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Four Ways the Right Foodservice Equipment Can Help You Survive a Recession

Four Ways the Right Foodservice Equipment Can Help You Survive a Recession


According to a February 2023 National Association for Business Economics (NABE) survey, the majority of economists believe there’s a 50% chance that a recession will happen within the next 12 months. For most businesses, the thought of an economic nosedive is tough to stomach. That's especially true for those in the foodservice industry who’ve endured their fair share of ups and downs over the last few years. The good news? There are many strategies and tools to help foodservice establishments thrive even in the toughest of times. Let’s look at four ways the right foodservice equipment can help you survive a recession.

1. Create a culture built on flexibility

First things first. Operations that understand what’s going on with the economy and roll with the punches will have an easier time sidestepping some of the effects of a recession. So, instead of clutching to the comforts of “how it’s always been done,” try leaning into a more flexible culture. This malleability allows your business to shift and change, explore new trends and adopt fresh strategies that will help you thrive in the toughest economic times.

Investing in portable equipment is one way to promote versatility within your operation. With portable equipment on hand, you can do things like shift dining and kitchen layouts to accommodate the most pressing revenue opportunities for your business. Let’s say your to-go traffic increases on Friday nights and Saturdays. With the right equipment, setting up a second cookline to capitalize on demand is a cinch. And when demand returns to regular levels, it’s just as easy to move your equipment around and revert to your original setup.

Want to pack up and take your kitchen on the road? Portable equipment like induction cooktops are multifunctional and can provide you with quick and consistent cooking for any food truck or pop-up kitchen experience. But why stop at induction cooktops; there are also warming units and workstations that operators can utilize for a wide variety of revenue-driving dishes — which is always a win in the throes of a recession.

2. Create delicious, budget-friendly menus

Being successful during a recession can often mean keeping your budget a little tighter. But that doesn’t mean your food offerings should suffer. So how can you create a crowd-pleasing menu while still making each meal a financial win? There’s plenty of ways.

One popular strategy is to slim down your menu. The truth is, customers don’t want to wade through pages and pages of entree options. That takes a lot of decision-making brain power. The old adage, “less is more,” really applies here. Research shows that people want some options — but not too many.

That’s great news for foodservice establishments. Smaller menus usually mean reduced food purchases. With fewer items in your inventory, there’s less opportunity for products to go bad and contribute to costly food waste. In addition, a small menu typically doesn’t take as much labor to produce as a larger one. And since food and labor costs are the lion’s share of most foodservice budgets, a trimmed-down menu can bring plenty of savings for your operation.

Another way to win guests over with your menu while keeping costs low is with “build your own” options. These types of offerings allow your guests to create entrees and sides that meet their personal-taste and price-point preferences. In addition, this budget friendly menu option gives operators the ability to charge appropriately for pricier items without creating a cost barrier for guests.

We’ve already covered some points earlier about a flexible culture, and that’s never more important than when changing up your menu. Opting for flexible equipment like a contact grill is one choice to consider. This unit can easily cook up paninis, quickly grill veggies or even sear a juicy steak. The options (and versatility) are endless. Just be sure to choose a high-quality grill that provides even heating across the plates to ensure you get the quality results that’ll keep customers coming back for more.

3. Change up your service model

There’s no two ways about it — how we serve food has forever changed in this post-COVID world. That’s not to say the traditional dine-in experience is any less valuable. There’s nothing quite like a night on the town, a dinner date or an office lunch meetup. But after years of prioritizing delivery and pickup, establishments and customers alike realized the power and convenience of off-premise eating.

From the lens of surviving a recession, off-premise eating has its perks. Operations don’t necessarily need to worry as much about the location of their establishment or the size of their dining area. Rather, it’s more about what you serve and how conveniently it gets to the customer. If you're looking to focus more on to-go, think about how that could change the footprint of your operation. Do you need to rent a building with such a large dining room? Could you rearrange your space and equipment to streamline workflows and capture more to-go revenue?

And of course, to make your to-go operation a success during a recession you’ll need the right type of equipment. Ever get tepid, not great takeout? Heated shelves are one solution that will help you maintain food’s optimal holding temperatures until it’s picked up.

Or consider an automated pickup locker like Hatco’s Flav-R 2-Go® Locker System. These impressive units hold meals within a secure, temperature-controlled cubby. Once the customer is ready to pick up their meal, they simply tap the screen, enter their unique code, and the appropriate door opens revealing their hot-n-ready meal. This equipment is especially helpful because it doesn’t require constant employee monitoring. And for the ultimate convenience, it can be set up in a completely separate area from your dine-in operation, easing long lines and boosting customer service.

4. Increase productivity

Talk of a recession often prompts customers and businesses to spend less and save more. And while accomplishing this happens in different ways, many foodservice professionals are boosting productivity in an effort to reduce the amount of money they spend on labor.

As you know, the right tools foster a more productive operation. Many modern kitchens today have automated equipment working alongside staff. This complementary pairing creates ideal conditions for the most productive outcomes. Programmable equipment offers presets for the correct temperature, cook time and blower speed for each different recipe. That ensures delicious meals are consistent each time, no matter who’s on the schedule.

Other solutions, like Hatco’s induction cooktops, have automatic shut-off and pan-sensing technology that helps conserve energy and increase safety. Additionally, there are some real futuristic things happening in kitchens. For example, White Castle employs a robotic arm to flip burgers. And Hatco, Ovention and Nala Robotics recently announced the development of an all-in-one robotic pizza solution that prepares pizza from start to finish — freeing up staff to focus on more pressing tasks and tend to customers’ needs.

Ready to thrive, no matter what?

While a recession can feel scary, it doesn’t have to. By equipping your operation with the right foodservice solutions, you can set yourself up to thrive in the midst of any economic downturn. Interested in how Hatco can help? Check out our equipment options today.

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