How does a brand new La Marzocco, Nuovo Simonelli, Synesso or Slayer espresso machine get to a shop? These are four of the most exciting and high-quality machine companies out there. I understand Synesso and Slayer are extremely rare. How do they compare with zocco and simonelli when it comes to distribution?
Is it typically standard operating procedure for companies to send a representative to do the install and set-up? I work at a shop in Kansas City. I would like to know how the industry operates.
Any experienced shop owners or operators out there who can help me understand the process?
I can shed a little light on this, based on my experience with Nuova Simonelli, Rancilio, and Astoria. I've not dealt with Slayer or Synesso though, so can't really help there. This may not be a complete picture, but it is a start. Hopefully others will jump in to correct any inaccuracies and fill in missing pieces.
The Italian manufacturer generally works with a single main US importer and distribution point that will be their presence in the US or North America - for example, Nuova Distribution, Rancilio North America, or General Espresso Equipment (C.M.A. - Astoria). This importer may be a subsidiary of the manufacturer or may be an independent entity. They will maintain a huge machine and parts inventory, a sales office, a tech-support call center, and handle the various marketing tasks for the brand in their country.
The US distributor generally will sell machines directly to customers. For example, if you were to call up Nuova Distribution they will happily sell you a brand new Aurelia, Appia Compact, or Athena Leva. If you do buy from them, they'll contact one of their local service partners (a tech or equipment company) to handle the install. Some companies (ex. Rancilio, Nuova Simonelli) will ship the new machine to the local service partner's shop and the tech will deliver and install the machine. Others will ship the machine directly to the customer and the tech will install the machine after it is delivered. In either case, the importer will generally pay for the install and also has responsibility for the warranty... they'll issue a work order to the service partner and upon completion the service partner will invoice them for the work.
In addition to selling some machines directly to the customers, the importer and national distributor will also develop a network of service partners and distributors covering the various parts of the country. The importer will provide them with training, marketing material, parts, and machines at a discount off of list prices. This discount varies based on several factors. These distributors and service partners will then sell equipment to customers in their area. Service partners are expected to maintain a sufficient parts inventory to support the machines in their area. Distributors also may be expected to support techs and dealers in their area, maintain parts inventories, and sell machines to them. Roasters, equipment companies like Espresso Parts and Espresso Southeast, and tech companies like mine all fall into these categories.
When distributors or service partners do sell a machine, the importer usually doesn't cover the cost of the installation or the labor part of the warranty. Depending on how equipped they are to perform the installation, they may pay a tech to do the install, do the install themselves, or opt to buy the machine from the importer at a higher price. In the last case, the install and warranty will work as if the importer had sold the machine. Or (in the case of some online equipment companies) you may be left to your own devices to install the machine.
Due to the variety of potential installation and warranty scenarios, a potential buyer should ALWAYS make sure they understand if installation is included. Always!
A notable exception to the above importer/distributor model is La Cimbali, in which case I believe the home office works directly with a small number of regional distributors.
Note that installation and service are usually done by "3rd party" service partners that are not employed by the manufacturer or their US distributor/importer. I think the only time this is not the case is when you happen to be located close to that importer. That is a consideration - as much as you might like a manufacturer's machine, the majority of your after-sales support will be handled by their preferred service provider in your area, assuming there is one. That's one reason I always suggest that customers consider the availability of local support when choosing an espresso machine.
Another comment - the local service partner that will install your machine can probably sell you that machine. It is worth your time to call them and find out.
Again, not a complete picture, but hopefully this helps.
Oh, I believe that La Marzocco follows the same model as the others I detailed here, with their US Importer/Distributor being La Marzocco USA.
I suspect that Slayer being a newer and lower-volume manufacturer has less of a network.
Synesso really seems to focus their efforts on the west coast. It didn't sound like they had much interest in having a presence east of the Mississippi river a few years ago... perhaps that has changed, but I still haven't seen many in these parts. Not sure what their distribution network looks like outside of the greater Seattle area.
Thank you for taking time to reply. I am honored to learn from you.
From your experience, how realistic is it to find a quality used/refurbished Synesso machine? If I could have any machine right now, it might be a Synesso.
In my perfect world, I would want an exposed, 3 group, paddle-head Synesso or La Marzocco. The Cyncra, Sabre, or Strada come to mind. Also the Speedster (if it came in a 3 group).
In your mind, where would you go and what kind of chances would you have in finding a refurbished/used machine of that caliber?
And, does buying a used machine affect your chances for general service and upkeep through the manufacturer? In other words, am I losing out on all support if I buy used?
Thanks again for your time!
Again, unless you live in the same metro area as the manufacturer, the manufacturer does not service your machine. Its all handled by 3rd party techs. The manufacturer is interested in having working machines in the field, and should provide phone tech support owners regardless of the source.
No info on Synesso's website about their service partners... it just says to contact them. I would call them and ask who their nearest service partner is.
Another approach is to ask around at local shops to find out who handles espresso machine service in your area. Get referrals. Many owners will have both positive and negative experiences with techs that they'll be happy to share. Once you've found a good tech, call them and ask them which machines they support and stock parts for. They'll probably say "all of them", so see if you can find out their focus. What machines do they sell? Don't ask them what machines they can work on, ask them what they stock parts for.
Your chances of finding a good used machine of that caliber on the open market for a price significantly less than new are probably pretty slim. There's a chance for factory refurbished "demo" units for a small discount... but only the distributor or factory can speak to that.