to work with lots of companies and I will tell you this is a unique one but we meet some of the most interesting people from a wide variety of backgrounds and we really do celebrate and enjoy participating in their success.

It’s the backbone of our economy, restaurants and food service. It’s it’s one of those businesses that everyone will, depending on how often you go out to a restaurant, everybody eats out, whether that’s quick serve or behind a food truck or a sit down restaurant. It is really, but it’s also something that brings people of different cultures together.

It’s like breaking bread. It’s it’s part of America. It’s part of the world. And you’re right in the heart of that because none of it is possible without what you guys deliver every single day. Tell us a little bit about the founding history. How old is the company?

We started, I think Morris started the company in 1966 and it grew out of, he was a restaurateur, he came to the United States, I don’t know what year, but didn’t speak any English and he knew how to cook, right?

So he’s a restaurateur and he. Realized at one point that there was a need for product on hand where, he’s a businessman, first of all, but he was a restaurateur too, and he realized that The customers needed product more quickly than the typical channels where a salesman would come out, consult, and, determine what was needed.

They’d order it from the factory and then it’d show up a number of however long later. So Morris founded the business. A combination of buying used and refurbishing and selling used equipment, as well as buying in bulk large equipment from vendors Vulcan and Beverage Air and American Manufacturers, warehousing that product and having it on site when the customer needed it.

And that’s, that was a strength of the business then, and it’s still a big strength of what we do every day because the independents don’t have time. They’ve got one range, one refrigerator, one fryer, and when it goes down we’re, we have it in stock and get it to them very quickly. So that’s a real short nutshell, and I’m sure Howard could probably elaborate, but that’s the, the basis.

Larry came into the business. I don’t know how, when did Larry start, Howard? No, I don’t know. I would say Larry was probably in his. He always worked around it, but I would say he was probably in his late 20s, early 30s, when he started to get involved. Mo was Larry always refers to him as a horse trader, and he would be working in his deli and he’d be at the slicer.

Slice of corned beef. And, he knew a lot of the other local independent restaurant owners and someone would come in and say, Oh my God, my refrigerator broke. I’ve got all this food. It’s going to spoil. What am I going to do? And Mo somehow miraculously through his little network could find a refrigerator instantly.

And, I think that if you looked at our business, the way it’s structured, it really comes out of that time for two particular reasons, especially in the early days to what John was saying, we were always in stock ready to ship. Now, when we started out in Columbus, Ohio, we were in stock and you just come get it.

Your refrigerator went down, you came, you picked it up, you were done. So that was one of the cornerstones. Today, because there’s so many SKUs, what we do is we stock probably the 80 20 rule, the 20 percent of the stuff that 80 percent of the people want, and we have that in stock ready to go, but we have a huge amount of merchandise ready for dropship.

The other pillar that was really important was Mo believed it’s got to be an everyday low warehouse price. In other words, when something breaks, I need it now, I can’t wait for a sale. So I’ve got to have a place where I can go where I know the prices are going to be fair. I can get it right away. And the last pillar, which really came off of Mo and who he was, is that we have all restaurant experienced people.

So when someone comes into the store or they call our call center or they chat, on our website, they’re talking to somebody who can really relate to them. So many people, they’ll have technical advisors to help you check out, but they can’t tell you that you need a certain compressor in your refrigerator because you’re opening and closing a lot as opposed to using it for storage.

Our people know that, and that’s really all comes from Mo and, Our 50 year heritage. We never lose sight of those three things.

That’s super value added what I’m hearing. And what’s really striking me now, Howard, is I’m looking behind your desk and I’m seeing the restaurant equipers difference.

And we’re talking about three ways to shop. I can see bulk warehouse pricing, non commissioned product advisors. That’s great because they don’t have an incentive to push something down your throat. It’s yeah. They are salaried people and it’s we care about every customer’s experience. We care about giving them knowledge and giving them best advice and not just trying to sell them something.

And I think there’s a lot to be said for that. It is it’s a grave disservice. to sell someone quote, the cheapest refrigerator because it won’t recover or the cheapest fryer. It just won’t recover fast enough. So someone will come in and they’re saying, I’m starting a restaurant and I’m on a budget and I only have so many dollars, but that’s where, and John can speak to this way better than I can.

That’s where our buyers Travel, literally travel the world. In fact, they’re just getting ready now. They’ve got their bags here on rollers today, and they’re getting out to head out. And they travel the world. And what we’ll do is we’ll take the best components from the best brands and look at those specifications, and then we’ll work with vendors to build, our exclusive product which is on par so that we can give that independent restaurant owner really the best value so that they don’t have to buy necessarily the cheapest fryer but they can get the best fryer for what they’re trying to accomplish at a price that they can afford.

That’s a beautiful thing. We talked about the founder perhaps maybe starting out with used equipment and I know lots of communities in this country have those used equipment dealers and I think you yourself said or I think maybe John mentioned that word horse trader and it’s like the used car salesman.

