Undoubtedly, these are unprecedented times for the foodservice industry. As COVID-19 fades and the industry seeks to find its “New Normal” it has created a sense of overdrive in the nation’s kitchens.
With takeout and delivery becoming a mainstay and now the return of in-restaurant dining, the demands on kitchen equipment have reached new levels that have never been seen before. While this shift has proven in many cases to be highly profitable to restaurateurs, it requires that operators build a parts and service strategy rather than waiting to react to equipment breakdowns.
According to Clint Holder, Chief Customer Officer of Parts Town, “the demand by the dining public has simply left no room for downtime. What used to be a daypart defined industry now finds itself working 24/7 to feed its customers. There no longer exists a window to have equipment out of commission or a budget for backup equipment. This stress on the equipment also drives the need for greater preventive maintenance activity which has not traditionally been fully appreciated or embraced by the industry.”
Parts Town has an excellent read on the industry and are well equipped to meet the demands the growing pressure on prep and cooking equipment has brought. “Our business has grown substantially through the pandemic as customers have pivoted to this new ordering. So, we’ve increased our stocking profiles and the demand for OEM parts that I think is higher than ever as the equipment needs to be running more efficiently and reliably,” Holder said.
The Chicago-based company is now among sales club royalty, having just achieved billion-dollar status. “We support all channels of the market that require food service equipment parts. We are providing custom solutions for service companies, chain restaurants, institutions, and independent restaurants. Aware of the difference in need across the spectrum,” Holder added. “We have dedicated teams focused on supporting those units and we’ve developed innovative tools and technology that really make finding parts and procuring them fast, simple, and most importantly, accurate.”
It is important to note that this meteoric rise happened only within the 21st Century. The foodservice industry took its time to fully embrace technology. His company saw a void and acted quickly to fill it. According to Holder prior to 2007, when Parts Town launched – the first e-commerce enabled website of its kind, the industry was “very fragmented and at that time there was no e-commerce platform supporting the manufacturers and partnering with the manufacturers with a loyalty and commitment to support genuine OEM to speak of.” His company, he continued, brought “industry tools to bear and we’ve got a number of innovations that have fueled our growth and the ability to support customers unlike any other of our competition.”
Now, with technology awakening in foodservice and accelerated in part by the pandemic, means that “the equipment is definitely becoming more connected, more technical, more unique in the sense that it’s less common parts on some of these more sophisticated pieces of equipment, which I think drives the need to have a fast reliable access to OEM parts,” Holder said. “I think that’s where we come in and deliver a support to the industry, both the manufacturers and the customers who are on the equipment and service companies that rely on having the parts to quickly get the equipment up and running.”
Additionally, the industry is now moving toward specialized software and hardware that can remotely track kitchen equipment performance. With that Holder and his Parts Town team have introduced a mobile app to assist operators and service providers maximize their efficiency in keeping kitchens up and running. “We see an evolution and adoption of connected equipment to monitor and to maximize uptime and we’re super excited about that.” This allows them to “collaborate with our manufacturer partners as they’re developing technology and working alongside them to support and optimize the opportunity to deliver parts ahead of time, in real time, and just in time to support the equipment. I think it’s going to be broadly adopted as people see the value that it can support lowering operating costs.”
Holder also revealed that one of the biggest findings from surveys that his company has conducted is that what customers care most about is “availability, availability, availability, availability,” he emphasized. “So, we want to make it very easy and efficient for someone to find the right part and get it to them next day.”
The rapport that Parts Town has built with its customer base over the years, Holder said, has also bred a new culture. “The culture is foundational to what we do. We don’t make anything. We are a distributor and the things we differentiate and do is the delivery of products faster than anyone and more efficiently and more effectively and in a way that makes it easy to do business. So much so that Parts Town’s ethos now goes beyond providing foodservice equipment,” Holder added.
“We are a one stop shop for the industry and those customers have demands that go beyond food service equipment parts. So many of our chain partners and institutional customers come to us for things that are not fitting the traditional food service equipment parts, but they find it simple and easy to do business with us and want us to expand that support.” The Parts Town Marketplace platform he concluded, “is a fantastic way for us to extend the availability of parts that our customers are demanding, and more and more customers are digital, and our platform is fantastic for leveraging that opportunity.”
More information on Parts Town as well as their inventory and services can be found online at their website