It’s a busy Saturday night, and your restaurant is packed with guests waiting for food. The kitchen is operating at full tilt, trying to get orders out on time for an ever-growing line of hungry—and increasingly impatient—customers. As a manager, you’re helping to expo all of the orders waiting in the window while checking your phone constantly for word that tomorrow’s line cook shift got picked up.
Then, out of the corner of your eye, you notice what seems to be an increasingly heated argument between a customer and a server, so you head over to calm things down. On top of everything else, your chef just alerted you that the walk-in won’t temp.
Sounds like a pretty typical Saturday in the industry, right? Chaos reigns—and you have little to no extra time to manage all of its constantly moving parts. But you have to make time for restaurant equipment repair in the moment it becomes an emergency.
It’s time to spend your Saturdays—and every other day—a bit differently. Here’s how to prioritize restaurant equipment repair.
Why operators can't find time for proactive restaurant equipment repair
The majority of the 86 Repairs team has restaurant industry experience. So we know that the folks running the floor or managing operations have a never-ending to-do list, no matter how busy a shift may be. They:
- Keep tabs on the guest experience, from checking that guests are happy to handling complaints with care.
- Manage frontline staff to ensure they're doing their job properly, from selling specials to seeing if they're swamped.
- Find people to cover shifts when employees call in sick. Hello, last-minute plans and unwelcome stress!
- Hire new staff. This involves writing job descriptions, posting online, reviewing resumes, and active involvement in the interview process.
- Make shift schedules. Software or spreadsheets determine who is expected at the restaurant and when. But conflicts in availability and one-off requests can make things complicated.
- Order ingredients. In conjunction with the chef, managers help keep fridges and shelves stocked with the right amount of food and beverages. Order too much, and it creates waste; order too little, and you lose the opportunity to make sales.
- Manage vendor relationships, including paying invoices, monitoring prices, and finding different options when old suppliers don’t deliver.
- Train new hires on restaurant systems, processes, and procedures so they can do their job correctly.
- Manage team dynamics. Restaurants employ a wide variety of different personality types with diverse backgrounds. Conflicts occur—and managers get to resolve them.
- Create weekly, monthly, and yearly revenue and expense reports to help track profitability.
- Handle health and safety requirements, from dealing with inspectors to documenting safety procedures to keeping staff certifications up to date.
- Attend meetings with upper management and owners to discuss goals for restaurant growth.
With a never-ending to-do list like this, it’s not surprising that restaurant equipment repair is usually reactive instead of proactive. After all, you can’t ignore a commercial HVAC system that won’t work, but it’s easy to let filter replacements fall through the cracks.
Why you need to prioritize restaurant equipment repair
Routine and preventative maintenance (PM) are critical for avoiding equipment and infrastructure emergencies—which are often more expensive to resolve.
Consider grease traps. The typical cost of routine grease trap cleaning starts at $175. But the average cost for emergency dispatch when the grease trap is overflowing? In 2022, our data shows it was just over $560.
As you can see, it's less expensive to be proactive about grease trap cleaning instead of risking a higher price and unexpected downtime from last-minute repairs.
Why is downtime a concern? Well, you can’t run a coffee shop and not serve half of your menu because of a faulty espresso machine. And it’s pretty hard to keep your staff and customers happy when your commercial AC suddenly stops working on a hot day.
When critical equipment is down, staff can’t do their jobs properly, guest happiness is at risk, and—most importantly—you lose revenue.
By prioritizing maintenance, you can avoid how often these emergencies arise. Routine maintenance can be done daily, weekly or monthly by in-house staff to keep equipment functioning.
Simple, daily maintenance tasks can include:
- Checking that the thermostat on the walk-in fridge is set to the right temperature
- Cleaning range tops to eliminate grease build-up
- Rinsing bar sinks to avoid pests
Preventative maintenance, on the other hand, is a scheduled, specialized service for certain pieces of restaurant equipment and infrastructure. PM may be done quarterly, bi-annually, or annually, depending on what needs to be serviced.
Sample PM programs may include:
- Quarterly condenser coil cleaning
- Bi-annual ice machine sanitization
- Annual backflow preventer inspections
But how can you prioritize routine and preventative maintenance when you’re already struggling to work through your to-do list?
How to find time for restaurant equipment repair
To help you get proactive in repairs and maintenance (R&M), create a repeatable and consistent process that every person on your team can easily follow—even when turnover is high and free time is low.
Some operators may implement facility management software to help them do just that. And though it can technically get the job done, CMMS requires a considerable time commitment: setting up requires lots of manual work, and you need to train staff on how to use the complex software.
On top of that, someone still needs to manage all the information around a service request—from finding vendors, sourcing quotes, comparing the quotes, and getting the repairs scheduled.
Facility management software might help put a process in place, but it could actually take up more of your time than having no R&M process at all. A better approach is a tech-enabled solution.
The simple solution for restaurant equipment repair
86 Repairs is specifically built for the restaurant industry. Not only is it easy to use, requiring no specialized training to get up and running, but we take repairs off your plate by managing the entire R&M process. This allows you to stress less about equipment and infrastructure and devote more time to creating positive guest experiences.
Take it from one of our customers, Ashton Dunbar of Paxton Kesier Enterprises dba Taco John’s: “Truly, for the cost, [86 Repairs] is worth every penny. Time is money, and I’m able to utilize my time much more wisely now.”
When something goes down, you simply call, text, or email us. Our Customer Service Team manages the rest—like troubleshooting common issues with staff and sourcing top-rated vendors for restaurant equipment repair.
On top of end-to-end repair management, 86 Repairs customers get access to actionable data and insights so operators can make decisions to drive growth.
Book a demo to learn how 86 Repairs can partner with your restaurant business and make R&M simpler than ever.