It’s like their job is to move the merchandise, they’re getting things because restaurants Unfortunately, go out of business frequently and they turn over quickly, but you don’t really know what you’re getting. A lot of them will promise you, Oh, there’s a 30 day warranty on this, but it’s like then 31 days later and the compressor goes and what you buy is what you get what you pay for.

But I really like the fact that you educate people, you can work with different price points, you have the volume pricing, and I think you said it best by saying when you need something now. You don’t have time to drive to some place and look at used equipment or call on the phone and try to shop the stuff.

You just need to know that You’re going to get something that works. It’s going to fit your needs and the price you pay is going to be a fair price and the value is going to be there. So with that said, um, unfortunately, a lot of us in this business are cost conscious and we look at things as a cost versus an investment.

And I’m always trying to educate people that, again, you get what you pay for. And if you’re going to be in business a while, you want something that’s not only going to meet your needs, but be able to, you can grow into it. Do you see certain customers that you might deal with for the first time, or some of your salespeople are talking to your customers and you see them making mistakes or their thought process isn’t quite right, and you don’t want to insult them, but you certainly want to steer them in the right direction.

What mistakes do you commonly see people looking for equipment make?

I think you hit the nail on the head, Roger. It’s they’re not looking at it as an investment. They’re looking at it at a cost, and it’s very true, and our sales people will scream it To the hills that they buy on price, and going back just a little bit, you guys, you talked about a value add of trying to get the customer what they need versus a commission sale.

As I said, I’ve been here for a long time. And I started out. I sold all the equipment that I sold to the company, and as a salesman, I sold it to customers because I knew everything about it, right? One of the things that I’ve really learned and really enjoyed about the company is just that. We’re here to help and direct them past those mistakes that new operator, often falls into.

And, price can certainly be one of those things. Obviously do a lot of replacement business, but we also do a lot of business with new customers coming into the business that are, they’ve got a good product, they know what they want to do, they’re passionate about it, but they don’t really know the business operation or the restaurant operation, and that’s where we can help.

When customers are coming in and buying on price, we can really try to, if they’re value added or they’re looking for the best value, our staff knows where they can cut some corners, where they want to spend their money, you talk to them about what their menu is and what’s important in their production, whether it’s speed or quality or whatever it is, and you’re trying just to steer them to the right product versus the price.

Very often that new customer, they do tend to gravitate to that low price. But, we do the best we can to try to direct them to really what’s going to meet their needs. Whether, so example, so Howard mentioned a fryer a couple minutes ago. We sell a basic import fryer that we’ve imported, and it’s a great fryer.

We put a lot of time in development. We’ve replaced it a few times, and it’s a great fryer. But if the guy’s a, his primary business is wings and fries. or wings and fish, that isn’t the best fryer for him. He’s just not going to get the production, so you’re trying to move them into, a 70 or an 80 pound fryer or a couple of them and a battery along with a, a filter machine, because filter machines are one of those things that people don’t recognize the value there.

The return on investment on a filter for the fryers, just those things that people don’t know, and again, I’ve said it a lot of times, it’s And it’s in the blood of our salespeople is just trying to get people what is going to work for them and not what’s not going to work for them. So there’s just all kinds of examples in our selection that I could talk to, but that was just one example.

Thanks for pointing that out. Because again, especially a new operator would not be aware of the cost of fryer oil has gone through the roof. And if you don’t have. Fryer oil that lasts a long time. You’re just spending a lot of money on oil when if you have the right filtration product, it’s extending not only the life of the oil, but the flavor profile, the foods that are coming outta that fryer.

And that’s something that a new operator wouldn’t know, but your salespeople are gonna educate and tell somebody that. And there’s probably a hundred examples just like that, but I think that’s a good one. It’s like you don’t want to trip over, trip over dollars to save pennies here, when one piece of advice like that will make that purchase not only valuable unto itself, but save you money with something that’s part of that product.

I’m really glad you pointed that out.

To build on what John was saying and go back to your original question, it’s how do you bring it up with them with, bring it up to the customer without, sounding insulting and, you understand that they’re on a budget. And I think that goes to being comfortable with who you’re buying from.

And I really think that’s where the equippers difference really shines. And I think it’s interesting, Roger, that you notice the poster on the on the wall there, but it really, these people that they’re talking to have been there. The reason that most of the people that work for us, They love the restaurant industry, but they have families and the hours are just killer.

They are. No question. They can come to work here and they can be involved in the industry and work with different restaurants, but they have a chance to really use their craft and help people. You asked like common mistakes. The first time a customer comes in, They don’t even know, measurements.

I can’t tell you the number of times in the past where we’ve delivered, a refrigerator and it doesn’t fit. Yes. Our people are so skilled at how much space do you have? What kind of power do you have? All these things, because what we want to do is we want to avoid a mistake, because a mistake costs way more.

