On today’s show we’re talking about the dilemma of choosing suppliers and choosing specific products. There is a world of choice and prices vary widely. It comes down to making a value determination whenever you’re choosing a particular product.
The importance of that choice depends on who you are and what you’re going to do with it. If I’m going to play a game of basketball, I’m going to make a difference choice on which ball to buy compared with Lebron James. To me a basketball is worth an hour of recreation. To Lebron, the basketball is worth millions.
On today’s show we’re going to be looking at dishes. You might be wondering why we’re looking at dishes. Well, our team is in the planning phases on a hospitality project. This will require investment in many different aspects. Everything from kitchen equipment to seating and tables for the dining room, to glasses, dishes, cutlery and napkins. There are hundreds of details to be planned in this project.
Even though we’re going to be talking about dishes, as you’re listening to this, I don’t want you to focus on dishes per se. What I want to emphasize is the process that will be used in the final product selection for the dining room.
We believe that everything in the dining room needs to form part of the experience. The design of the menu, the training of the staff, the décor, the room temperature, the comfort of the seating, the manner and speed with which the diner receives their bill. All these details matter. So too does the choice of dinner ware.
The dining room will have a certain theme that is a combination of casual and upscale. So we don’t want a classic white dish. We don’t want an overly formal plate.
We found a supplier in Vermont that had the look we were after. The reviews of the product were excellent, and the quality looks top notch.
But prices were high. A single dinner plate varied in price between $25 to $29 dollars. A serving platter was priced at $82. We would need to spend over $15,000 just in dishes alone.
Research showed that we could order products from China online where prices were $1-$2 per plate. But the minimum order quantity was 1,000. Even if we ordered a quantity of 1,000 and only used 200, we’re still talking about a price of $10 per plate compared with $25. We found a supplier in China that had a product we liked. The look seemed in keeping with the brand and theme of the dining room. If we host a large event and need more dishes, we would have them on hand and would not need to rent any dishes.
But of course you don’t want to make the decision based on price alone. We have to consider the weight of the dishes. If the dishes are too heavy, that could be a workplace safety issue for our serving staff. If the dishes are too heavy they might need to be heated before serving the meal, otherwise the meal will get cold quickly. If the dishes are too light, then they will appear cheap and give the diner the impression that they’re getting less value for their dining experience.
The dishes have to be dishwasher safe and not leach any toxic chemicals. They need to be able to withstand the repeated temperature changes that come from the dishwasher. Those thermal cycles are the #1 thing that shorten the lifespan of a dish. They will eventually get small cracks in the glaze and break. The glaze needs to be robust enough that the plates won’t chip with regular everyday handling clearing the table. The color of the plate needs to complement the food so that when you have a meal on plate, the plate frames the meal and complements the colors of the meal without stealing attention away from the meal.
All of these details are about designing an end user experience. You see, design doesn’t have to cost extra. It just requires you to pay attention to the details and think through the experience from the perspective of the end user. It’s not complicated, it’s just rarely done.