As restaurant chains and franchise operators continue to seek operational improvement and cost savings opportunities, restaurant equipment parts partnerships have accelerated dramatically. Restaurant equipment parts — including cooking, refrigeration, beverage and ice machine parts — may be a relatively small portion of a restaurant’s overall purchasing spend, but they can be a high source of frustration and a meaningful opportunity for cost savings. Without a strong parts partnership, a restaurant chain can be exposed to over-spending for parts, increasing equipment downtime or even installation of non-authorized parts that can affect equipment performance, food quality and employee safety. There are several factors to consider when establishing a parts partnership.
Strong Customer Service = Productivity Improvement
One of the overriding goals of partnership should be simplifying the current process to improve productivity. Simplification and productivity improvement are largely driven by the customer service performance and commitment from the selected parts partner. Key elements of parts customer service include the ability to purchase via multiple channels to meet your specific needs (phone, fax, email and web), the expertise of the customer service team that will support you, and the availability of expert technical support. Ask potential partners to describe the customer experience they are committed to and how it is different from others you are considering.
Prompt Delivery = Reduced Downtime
Equipment downtime can be frustrating, disruptive and expensive. Downtime affects customers, employees and the bottom line. Fast delivery of parts is absolutely critical to reducing equipment downtime. The two critical factors in achieving delivery excellence are inventory availability and same day shipping. Basically, you want a partner that has the parts in-stock and will ship them the same day they are ordered. The key questions to ask potential partners are: (1) How do you model your inventory to ensure that our parts are in stock when we need them? (2) When is your “cut-off time” for same-day shipping? The high-performance parts partners will invest in the inventory that you need and will offer same-day shipping until very late in the day.
Useful Technology = Even More Productivity Improvement
The right technology can go a long way toward improved productivity and results. Emphasis should be on the right technology — meaning, the right technology for you. The most commonly used parts productivity tool is the Internet. It is key to select a partner with a fully commerce enabled website with the features you find important. Having access to images of parts, service manuals, real time inventory availability and order history are the basics. The ability for your partner to customize a website specifically for you takes this to another level. Other technologies can include integration to your ERP system, mobile optimized websites and apps that support your needs. Ask your potential partners what technology they offer and focus on the technologies that will truly deliver results for you.
Data = Accountability
You want a partner that stands by its commitments. This can be assessed by the willingness to provide data and analysis customized to your needs. Parts purchasing data can be very powerful in understanding not only the performance of your parts partner, but also the performance of your equipment. Parts spend by equipment model is a key factor in determining the lifetime cost of your equipment. Recognizing the parts that fail often can lead to internal operational improvements or valuable quality discussions with your manufacturer partners. Parts partners that measure themselves and provide visibility to their performance will typically perform at a significantly higher level.
Genuine = High-Performing & Safe
Most importantly of all, be sure that your parts partner only supplies genuine OEM parts. Genuine parts are parts that were purchased from the manufacturer of the restaurant equipment. Genuine parts are designed specifically for your equipment and are tested and quality assured by the manufacturer. Generic or non-authorized parts are readily available in the marketplace and pose significant risks to your operation. Use of generic parts can result in loss of your equipment warranty and agency approvals. Additionally, generic parts can cause equipment performance issues, food quality issues and increased energy utilization. Most significantly, generic parts can create safety and liability issues. Authorized, genuine OEM parts are the absolute best part for your equipment, your employees and your customers. Be absolutely sure to ask your potential parts partner if all of their parts are approved, genuine OEM parts.
In summary, a well developed parts partnership can add meaningful value to your operation. A strong parts partner will improve your productivity, reduce equipment downtime, and improve the lifetime performance and value of your equipment investment. Additionally, a strong parts partner will provide you with innovative technologies and value-added data that will help you take your business to the next level. And, most importantly, a strong parts partner will keep your equipment, employees and customers safe. With genuine parts, delivered fast, through a great customer service experience, you will achieve meaningful results and peace of mind.