Are you about starting a catering business but don’t know how to go about buying equipment? If YES, here are 10 helpful tips for buying used catering equipment. Starting a new catering business from home doesn’t necessarily you require all new equipment. You can buy quality used catering equipment such as utensils, stoves, ovens, refrigeration units, and so on for much cheaper prices. This will save you money in the short term, at least.

With many pieces of equipment, the money saved by purchasing used items is not worth the risk it entails. However, in most cases, buying used equipment is a smart way to save some of your startup capital. Without wasting time, below are 10 helpful tips for buying used catering equipment that will save you money in the long term.

10 Helpful Tips for Buying Used Catering Equipment

1. Buy gently used equipment

It goes without saying that the longer a product has been used, the shorter its remaining lifespan becomes. That is, products that have been used only for a short period will last longer than those that have been used for long. So, as a rule, don’t buy catering equipment that has been used for more than 3 years.

When buying equipment at auctions or from used equipment dealers, you must always ask how many years of regular use the equipment underwent. However, finding a trustworthy dealer who would reveal the truth regarding this is another issue.

2. Choose gas-cooking equipment

Gas cooking equipment such as char boilers and commercial gas boilers have few moving parts, so any major problems, such as leaks or operational defects, can be detected easily.

So, if you have the equipment inspected and confirmed to be in good working condition, chances are that you would be making a good purchase while saving a few hundred dollars. However, before buying any gas equipment, you must factor in the type of gas it uses, whether it’s propane (LP) or natural gas.

3. Go with reputable brands

When buying used catering equipment, you should choose those from top-of-the-line brands such as Vulcan, Traulsen, garland, Wolf, and so on. These brands have been long known for durable and long lasting products. So, products with those names will most likely last long.

4. Don’t buy used electric cooking equipment

Electric cooking equipment are easier to maintain and clean, and are generally more energy-efficient. However, buying them used is risky and so not advisable because they contain much more parts than gas equipment and are, therefore more prone to damages. Such damages may not be easily traceable and usually require an experienced technician or electrician to fix them.

5. Don’t buy used gas fryers

Avoid buying used gas fryers because they are at risk of causing a fire, since they combine cooking oil and an open flame—two flammable elements.

Gas fryers have a relatively low cost when purchased new, so it is advisable that you buy yours new. However, if you decide to purchase a used gas fryer, have it thoroughly inspected for worn out parts and leaks, first.

6. Buy dent and scratch equipment

Food service operators usually reject any new equipment that arrives dented or scratched and return them to the factory. Usually, the damage to such equipment never goes beyond cosmetic, but the manufacturer cannot sell at full price. If you are on a tight budget, buying such dented or scratched equipment is a smart way to save money, since the equipment will still be in a perfect working condition.

7. See the equipment in use

One of the best ways to avoid buying faulty used equipment is to see it in use. Although this is not always possible with large items such as commercial stoves or ovens, it is advisable to see the equipment in use where possible. This will help you ensure that the equipment is working and is fully functional.

8. Buy equipment still covered by warranty

If equipment hasn’t been used for too long, chances are that they will still be covered by a warranty, which provides a guarantee of quality and usability between the manufacturer and the consumer for a specified period. If possible, buy used products that are still covered by warranty. However, you must ensure that the warranty is transferable.

9. Request the operations manual

When purchasing catering equipment—especially those that are somewhat complex to operate—request for the operations manual. This will help you understand how to use the equipment and avoid damaging it due to wrong use.

10. Buy from reputable sources

Buy your used catering equipment from reputable sources, such as auctions or reputable used product dealers. You can also buy from reputable online marketplaces such as EBay. This way, you will avoid buying substandard or damaged products.