If you answered ‘Yes’ to that question, you’re not alone. Every hospitality fit out usually entails some unique spacial or environmental challenges, that’s just the way it goes. But in recent years, as food and beverage service opportunities have diversified away from the traditional, the flood gates on what constitutes a great hospitality space have been knocked wide open.
Virtually anything goes, with enterprising bar and cafe entrepreneurs setting up shop in spaces with all sorts of unique challenges – from vast re-purposed industrial spaces to literal holes in the wall. But even if that’s not you, you’ve still probably got some questions on how to get the custom fridges you need for your venue at a cost that fits your budget.
Fortunately, we’re in a unique position to help. SKOPE runs one of the most accomplished fridge customization workshops in the entire Southern Hemisphere. With more than 50 years of experience in the industry, if we don’t know an answer to a question, it probably hasn’t been asked yet.
So here’s our quick guide to getting the right customized commercial refrigeration you need.
A custom fridge can actually be anything from a standard off the shelf fridge from a catalogue with a few unique component changes – like a backbar fridge with pass-through doors at the rear – to a 100% unique fridge designed from the castors-up.
It’s something worth thinking about before you start the process of getting a custom fridge because you might find you can source a solution with a modification that doesn’t offer too many compromises but saves you a lot of money.
Just be aware that bespoke doesn’t always have to be the answer, but modifying an existing fridge can often just be a stop gap or a poor choice in the long-term depending on what you’re trying to achieve.
Virtually everything is the answer to this question! Depending on what you need, you can customize:
Temperature variations (to fit the optimum parameters of the food or drink you want to cool)
Obviously we’re a little biased on this subject, but we advise customers to choose quality and expertise – ideally with a fridge manufacturer. But before you roll your eyes, let us just say that we not only create and modify fridges, we replace them too.
Many customers come to us with spaces already occupied by custom or modified fridges that didn’t meet expectations and didn’t come with much support.
So we’ve seen the evidence for ourselves. While there are plenty of customization options out there, be aware that many will come with limited to zero support and warranties. For example, we always support our custom fridges with a one year warranty.
Experienced hospitality entrepreneurs know the true cost of fridge failure, especially front of house where a fault can stop beverage service in its tracks. That’s why they typically choose a fridge manufacturer to build their fridges.
You want to build a short-list of potential partners to work with. Many of you will already be working with fit out consultants who already have their own pre-existing relationships with service providers and preferences of manufacturer.
But even if that’s the case, it’s worth independently checking out some alternatives to give yourself peace of mind and ultimately more leverage for a better deal with the service providers or manufacturer your consultant advocates.
How do you build that short-list? With a killer brief, of course.
In general, the more information you can provide in a brief the better and faster the results.
But at the very least, make sure your brief includes the following:
Remember to be as clear as possible when describing your pain points. Your brief will be reviewed by experts in the field, but regardless of their years of experience or number of qualifications, you’ll still get a quicker and better response by minimizing any vague or unclear parts.
A brief doesn’t have to be War and Peace, it can be a simple email or single page document if that fits requirements. Once you’ve drafted your brief, go back through it with an eye for cutting any unnecessary or flowery words. Ideally, have a colleague or friend objectively review the brief before you send it out.
The final part of the equation is how you communicate with your designer and engineers. To get the best result to your desired budget, you’ll want to reply to follow-up questions promptly and with clear direction.
You may be faced with choices neither yourself nor the custom team could have anticipated, so it pays to give real thought to the decision and to be decisive in your choice. The last thing you want is to force the designers and engineers into hedging any bets. A good service-provider will usually put the brakes on to avoid being put in that position, and of course that may add costs or time to the project.
In fact, after choosing a credible customs team to work on your problem, open communication is the defining factor to getting a custom fridge that fits the bill.
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