How to Save on Restaurant Equipment Repairs

The costs of running a restaurant can add up quickly, making it difficult to earn a profit. It’s especially hard in a tough economy. That’s why some restaurant owners often prefer to leave maintenance of their equipment out of their budgets. They simply feel the funds could be better spent elsewhere.

Sometimes it takes an emergency to discover why regular equipment maintenance is worth the price tag. Steve Pottinger, vice president of operations at the Greer Companies, learned the importance of continual care when one of his locations had an exhaust fan go out. If it wasn’t fixed immediately, it might have caused smoke to fill up the kitchen within minutes. The Cheddar’s restaurant was able to avoid a serious crisis because the manager reached a technician in time.

Now Pottinger understands why consistent repairs can make such a difference. “It was a fan belt that broke, something that could have been eliminated if it had been checked closer,” he explained. Today the company puts aside a percentage of sales revenue each year to cover repair and maintenance costs for its chain of Cheddar’s restaurants.

The Greer Companies learned a valuable lesson from the exhaust fan incident and changed its budget structure as a result. Unfortunately, many other restaurants are unaware of the cost savings involved in regular repairs. So they neglect the upkeep of their kitchen equipment to concentrate more of their funds on food, nonperishables and payroll.

It’s natural for a restaurant to avoid service repairs, particularly in a recession. But investing money in the lifespan of expensive equipment can be much more economical for the long term. Fryers, walk-in freezers and H-VAC systems among other types of kitchen machinery are all integral parts of a restaurant’s operation and require steady maintenance.

Why Preventive Maintenance Matters

The kitchen equipment you use has direct contact with the food your restaurant makes. So ensuring that the machinery operates at the best level means the quality of your food will also be high. Therefore, attention to a maintenance schedule is key.

Even small parts like knobs and gaskets can play important roles in how well your equipment performs. This means you shouldn’t overlook the replacement of these parts whenever necessary. Otherwise, you might experience a sudden breakdown, which could require you to close your kitchen and lose much needed revenue in the process.

Joe Pierce, president of the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association, understands that many restaurants put off regular repairs. But he has some advice operators may want to consider. Pierce believes owners should think of equipment repairs just as they do tune-ups for their vehicles.

“You can drive a car a long time without changing the oil and you’re saving money,” he said. “But once it needs repairing, that cost will be much larger than the cost of just changing the oil like you should have.”

By budgeting regular maintenance, the longevity of your equipment can increase significantly. In addition, knowing the status of a piece of equipment may also help you prepare for any upgrades. When it’s time to purchase a new apparatus, standard repairs will provide you with enough notice to avoid costly meltdowns.

Kitchen equipment is a central aspect of every restaurant. So making sure that you are keenly aware of how your machinery works at every stage of its lifespan benefits you, your staff and the people who come to your restaurant for quality meals every day.

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