And an error of omission, not even looking at your power or looking at your physical plant, but you buy all this equipment and it shows up and it doesn’t fit. So we really work hard. to prevent that type of thing. And John works with these people. He manages, all the stores and everything.

And he is so meticulous about the people that are working in those stores and in our call center. It is, it’s really a great place to be.

I’ll just add to that just a hair. Those mistakes. Again, I’ve been selling equipment for a long time. This was probably 2004, and it was an experienced operator.

He came in to buy a walk in cooler, and I could sell him a walk in cooler, but I didn’t know a whole lot about walk in coolers at the time. And I’ve learned over time, but I sold him this walk in cooler. That was not what he wanted. It’s not what he needed. I didn’t ask the questions. And so I’ve learned over time and tried to convey and train within all our staff, all those questions that you got to ask.

I sold him a walk in cooler and he was using it for beer and it was getting warm beer and it’d never cool it down in time and I made a huge mistake and it was very costly. And unfortunately in any business, there’s always mistakes and we always learn from those and we try to convey those to our group.

So just elaborating on Howard’s point of. Yeah, that can be costly if you don’t ask the right questions,

one of the benefits that, that you have is not only do you have an extensive brand network of the top brands that, that have the quality and have the reputation, but also at different price points too.

So there’s a choice there. Let’s talk about some of these brands. What are your, some of your most popular brands that everyone’s heard of that that just really stand out in terms of refrigeration, ice makers, cooking equipment, stoves, ovens, all these things. These are the bigger pieces that people buy, but what are some of your

brands?

We have a number of exclusive brands that were a big part of our sales category, and they’re becoming more well known. Byrd, particularly, our refrigeration brand. It’s fairly well known in the industry. We’ve got a lot of product that’s now Energy Star. People quote that brand. I see it quoted elsewhere.

Patriot Platinum, some of our cooking brands are certainly well known at this point in the industry. We’ve engineered them to be. on par with the competition. And then to your point, we carry the Blodgetts of the world and the Southbends and Langs and all the cooking equipment brands that you know out there.

Refrigeration, we’ve got Turbo Air and Atosa and Beverage Air Magali, all these all well known brands across the country. Known, for sure. Yep. And so we try to carry A little bit of everything for everybody that’s what they’re needing, whether it’s, that opening price point or that really nice logic combi oven and everything in between.

In stock, we tend to focus on the everyday products. And in our drop ship programs, we tend to focus on those products that are less commonly needed, but certainly available in our selection. One of

the things that come to mind when buying equipment, we’ve already talked about the value, we’ve already talked about pricing, we’ve talked about expert advice from people that have been in the industry for a long time, and all these things are benefits.

But then we talk about the importance of warranties and the process of what happens if you have a problem with a product. Is it a repair? Is it a replacement? How does the whole process work? And what is life expectancy of a nice piece of equipment that you buy? And I’m sure that varies, but just an overview of those things would be really

helpful.

Sure. Life expectancy, I’ll start at life expectancy and back up to warranty. So life expectancy, and you’ve probably heard it before, is not what it used to be, but that isn’t always the case. Generally, life expectancy is greatly reduced by. User competency meaning you can buy that fryer or that refrigerator that life expectancy from the manufacturers, maybe five to seven years, but if it’s taken care of, it’s easily seven to 10.

We’re still in the ballpark or in the business of use. So we do a little bit of buying and horse trading with used equipment. But it’s, and when we see it, when it comes back, if it’s, Being traded in, it’s probably because it wasn’t maintained in the field. Um, dirt in the pilot assembly or just bad regular, irregular cleaning of your condensers, those types of things that really to reduce the life of the machine.

But backing up to how that warranty process works most everything is handled through the manufacturer, but the customers don’t really think that initially. We always are happy to take that call and direct the customer in how to get their piece serviced as quickly and as inexpensively as we can.

So they call us. based on they know us and they don’t, haven’t looked inside their unit to see what the phone number is to call the manufacturer. So they call us, we find their receipt, talk to them about simple problems, if it’s a simple troubleshooting thing, if we can help over the phone, or then provide them with a, the proof of purchase and direct them to the right service company.

And that’s generally the process. Like I say, we do handle used equipment some, and we service that with in house folks and It’s, you talked about the troubles in buying used. One of the things about buying used and warranty is buy from somebody you know. Don’t buy it online across the country because you don’t know what’s going to come in and that 30 day warranty is possible.

We take care of the customers on that standpoint from used equipment as well as new equipment. But that’s, in a nutshell, that’s how it goes. Most of the manufacturers are covered by nationwide network of service agencies that we can direct that customer to.

But from a customer service plan standpoint, we do have a warranty person on our staff that they can call and speak to, and we’ll hook them up.

