Jeff Akers has been burned a few times on "bargain" pizza equipment that was anything but a good deal. Remanufacturers he dealt with claimed they were selling him a good piece of equipment, but what he got was little more than a shiny steel case full of worn parts that were destined to break.
"We got bad ones into a store, watched them break and then found the seller wouldn't support it," said Akers, director of purchasing for Buck's Pizza in Dubuque, Iowa. "Those were some really bad situations, especially when it happened on a Friday night."
It took time, Akers said, to find a reputable used equipment re-manufacturer and dealer he could trust and who would back its work. That meant finding a firm that was knowledgeable enough to "literally talk to a franchisee over the phone and help him fix an oven in a lot of cases. That's somebody who knows what they're talking about."
"You can do quite a bit of research on their site, but what I found helpful was the personal follow-up I had with them," said Cohen, co-owner of Bene! Gourmet Pizza in Eugene, Ore. "They followed that up with a very high level of service, including suggestions I call other customers and the oven manufacturer."
Simplifying the shopping process
When pizza operators call Fash Asvadi, they learn they're speaking to more than an equipment dealer. Before founding PizzaOvens.com, he ran pizza shops in England and owned a six-store chain in Lexington, Ky., home to his equipment dealership. When deciding how to market his business, he saw the Web as essential to helping time-poor operators get concise facts, figures and photos quickly and at their own pace.
I knew from experience that nobody has a lot of time to research equipment, so I wanted a one-stop shop where someone could get unbiased advice," said Asvadi, whose company sells new and refurbished equipment. "We have a whole library of specifications for our ovens on our Web site, and it's free for anyone to browse. We also offer free technical help on certain makes and models."
Asvadi said he regularly hears stories like Akers', where operators get taken on bad oven deals. "They think they're going to save a dollar or two and go to somebody who's not reputable. But what they get is something totally different than what they expected. That shouldn't happen, but it does."
Cohen, who has purchased five ovens from PizzaOvens.com, called Asvadi's knowledge "unparalleled" due to his experience as an operator and his long-term relationships with manufacturers. "It's great to work with someone who knows them on a first-name basis. What his company gives you is relevant knowledge, and that helps me to make good decisions."