4 Ways for Restaurants to Save on Operations and Maintenance

There are a few tools restaurants can use to prevent operations & maintenance expenses from getting too high. Read on for advice to keep costs in check.


It’s no secret that the costs of everything are on the rise. We see it at the gas pumps, in grocery stores, and—of course—in restaurants. The New York Times recently broke down the total increase in restaurant expenses, using an example in North Carolina to illustrate the toll it’s taking on operators.

Some of those expenses are tough for the everyday operator to control: labor will continue to get more expensive as minimum wages rise across the country, and food costs will continue to fluctuate due to ongoing international conflicts.

However, when it comes to equipment and maintenance expenses, there are a few tools that restaurants can use to protect this line item from getting too high. Read on for our four recommendations to keep these costs in check.

Commit to preventative maintenance

Take action now to avoid expensive problems with equipment down the road. With a preventative maintenance schedule for your restaurant, you can determine a routine for deep cleaning, keep a closer eye on kitchen equipment, and potentially identify the beginnings of a larger issue.

Consider restaurant refrigerators. In a reach-in, frost that builds up on the evaporator indicates that the condenser coils are frozen and need to be defrosted so the compressor isn’t overworked. Common preventive maintenance for restaurants would include a monthly evaporator check to ensure frost isn’t present. 

Without a preventative maintenance routine, it’s unlikely your team will check the evaporator regularly, which would cause you to miss signs of an overworked compressor. When a fridge unexpectedly stops working, you might not be able to create some of your menu items, leading to lost profits. You also run the risk of big inventory losses, depending on how long the equipment is out of service. 

Emergency vendor dispatch for restaurant refrigerators was $519.09 in 2021. Taking 20 seconds to check for a frosty evaporator? Completely free. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, preventative maintenance helps save businesses up to 18% year-over-year versus reactive maintenance. So, if you want to save on repairs and maintenance (R&M), a preventative maintenance program is a great place to start. 

Mind your warranties

When something in your kitchen breaks down, what’s your instinctual next step? Call a vendor to try and get it fixed immediately, right? Well, you’re getting a bit ahead of yourself. Always check the warranty status of infrastructure and equipment before dispatching a vendor, especially if your restaurant is newly constructed or if the item has been purchased within the past 1-3 years.

Vendors aren’t going to check warranty statuses on your behalf—they’re simply there to do the work to get equipment back up and running. You shouldn’t have to pay out of your own pocket if the manufacturer guaranteed the lifespan of the equipment. Be sure to document warranty information for every piece of equipment and infrastructure in your restaurant so it’s easy to reference when an emergency strikes.

But you don’t want to track warranties only to see what might help you. You need to see what could ultimately hurt your business, too. You see, some equipment manufacturers require specific approvals on certain repairs to maintain warranty eligibility. 

For example, one component of your HVAC system may stop working while it’s still under a warranty from your general contractor. However, if you swap it with an unauthorized replacement, you may void the warranty for all commercial HVAC repairs

restaurant plumber

Compare vendor rates

When something breaks down in your restaurant, calling a vendor before checking its warranty status is mistake number one. But mistake number two? Moving forward with the first vendor quote you collect.

We get it—time is in short supply. And with labor shortages continuing to rise, you likely feel you can't afford to lose your team to Googling and games of phone tag to find the best possible pricing for a repair.

But it really is in your bottom line’s best interest to compare vendor rates. Take Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston, South Carolina. With the guidance of our Customer Service and Account Management teams, the restaurant got a better rate than what first came across their desk.

After contacting another vendor and pulling out some negotiation tactics, the BBQ joint was able to move forward with a repair for about $17,000 less than their first quote! So imagine these savings for repairs over time: if you aren’t comparing vendor rates, your R&M budget could be smoked.

Invest in a tech-enabled solution

We can hear the groans now—who wants to spend more money when the goal is to save? And we know a lot of restaurant operators who have tried using CMMS maintenance software but wind up having a poor experience. 

Training a team to learn a CMMS is an intense undertaking—and it must continue every time there’s turnover at your restaurant. And the software doesn’t update automatically; your team is responsible for properly documenting every single piece of information for a service request! When you also consider how quickly fees for CMMS can add up, it’s no wonder that operators stick to pen and paper to track R&M.

But 86 Repairs isn’t a CMMS—it’s a tech-enabled solution specifically built for the restaurant industry. With us, restaurants get 24/7/365 support to reduce their R&M costs and spend less of their team's time managing equipment repairs. Plus, our customers get access to data-driven insights at their fingertips to make more informed decisions about repairing equipment vs. replacing it entirely. 

Preventative maintenance, warranty documentation, and vendor quote sourcing are all included in the price of our monthly subscription. So when you’re ready to make an investment in long-term R&M cost savings, request a demo to see how we can help.

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