We actually have three that are dedicated to that. And we recently added, as a request from a lot of our customers, an extended warranty program as well. So we Roger, I can’t stress to you how we bend over backwards to help the customer. Somebody could buy something that’s five, six years old, it could be way out of warranty.

But we’ll fight for them. That doesn’t mean we want a bunch of people calling up saying, Oh, my thing broke, I’ll have to call those guys today. But, If we can help that customer, we can find a way to help that customer. We’re going to do it. And I think that’s the reason why we have so many people who, they really only shop with us.

That’s called reputation. That’s called peace of mind. That’s called, I know they’re going to have my back if something goes sideways. And that’s relationships. This is a business of relationships. And it’s obvious that it’s very important that you build lasting relationships with your customers. And we feel

comfortable with that.

I think there’s another important point there that we sometimes forget, especially in this day and age of big business, but we’re a family owned business, and we are a family owned business as is really 95 percent of the world. Our customers and so we get it and it’s still going into the old hardware store, except if you walk into one of our stores and we do only, we have three, but they’re super stores. They are literally home depots of. Restaurant equipment. You don’t walk in and see five ranges. You don’t see aisle. Choices are endless, huh? Yeah. Yeah. So when you ask about the brands and, you, you’d walk down that line, you’ll see Turbo Air, you’ll see Beverage Air, you’ll see Berg, you’ll see, all kinds of brands of product.

And the same is true in the fryer line or in the grill line or wherever you go. So that’s

really exciting to shop one of your warehouse stores. It’s like going in a new car dealership and getting a new car. As owners and operators, we get really excited about this stuff because we see the possibilities.

We know what we want to do and we walk in there and it’s like being in a candy store. It’s we want one of everything and sure we’re on a budget, but we’re going to walk out of there feeling great about this new purchase. And I can’t wait to set it up and get it up and working and what it’s going to do for my business.

That’s thrilling. That’s how I felt when I was in the business. Our owner often says it’s like where dreams come true. For our front door, it’s like walking into Disney World because everything’s there. I’ve heard customers use the kid in the candy store to line thousands of times, though I’ve heard it once in here.

So shopping those stores is an experience. It’s not just the equipments lined up and there’s the price tag on it. It’s there’s the people on the floor answering questions. It’s merchandised in a certain way. It I’ve never been to one of your stores personally, because I’ve ordered online, but it’s like when you walk into one of these stores, I’m sure everything is arranged so that you can visualize that equipment in your business.

Awesome. Let’s go back to preventative maintenance because I think that’s critically important because as operators, it’s almost an afterthought once you put something in place to really think about a duty roster and a maintenance schedule on it. And that’s so vitally important when our biggest thought is, okay, we want to get the food out on time.

We want the quality to be there. We’ve got labor problems and staffing issues and all this kind of stuff. And sometimes that maintenance gets deferred or put to the back burner. And I know that every equipment manual comes with a recommended maintenance, but it’s always in the back of the owner’s manual, and it’s it’s an afterthought.

Is there any kind of an education process or a template that restaurant owners can follow about how often and what to do and vacuum out the filters and all that sort of stuff? Because every piece of equipment is different, but this is a big deal, and it’s very important to get the most out of your

equipment.

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Listen, from one restaurateur to another, and I hope you GMs out there listening as well are paying attention, you know, marketing should never be an experiment, oh, I tried this or I tried that, no, any of your valuable dollars that you spend on marketing should absolutely be trackable, you should know exactly what you’re doing.

where the business is coming from, and that it’s driving return on your investment. You spend a certain amount of money, you want to make far more money in return from that marketing, if you can track it. So pay attention. My friend Dyson runs a business called The Birthday Club, and his program is done for you.

Because we know that everybody dines out on their birthday. It’s a tradition. It’s a celebration. But not only do they not come in by themselves, they bring many friends with them. They usually have free spending and large check averages. It’s very profitable business. So why leave it to chance? Why let your competitors get all the birthday business?

So again, the birthday club is a done for you program. All you have to do is check out www. thebirthdayclub. com. Jointhebirthdayclub.com/birthdayRockstar. It’s a great program. If I still owned and operated restaurants today, after decades, it’s something I would definitely be doing, it’s worth checking out.

Jointhebirthdayclub.com/birthdayrockstar.

It was drilled into me when I worked in corporate restaurant, exactly what you said, having that, living that maintenance schedule. And I carried that into my business, but you’re exactly dead on in, in the priority list for the average restaurateur. That is down the list. The manual’s in the cupboard.

It hasn’t been out since they bought the product. It’s just, that’s super common. But one piece of advice I really recommend if it’s, if that restaurant tour is. Just not that hands on in that regard. Enlist a preventative maintenance refrigeration guy that comes in, it’s on his schedule, he stops by once a month, cleans all your refrigeration, because that’s a big part of maintenance in a restaurant.

