How does a foodservice design consultant differ from a foodservice equipment supplier?

By Steve Carlson

Why should you use an independent Foodservice Design Consultant instead of a foodservice equipment supplier?

What are your objectives? Do you want an efficient, functional design and to get the most competitive price on the best equipment for your operation? Then, you should use a Foodservice Design Consultant.

No matter how small your project, foodservice equipment is expensive; so it’s important to get the best equipment you can for your budget.

Is it worth 6-7% of the equipment value to have complete plans and specifications prepared for competitive bidding? Consider the alternatives. You could enter into a cost plus agreement with an equipment supplier, typically a 5-7% over factory invoice. With today’s competitive marketplace the mark-up on competitively bid projects is 2-3% over net. The difference almost pays for the bidding documents and you get the best equipment for your operation instead of the equipment from the manufacture with the best rebate to the supplier.

Large high end exhibition kitchen in restaurant

You could also have the equipment supplier draw the plans and write specifications, for a smaller fee or at no cost and then use those for bidding. But then what motivation does the supplier have to make the bidding documents as clear as possible if they hope to get the order for the equipment? What about quality design? Does the person preparing the design have experience working in a kitchen? Are they asking you questions about your operation, your menu, staffing, peak times, and slow times?

Other reasons to use an independent Foodservice Design Consultant

  1. Independent Professional Advisors    We work as an advocate for you and the facility. We make equipment recommendations based on menus and staff skill level. We recommend equipment that we know is easy to operate, maintain and that will achieve the best results. Since we have no financial relationships with manufactures, our recommendations are true, arms-length recommendations.
  2. Operational Based Planning    We develop plans from discussions with you centering on how the facility will be operated. Based on these discussions and our experience working in foodservice facilities we are able to design kitchens and bars that can operate efficiently on a Saturday night or a Tuesday morning.
  3. No Surprises   With 35 years of experience coordinating with Architects and Engineers, we anticipate to eliminate surprises. Our success depends on making sure Architects and Engineers understand the requirements for the equipment and include those requirements in their documents. We continuously improve our drawings, details, and communications tools, so there are no gaps between the equipment suppliers’ work and the work done by the General Contractor and the MEP trades. This means no surprises once construction starts and no costly change orders caused by a gap in responsibility.
  4. Accurate Cost Estimating   Since we have designed all types of facilities for many different market segments, we can provide accurate cost estimates for the programming phase through contract documents. Once the equipment plan is established, we use AutoQuotes software, the same system used by equipment suppliers, so we know the net price for all manufactured equipment. For custom fabricated and specialty equipment, we maintain a data base that is constantly updated with costs from current bids.
  5. Complete and Accurate Construction Documents   Our goal is to make sure clients receive the most competitive bids possible. This is the most important distinction. Our bidding documents are our finished product, not a preliminary step on the way to receiving an order to supply the foodservice equipment. How can a company that hopes to supply the equipment be motivated to make sure the client receives the most competitive bids as possible?
  6. Large Enough to Handle Your Project and Meet Your Deadlines   Design is all we do; we are not one department in a company that may sell equipment as well as food. We have a staff of 26 people divided into four teams. We can quickly create a team to manage your project. We are experienced at managing deadlines and projects. We have learned to be nimble – at any one time we have 200 active projects with constantly shifting schedules and deadlines.
  7. Pioneers in the use of BIM and Revit in Foodservice   We have been using BIM/Revit since 2009 and have led the industry in establishing standards for Revit for Foodservice equipment. We use Revit for the obvious benefits of the easy to understand 3D views; but we also make extensive use of the data that can be imbedded in the Revit families, so that we again communicate the special requirements for Foodservice equipment to the Architect and Engineers
  8. Multi-Disciplinary Experience   While we have designed many restaurants and bars, we also have worked for many years in Healthcare, College and University, Corporate, and Corrections. We have helped many of our restaurant and hospitality clients by incorporating into their operations technologies that we have used in high volume operations. We draw on ideas for efficient layouts from healthcare operations where the emphasis is on reducing labor and incorporate those ideas into our hospitality designs.
  9. Passion for Foodservice Design   Again this is our core business. Everyone who works at Rippe Associates has a passion for solving problems. Whether the problem be a client’s budget, a tight space, a short deadline, or an efficient-as-possible design – meeting these challenges is what gets us up in the morning.
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