If you’re like most folks, you know that buying used can save a lot of money. Many people extend this beyond their homes and into their business as well.
Sometimes this can work out to your advantage, particularly if you’re trying to avoid a loan, or you find used equipment at a great deal. But remember because something is cheap doesn’t mean it’s a deal.
Maybe you own a restaurant or are planning to open one, and thought about buying a used walk-in cooler. Before you do that, check out these reasons why it might not be the best investment for your business, and what you should do instead.
1. Know That Sanitary Issues Can Cause Problems If You Weren’t Aware of Them
One of the number one concerns with buying used equipment for a restaurant is understanding what kind of condition it was kept in before purchase. Check for problems that could pose a threat to your restaurant if you purchased it.
Was there mold growing in the cooler? Evidence of rodents or other pests, such as roaches? Even if they lived in the drain, this still gets considered a sanitary issue that you don’t want to deal with.
State inspections should reveal if there was an issue with a particular restaurant and if they had rodent or bug problems. Check and see how clean the cooler looks. You’ll want to avoid it if you see evidence of spoiled food, bugs, or rodent droppings.
If you find any evidence that these problems were present in the cooler, err on the side of caution and don’t buy it. You’ll save money and a headache of cleaning and keeping it up to code in the long run.
2. Find Out If There are Issues With the Thermometer in the Cooler
A cooler that doesn’t hold or display the proper temperature can cause problems for the food its housing. Food either becomes too hot or too cold, causing it to spoil.
This causes problems when there’s an inspection by the state. If they read the thermometer and discover that it’s broken, you’ll encounter fines and other problems that can hinder your business.
If you don’t know the thermometer is broken, the food will either get thawed out and become unsafe for customers to eat. If it gets too cold, freezer burn becomes a problem, also having a bad effect on how the food tastes.
3. Is the Used Walk-In Cooler Up to Current Code?
While choosing an older cooler means you can save money on getting the equipment you need at a lower price, it doesn’t always work that way in the long-term.
If you choose an old walk-in cooler, there’s a good chance it isn’t energy efficient. This means you’ll end up paying more money for energy used to keep the cooler running properly, which makes for a higher bill. If you’re curious about coolers and energy efficacy, click for more.
Additionally, consider if there are problems with the cooler that prevent it from being up to code. Older coolers don’t possess some of the capabilities needed to ensure food safety is getting monitored properly. This can range from the fan motor currently installed to the type of wattage required for the light sources.
4. Check for Signs of Rust or Other Wear and Tear
While it’s obvious that used equipment comes with some wear and tear the question is how much is acceptable? Walk-in coolers that have obvious signs of rust or broken or missing parts are something to avoid purchasing.
Just as you take care in purchasing furniture for your restaurant, do the same with a used walk-in cooler. Look for signs of rust and wear both inside and out.
Make a point to check the doors. Find out if they close properly, or if there’s some other issue, such as moisture getting in or a seal that isn’t tight enough.
While these problems can sometimes get rectified quickly, figure out what all you’re dealing with up front. If there are too many issues, it’s better to simply buy new and avoid the task of fixing.
5. Try to Find Out the History of the Cooler and Why Its Getting Sold
Knowing the story behind the cooler can tell you if it’s worth buying. How long was it used at the previous restaurant? Did it have a major problem that wasn’t fixable, or did the owner feel an upgrade was better for their own reasons?
Asking these questions is important to get an idea of what you’re walking into by making an investment with the cooler. Even if you’re trying to avoid the price tag that’s associated with something brand-new, you can make a better decision if you know the history of the merchandise you’re interested in purchasing.
6. Figure Out If the Investment Will Last for Long
Finally, if the walk-in cooler you’re interested in seems like the right fit, ask yourself if it can meet your needs. Do you need something temporary for the time being, or is this an investment you want to last for years to come?
If it’s the right price and only temporary, you won’t have much to worry about, provided there are no serious issues. The same can be said even if you need something long term.
Know what you need, and make a purchase that can last for as long as you deem necessary.
Running a restaurant can bring about a lot of expenses. This includes the food, employees, advertising, and equipment to keep the place running properly. If you’re planning on purchasing a used walk-in cooler, make sure it has everything you need to get the job done properly.
If you’re still in the process of planning and opening your restaurant, we’re here to help. Check out our article on setting up your commercial kitchen layout, and learn how to make the most of your space.