Your cooking equipment’s generally a little bit more stable. Your refrigeration has fans and moving parts and the compressor. So if you can get on a regular PM schedule with There’s lots of guys, refrigeration guys, that’ll do it. It’s a, it’s just one of my best piece of advice I can give to that new owner.

Unless they are hands on technical and they don’t mind doing that stuff. Because I know it goes back of the bus and it just doesn’t get done and that’s why we have You hear the warranty problems that you do. The same can be done on the hot side. If you’re the guys that do hood cleaning, they can also do, cleaning on your equipment.

But really, the mom and pop operator, one location, two locations, they just have to drill that into themselves and the staff to do it on a regular basis and recognize if they’re not going to do that. Have somebody else do it because it’ll pay off in the end. Yeah,

that’s excellent advice. And efficiency is important too, because if your pilots aren’t burning blue, and if you’re wasting a lot of propane or gas, if you’re using that type of fuel, you’re just costing yourself more money by not having it maintained.

And having somebody that you can count on a regular schedule that just comes in, gives you that peace of mind also. I certainly did that with my refrigeration guy. And refrigeration is something that does require maintenance, whether it needs a recharge, Or, if it’s an ice maker, having it cleaned out, because that’s a Board of Health issue.

Some Board of Health inspector comes in, sees mold in the hoses, because maybe you shut it down because you were a seasonal business and you forgot to get it cleaned out and then you turn it on, you’re making ice and it’s you’re making people sick. All these things are super important.

So I’m glad we put some emphasis on that. Let’s shift gears here and talk about trends in equipment. What’s really hot. What do you guys like blowing out that everybody’s talking about? Everyone has

to have. I read you gave me that question before this, and I was thinking about it, and it was, um, it’s funny.

Restaurant is, it’s pretty simple. You’re cutting stuff up, you’re cleaning it, you’re heating it, you’re cooling it down, and you’re serving it. The trends in just cooking food have been around for thousands of years, right? But And there’s always things that come up, and there’s, the tech side of things has not been really well received in our customer base yet, but certainly the tech side of things we’re forced a little bit with COVID and, QR codes for menus and those types of things, but one of the things, and we don’t sell it, and this isn’t a product that is even in our offerings, but I think for the mom and pop it’s, Big and it’s getting bigger and that’s, everybody has to have a point of sale system and there’s tons of them out there, Toast and Clover and all those guys, Touch Bistro, and I don’t think the average operator recognizes the value in that and what, what comes with what they call like CRM system customer relationship management system.

The early CRMs were. Owners that were there every day that knew all their customers names and their birthdays and all those things, where if you have a point of sale that you can incorporate that information and gain that customer data, where you’re reaching out to them on a regular basis, for the independent operator that’s going down and buying bread and produce, that it can have a CRM that’s building that customer relationship digitally, I think it’s huge.

And I’m not selling that product, but I think from a hot trend in the business, I think really any independent operator should be in that area, but certainly in the last number of years, speed ovens have been a trend There’s a number of great manufacturers in that business.

Sustainability, buying products that last as well that are produced ecologically sound. I think our customer base is very tuned into the green movement. It’s a, it’s a, it’s just, it’s very common conversation in our our base.

I think the I think that the trends tend to come more from a menu design standpoint than an equipment design standpoint.

Now elaborate for a minute. We have some, we sell some sous vide machines and things like that. That’s new. Induction was new for a while, but that’s, historic because one of the reasons why it’s you know, pretty common now, but it’s interesting, Rodger, you’ve seen our catalog that we send out, right?

I mentioned to you earlier that, that, I got fired the first time I worked here. And it goes to understanding the business. And it was like we wanted to do a a catalog just for ice cream shops or just for Asian food or just for Mexican cuisine, something like that. And they’d look at me and they’d say we’ll do a postcard and that’ll cost X when we can mail the whole catalog.

And anyhow, 80 percent of what they have in the restaurant is pure friendly restaurant. Even if you’re making pizza, you have ovens, you have, megatops, you have all those things. So why waste? And I think that’s really interesting about our business. You need an oven.

John was talking about the hot side and the cold side and, the prep side and the tools. So much of the business, even as menu items change and food trends change, the stuff you use to make it changes. Really, for the most part, stays pretty much the same. And I think that’s, it goes again to our people and understanding business and how to make it easy for the restaurant owner.

That’s interesting when we talk efficiencies and just to take that to the next level, we’re seeing a lot of robotics in this industry mainly because of the labor. Issues, right? And staffing. And not only is it a novelty to see a robotic on the floor that takes away your dishes or delivers the food or whatever, but automation is super important.

Are you seeing a huge trend forward in time saving equipment that is more automated, that takes less labor perhaps to create a product? And is that a huge seller now? And is that same power? Yeah. What’s that?

