Time For Foodservice Equipment To Go ‘Custom’
Customization is perhaps the hottest trend right now in many segments of the restaurant and foodservice industry. More and more concepts are set up to let customers select the ingredients they want most in their meals. Marketing campaigns are being developed to appeal to individual demographic groups, frequent diners and new customers. Custom food display and serving equipment is booming, as operators seek to distinguish their operations and diversify their menus. But there is still one area of the industry where customization has yet to reach its full potential – equipment configuration.
Equipment manufacturers have long used product line extensions to provide operators with models that offer choice in dimensions, power requirements and capacities. But with so many would-be customers using the internet as their equipment research and purchasing platform, web site-based configuration functions represent an excellent opportunity for manufacturers to let operators customize their products and “have it their way.” The automobile industry has established itself as a leader in this type of product marketing. Allowing foodservice equipment customers to select the specific line-up of features, options and accessories that work best for their culinary programs can be more than just a sales tool. It also demonstrates that an equipment maker is assuring that restaurants and foodservices get the precise products they know they want, rather than settling for the closest approximation a factory can offer.
There are limits, of course, to how individually different types of kitchen equipment can be customized. But, as of now, no one really knows where those limits are. Features such as products’ sizes, outputs, mobility options and controls all seem to be likely starting points. Just-in-time manufacturing processes and computer-controlled metal forming machinery offer the prospect of speedy fulfillment of “one-off” orders.
Hard goods manufacturing has come a long way since the assembly line created the means to make as many of the same items as cheaply as possible. Now’s the time for foodservice equipment manufacturers to take the next step to accommodate customers desire for individualized products. And who’s to say that doing so won’t result in greater brand approval and a blacker bottom line?