The secret weapon to resolving any repair or maintenance issue in your commercial kitchen is a trusted service provider.
Are you in the best possible position with your service providers to get incidents resolved quickly and at the highest level of quality?
Here’s the deal: getting your equipment repaired by a quality service provider is not a given. We are currently facing the greatest trade skills shortage since World War II.
Service companies are understaffed, which means they’re in a position to select who to work with, and who to prioritize. You want to be on that priority list when something in your kitchen goes down.
6 Tips for Cultivating Strong Relationships with Service Providers
1. Set up accounts with service providers before calling them for service
To save yourself frustration in the heat of the moment of managing an incident, prepare yourself ahead of time by proactively setting up accounts with service providers. This is our biggest time-saving tip. There is no downside to this action other than the time it takes to fill out a few forms and click submit. In taking the first step to building a relationship with a specific service provider you’ve sent a signal that you’re looking to potentially partner in the future.
Take this one step further and put preventative maintenance contracts in place to show a service provider that you’re serious about giving them your business. You’ll likely see better rates, waived trip charges, and higher prioritization.
2. Train your staff on best practices for communicating with service providers
If your staff knows standard operating procedures on how to work with a specific service provider, including preferred methods of communication, it makes each of their jobs much easier. Staff members should be able to provide a thorough and accurate description of the issue they’re experiencing, and be onsite to clearly direct a service provider to the equipment that needs to be fixed.
Service companies are often small operators whose owners may still be directly involved in turning the wrench. They don’t want to send a tech out for an issue only to be met with a locked door or a staff member who doesn’t know enough about the issue at hand.
Educate your staff on best practices such as:
- Directing a service provider to the equipment in question with notes on the issue that needs to be addressed
- Requesting a walkthrough of the steps taken during the visit, including issue resolution
- Checking a technician in when they arrive, and checking them out after a thorough debrief of the visit
3. Request a 1:1 conversation
The key to a genuine service provider relationship isn’t a complicated secret: it’s conversation. After a few satisfactory service visits, ask for 1:1 with the owner. Be open to an exclusive service contract, or a preventative maintenance contract, but don’t feel the pressure to commit yet. This is your chance to establish that all-important rapport and exchange feedback on your preferences when working together. If you get to know who you are working with on a personal level, future incident management can feel natural and easy, despite the urgency to find a fix.
4. Pay invoices on time
At the end of the day, this is a business relationship, and the easiest way to foster a good reputation as a client is to pay your invoices on time. If there were errors or questions following a particular service visit, bring them to the SP’s attention as soon as you pay the invoice, instead of holding out. Ask for corrective action and adjustments for the future, or schedule a meeting to talk through the best path forward in-person.
5. Comp a meal for a job well done
Service techs are in short supply, so the individual who is stopping by your restaurant to repair your equipment probably has a packed schedule. They rarely stop to have a proper meal. The small investment on your end in the form of a comped meal shows that you value their work, and your relationship with them and their company.
6. Hire a partner in R&M to cultivate the relationships with you/ for you
That’s where we come in.
86 Repairs will set-up accounts on your behalf with any service provider on our vetted list, or use your preferred existing service relationships without issue. We have years of experience in this business, and can provide clear direction to a service provider, verify the equipment to fix, and troubleshoot every issue to avoid a frivolous service call, benefitting services providers and you at the same time.
Part of our service includes ensuring we know the manager on duty at all times. We track every service provider visit, including check-ins, check-outs, and resolutions. We request warranty return visits when the unit isn’t operating as intended after a recent service call.
When it comes to building those personal 1:1 relationships with service providers, we’re your ally. We arrange regular sit-down meetings with service providers, and provide them with data and feedback based on your experience.
We hear it from restaurateurs all the time - your to-do list is a mile long, and just as you put out one fire, another one takes its place. Building these vendor relationships is important, but it’s a task that may not make it on your current priority list.
Cultivating a strong relationship with your service provider isn’t complex, but it does take time and consistent effort. That being said, we believe it’s an initiative that can have a positive impact on your R&M management.
Building service provider relationships isn’t just another item on our to-do list - this is all we do. We’re obsessed with making sure that your restaurant receives timely and high quality equipment repairs.
Let us take this one off your plate.