Say it again,

I’m sorry. Does it have staying power? Is that something that you see will always be a need, like the most efficient, most automated thing that takes very little labor, that does a majority of the process, so it just comes like conveyor belt ovens for pizzas, right?

There’s a prime example. You could have regular Blodgett ovens in the old school pizzeria, and then if you’re a little bit more specialty like me, you had a wood burning brick oven, and there you go, but then Automation came in and now you got these conveyor belt toasters and conveyor belt pizza ovens, and that’s clearly labor saving and time saving and it’s consistent product all the way.

That must be a trend that’s going to continue in multiple pieces of equipment, I would guess. Yeah, I

have no doubt. I think you hit it. The conveyor oven is a classic example. It takes the skill out of the position and makes it automated and consistent product and all those types of things, and certainly I think.

The automation from a robotic standpoint is coming. You see it at the trade shows, you see it in the trade magazines, and I think our base is a little bit Distant from that, I think maybe 10, 10 years down the road, we might be seeing some robotic arms in our kitchens, but we’re not quite there yet. I, that’ll be, that’ll come through the chains and it’ll come through the West and East coast and then it’ll make it to the base, but it’s coming and it will definitely, it’s not a trend.

It’s going to go forward. I have no doubt.

There’s three different ways, that we can do business with you. You can, of course, shop those exciting warehouse stores that we talked about. Now, Ohio and New Jersey. Is Michigan the third one? Okay, so Michigan, Ohio, New Jersey, huge warehouse stores.

How many square footage are some of these stores?

They average about 40, 000 square feet and so our New Jersey store is a little bigger, Detroit’s a little smaller, and then Columbus, our hometown building is unusual. It’s worth a visit. Four floors and all kinds of funny corners and stuff like that.

And you’ve got a huge catalog and I just received the most recent one. And it’s really exciting to flip through because it triggers ideas and whether you need it or not, sometimes you’ll look at something and it pops in your head wow, that could advance my business forward.

What’s interesting about that, Roger If you park in our parking lot and you just watch the store.

Yeah. And you watch the people come in, the majority of them get out of the car and they’re carrying the catalog with them and they bring it to the store. They brought ’em in. Yeah. They bring them in and usually they either have pages circled or they have a list or whatever, or they come in and they open to the page and they say to the person, this is the item I’m looking for.

And you hear everything’s done on the web and everything’s this and that, but you stand in front of our store and you’ll see nothing but people getting out of their cars, carrying that catalog.

Now, it’s one thing if you’ve got a pickup truck and a lot of people do, and they can show up at the back door and you guys will help them load it in and all that.

But you also offer delivery service within a certain range of these warehouse stores. How does that work? Or you just contract with the shippers and then you’ll ship it to them depending on how far they are.

Yeah, so a big percent of our business is shipped. We ship all over the country, but we, our primary area of influence is like Texas East and the East Coast and certainly the Midwest.

And we ship all over the country with a couple of, a few different partners that do it very well. One of Our freight carriers, R& L carriers, we have great relationships with. They’re just a wonderful partner. Certainly FedEx and FedEx Freight and some other carriers. But locally, you’d ask about do we deliver locally?

Yeah, we do. On our own trucks, we uncrate product, put casters on it, get it ready to go. and bring it in to where the customer needs it, whether it’s in their kitchen or, I think about Philly in particular, that’s, our guys that deliver in Philly, I have so much respect for. You think about those downtown buildings and little tiny doorways and little alcoves they have to go into.

But yes, we do offer it and we do the best we can there. We’ve got some situations, oh, I shouldn’t, Yeah, Ralph’s Italian restaurant in South Philly. It’s a house, it’s got these little doors and we do the best we can. We try to get it where it needs to go and yeah, that is certainly a service that we offer locally as well as shipped around the country.

I’m glad you mentioned that. Go ahead, Howard. To that point, we do Stock. We have a almost 300, 000 square foot distribution center here in Columbus. And I said earlier, we stock the 80, the 20 percent of the goods that make up 80 percent of the sales. So that stuff. We’ll usually ship out depending what time you order it.

A lot of times it’ll ship the same day or for sure the next day. Then we have, John was talking earlier about let’s take a Turbo Air sushi cabinet. That’s something that we’ll order from the manufacturer. It will ship from the manufacturer in that case. But the majority of the products, you can either get them in the store the same day, You could order it online.

If you’re in a market where there’s a store, you can come pick it up or, it’ll go through our just our distribution center and we’ll ship it out either usually same day or next day.

Deliveries with anything east of the Mississippi, we’re going to get the product anywhere from one to four days.

It’s, you get down to Florida, it might take as many as three or four days, but shipping the same day or next, it’s usually a two day point anywhere on the Eastern part of this country. That’s

super fast. I can’t imagine getting anything quicker unless you picked it up yourself and drove it right to your location.

