The Average Restaurant Repair and Maintenance Costs You Need to Know

Get a better understanding of all of the factors that play into R&M by learning data points about average restaurant repair and maintenance costs.


Sh*t happens. Whether your kid takes a tumble off their bike, your email gets hacked, or the air conditioning busts at your restaurant during a heat wave, some things are just out of your control.

But there are buffers that can be put in place to soften the blow of the unexpected. 

We get insurance to help cover unexpected medical costs and use two-factor authentication to avoid people breaking into our online accounts. And restaurants can empower themselves with data to figure out when their equipment or infrastructure is most likely to fail.

The average restaurant repair and maintenance costs across the U.S. are $28 billion per year. And restaurants lose an additional $46 billion due to equipment or infrastructure downtime. With such a massive amount of money at play, operators and staff must stay on top of R&M expenses to protect profits.

To better understand all of the factors that play into the largest controllable line item on your P&L, we’ve collected the common definitions and data points you need to know. Read on and learn what to look for to keep your average restaurant repair and maintenance costs at a minimum.

Restaurant repair and maintenance definitions

When you’re identifying areas for improvement at your restaurant, it’s important to use common language so you, your staff, and your vendors stay on the same page about what specific words and terms actually mean. The less confusion there is, the more you can actually focus on controlling expenses.

So, let’s start with the basics. 

Repairs and maintenance

Repairs and maintenance are vital to keeping every restaurant open and running. It includes ongoing upkeep of any equipment or infrastructure in your kitchen and efficiently fixing those things when they falter or fail.

Preventative maintenance

Preventative maintenance (PM) is any regularly scheduled activity designed to keep equipment running as it should. You might also know it as preventive maintenance, planned maintenance, or routine maintenance.

PM is a logical move for any restaurant operator looking to avoid expensive emergencies. But it’s often put on the back burner because of competing priorities like a busy lunch shift, staff shortages, and training. However, preventative maintenance can save businesses up to 18% year-over-year compared to reactive maintenance.

Here’s what preventative maintenance could look like at your restaurant: 

  • Twice annual line jetting to keep pipes flowing
  • Monthly or quarterly HVAC filter cleaning or replacement
  • Daily checks of the walk-in thermostat to ensure it’s at proper temperature

Interested in more detailed preventative maintenance plans? Contact us to learn more.

Equipment symptoms

Equipment symptoms are the issues that clue your team in on something that isn’t working the way it should. Leaky fridge? Fryer not to temperature? Soft drink beverage dispenser not working? Those are all equipment symptoms that need to be addressed.

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is the act of taking certain steps to diagnose an equipment symptom.

  • A leaky fridge could be caused by ice buildup at the evaporator.
  • A fryer that won’t heat might not have power, or its pilot light might be out.
  • Soft drink beverage dispensers that don’t work might have a broken connection to a water line or simply need to have nozzles replaced.

No matter which equipment or infrastructure is showing symptoms, troubleshooting can be done to avoid potentially pointless vendor dispatch—saving you money and avoiding unnecessary downtime.

Looking for more examples of troubleshooting tips? Check out The 86 Repairs Guide to Restaurant Grease Traps

Service request

For equipment under lease, like soft drink beverage dispensers, or infrastructure requiring special expertise, like electric wiring, there’s only minimal troubleshooting to be done. Call in a service request to the appropriate vendor to help protect your financial investments—and, more importantly, your team.

You’ll also want to submit a service request to a vendor if troubleshooting isn’t resolving your equipment or infrastructure symptoms—or if the symptoms are so odd you aren’t even sure how to start troubleshooting them.

A service request should only be considered complete once the work is done to your satisfaction. 

Restaurant repair and maintenance costs to track

The true average cost to repair and maintain your restaurant equipment takes many factors into consideration, like average hourly rates, how long it actually takes for the request to be resolved, and if a vendor successfully fixes the problem during the first service call.

Read on to learn the data points you really need to know to get the full picture of your repair and maintenance spend.

Vendor performance

Vendor performance is how quickly vendors, service providers, or technicians can resolve equipment symptoms and at what cost and quality.

When you think about vendor performance, you should be thinking about the big picture of the value they add to your business. It should give you an idea of how long it takes the vendor to resolve service requests—and how much you should expect to spend on them. 

Average hourly rate

This is how much a vendor charges per hour, on average, to resolve a service request. It’s likely the only factor, aside from availability, that you’ve used to choose vendors in the past. But average hourly rates are just one piece of this puzzle.

Average invoice cost

This is the average total cost for a vendor to complete a repair on a piece of equipment. This includes labor, parts, and travel fees.

Average invoice costs can vary widely depending on the type of service needed. For example, The State of Repairs found that the average invoice cost for an HVAC repair was $1019.90 in 2021; for soft drink beverage dispensers, it was only $318.48.

Mean time to resolution (MTTR)

MTTR is how long it takes for a vendor to complete a repair on average. The lower the number, the better. The higher the number, the longer you’re waiting for repair—and potentially missing out on profits for your restaurant.

First time fix rate (FTFR)

The frequency in which a top-performing vendor, on average, can resolve an issue in one service request. You should look for vendors who can keep this number as close to 100% as possible: when you’re already spending a lot of money on a repair, the last thing you want to do is spend more money on the same repair.

A note on MTTR and FTFR

MTTR and FTFR are not consistently tracked data points, yet they’re vital to understand the overall performance of a vendor—and are more impactful than simply comparing hourly rates.

Consider this: Vendor 1 has an average hourly rate of $150. Vendor 2 has an average hourly rate of $200. It takes Vendor 1 14 days to resolve the issue, and Vendor 2 10 days.

The average hourly rate is only half the story. Evaluating MTTR, a restaurant operator can quickly realize that their service request can be solved faster and mitigate costly downtime with Vendor 2.

Calculate average restaurant repair and maintenance costs with ease

Facility management software from 86 Repairs automatically tracks and calculates these data points on your behalf—all through the invoices you’re already collecting. It’s the only solution available that not only takes repairs off your plate, but also gives you the actionable insights you need for better business decisions.

Request a demo today to learn how it can work for your restaurant!

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