Exactly. That’s a huge benefit also. Now, food trucks are super hot right now. You’re doing a lot of business with food trucks. Let’s talk about that. That’s one of the easiest ways of getting into the restaurant business, relatively inexpensively versus a bricks and mortar place that you got to fit out everything and, the lease and all that kind of stuff.

Let’s talk about some of the things that you do with the food truck industry and the business.

Sure food trucks really started hitting us, I’d say probably Eight or so years, eight, maybe 10 years ago, growing. And over the last, since just prior to COVID, it’s become such a big part of our business.

There’s a couple local manufacturers that are pumping out trucks every couple of days, it’s, and we’ve got some manufacturers in Georgia that we supply and it is, it’s. It’s right in our base because it’s that independent, he’s got a plan, he’s got a product, and he can get into it on a, on the cheap, which isn’t necessarily cheap, but it’s, it’s a lot less expensive than getting into a 6, 000 lease, for a brick and mortar.

We talk to the food trucks. We go to the food truck festivals. We stock all the products that they carry, and they put on the, we’ve actually even engineered someone from refrigeration that we’ve made ourselves to fit in that school bus that has the turn at the top so it can go all the way. Oh, yeah.

So we’re talking to and we’re talking to those guys all the time and trying to, learning the products that they need and what’s gonna fit and talking. It’s, again, there’s a lot of education that goes involved. They tend to work with builders that can give them some advice in that regard too, but it’s amazing how big that business has gotten the last number of years.

And certainly it’s a fun part of our business. They’ll pull up to our dock and you’re like okay, we got to get this there and you’re getting it through sideways. And it’s just a, it’s a fun niche and a good way to. For people to get started and a lot of people are going the other way with it I mean, there’s a lot of brick and mortar some established companies that it’s a great marketing piece for them as well as a moneymaker I think of a couple old time restaurants that have been in Columbus for decades And they all have food trucks now and it’s just another way to reach their customer So it goes both ways coming from the high end and coming from the guy that’s just really getting started

Do you see yourself ever getting into the truck or the trailer business as another offshoot or a brand extension?

As a bill?

I don’t think so. One of the things that, that you got to stick to what you know best. We know equipment and supplies really well, but we don’t, we don’t build food trucks, but I do think it’s interesting. I was just I was doing some reading and a huge portion of our business.

And I think this is a good point, Roger for your listeners. A good number of restaurants and people that come in our stores are opening for the first time. It’s a, it’s amazing how many new business people we get. And I was reading an article that people who start out in the food truck business actually tend to be more successful because the costs are a lot lower for entry.

And they also a large percent of them, I think something like 40 percent are still in business after three years. And we know what those statistics are for the brick and mortar business. Oh, yes. And so I think that it’s interesting that you bring that up. And I think that if you go to the right vendors and, even, go to your academy, And you really educate yourself coming in.

The data shows in the articles that I read show that the biggest reason people fail in the restaurant business is because they don’t have a plan and they don’t understand what the costs are going to be as they really get into it from a labor standpoint. They start with a great recipe or a great idea, and we ought to make the restaurant out of that.

And I think the food truck is a great way for people. To really test the waters. And to John’s point, so many of them go the other way and eventually open a brick and mortar business. Good

points. Absolutely. Let’s talk about, besides equipment, you have an extensive variety of supplies that restaurants need.

And is that everything from pots and pans to, plateware and silverware and knives? And tell us about your supply line.

You got it. We do, if somebody’s asking, I’ve been asked that many times by people out of the industry. We sell anything for everything from teaspoons to walk in refrigeration and everything in between.

We carry an extensive line, probably in stock, probably about 3, 500 SKUs from China, The tabletop caddies, ramekins, spoodles, prep, serving. We have the, it is really a one stop shop. I know that’s a cliche term, but we can really be a one stop shop for somebody trying to open or just replenish.

I got guys that I’ve known for years that, they come in. Three times a year. And they buy out all their smallers, replacing all their food pans and all their prep buckets and food storage and ladles and serving it as well as, we’re coming up on Cinco de Mayo. So we’re going to be selling a lot of brown speckled platters.

It’s a staple in that industry. And we sell from now until middle of May, we’re going to sell thousands of cases of that stuff. So we try to have all those basic needs every day. And it’s, it is a big list and it’s something we’ve worked on. Howard just talked about our buyers traveling the world.

This is a big part of this trip. We’re trying to expand some of those small offerings that are crucial. That guy doesn’t have that spoodle tonight. He’s in trouble, it’s funny, but all those things are important to the restaurant and we try to have them on the shelves to pick up or ship every day.

That’s a really great point for our audience because there’s so much value added and profitability to presentation and what I call wow factor. And you can sell 10 times the amount of an item by virtue of what it comes in or the kind of plate where it goes on. It complements the dish that you’re selling.

And in many cases, it may help those items sell themselves. I know in my case garlic knots were a huge app. My biggest, most profitable appetizer was, wood fired garlic knots. But the presentation it came in was like a metal cone on a base. And all we did was put a little parchment paper in there and there was a separate holder for the ramekin of homemade marinara sauce.

But the way it presented that item, it sold itself going through the dining room. And we had another, yeah, exactly. You know what I’m talking about? And then we had these, what they call Libby glassware, these super schooners with these, like a fish bowl with a stem. And we sold specialty drinks for 20 bucks a piece out of this 60 ounce goblet.

And it, it goes through the dining room and people say, what’s that? Bring me that. I want one of those. And you get this stuff and it’ll. Increase your sales and increase your profitability. So all you have to do is go to your website and just look at all the specialty items. It’ll give you new ideas about how I can increase sales of my stuff.

How can I dazzle my guests? Because this is entertainment. It’s show business folks. It’s not just about standard plateware anymore. It’s like, how creative can we get? And how can that increase sales? And I knew you guys have an extensive lineup of supplies to do just that. Let’s we’re almost done here, but how about financing?

Do you help anybody out with the equipment financing? We do. Special terms, that sort of thing. Let’s talk to

that. Absolutely. So we have four finance partners that we work with every day one primarily being an instant finance company that you can do instant finance on our website. You can do instant finance in our stores or talking to our one of our people in our call center.

It can, it’s very quick. It literally takes just a few minutes and rates are good. And we also have additional finance partners that are more traditional, where it is more of a traditional lease. And we have those listed on our website. We have a lot of customers that use that instant finance to really help them with their cash flow.

It’s It’s really more of a credit line. So they can just pay all their bills at the end of the month. They don’t have any interest on it, but they can get the stuff when they need it without having to worry, interrupt their cashflow during the month. So that’s a, it’s a really valuable tool for that, it saves time and money for the operator.

And then in addition to that, we’ll work with anybody. I, a year or so ago, I looked at all the number of companies that we’d actually dealt with customers. And it was like 87 finance companies that we’d actually. done finance packages with for our customers. So if somebody wants to bring a finance company to us, whether it’s their bank or somebody they work with, happy to work with them, or we’ve got some great in house resources for that too.

Fantastic. You’re certainly making it as easy as possible for people to find what they need, maybe show them some things that they don’t think they need, but then, wow, here’s an opportunity, and then we can help you get it at a great price as well. And when you need it, on time. Yeah, that’s equippers.

com. And we talked about the catalog. We talked about the website. You also have an 800 number where you can instantly talk to experienced salespeople. What’s that number offhand? It’s an 800 number.

800 235 3325. Awesome.

We’re going to share all this in the show notes to this episode as well. We’ve covered a bunch of ground today.

Howard, John, can’t thank you enough. Anything we missed, anything you’d like to talk about Equippers or the industry in general?

I’m sure we’ve missed quite a bit, but we’ve covered quite a bit, too. I don’t have anything else particularly I’d like to cover. Howard?

The only thing I Roger, I’ll go back to what you said before.

We make it really easy for the customer to shop. We make sure our pricing is right. So that you don’t have to worry about a sale because we know when you need it, and you can’t wait for a sale. We’re not gonna, we’re not gonna mess around with things like that. And our people are really , dedicated to making it right for the customer.

And really those are the pillars of And what this business has been like for over 50 years. And the last thing I would say is, we’re family, just like all these restaurant owners.

That speaks volumes about the word trust and reliability and about, being in this industry, like I said, pride and passion and relationships and your company certainly demonstrates all those qualities.

So I’m really happy to have you as guests on the podcast today. Thank you, Roger. Pleasure being here, Roger. Thank you, gentlemen. That was the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. Thanks so much to our audience for tuning in. Thank you so much to our sponsors. Can’t wait to see in the next episode. So stay tuned and stay well.

People go to restaurants for lots of reasons, for fun, celebration, for family, for lifestyle. What the customer doesn’t know is the thousands of details it takes to run a great restaurant. This is a high risk, high fail business. It’s hard to find great staff. Costs are rising and profits are disappearing.

It’s a treacherous road and smart operators need a professional guide. I’m Roger. I’ve started many highly successful, high profit restaurants that I’ve now sold for millions of dollars. I’m passionate about helping other owners and managers not just succeed, but knock it out of the park. I created a game changing system and it’s filled with everything 20 years running super profitable, super fun restaurants.

Everything from creating high profit menu items and cost controls, to staff training where your teams serve and sell, to marketing hooks, money maximizing tips and efficiencies across your operation. What does this mean to you? More money to invest in your restaurant, to hire a management team, time freedom and peace of mind.

You don’t just want to run a restaurant, you want to dominate your competition and create a lasting legacy. Join the Academy and I’ll show you how it’s done.

Thanks for listening to the Restaurant Rockstars podcast. For lots of great resources, head over to restaurantrockstars. com. See you next time.

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