Every business owner faces the responsibility of maintaining their equipment, but restaurant operators have a unique issue when it comes to repairs: if their equipment isn’t working, they can’t serve their customers the food they came for.
Restaurant repairs are a $26 billion dollar industry. It's the largest controllable expense in the industry, even compared to food and labor costs. And most owners, operators, and general managers are far from maintenance experts—they're focused on memorable guest experiences.
There isn't a one-size-fits-all solution to repairs and maintenance (R&M). But although there may not be an R&M 101 training manual, we have 6 restaurant maintenance tips that can help businesses of any size or service type.
Why you need our restaurant maintenance tips
86 Repairs connects the dots and data between vendors, individual restaurant locations, and corporate teams to improve consistency, visibility, and control of the R&M process.
We track value metrics like Total Cost of Ownership, Vendor Performance, ROI, and more for each of our customers. From these data points, we help other customers benchmark their performance against hundreds of locations, thousands of service incidents, and tens of thousands of assets.
Then, our Account Managers makes well-informed recommendations so operators aren't making decisions in a vacuum.
We empower and equip operators with the insights to:
- Make better business decisions, like when to repair vs. when to replace a specific piece of equipment
- Make more strategic capital planning decisions
- Deliver the right approvals and decisions to the right providers
- Track total cost of ownership at every location
- Minimize operational distractions and business disruptions
- Maximize uptime and profits
Discover how much money your restaurant business could save with our Savings Calculator!
With customers representing every type of restaurant, we have a clear, data-backed understanding of restaurant maintenance tips that work. Here's what you need to know.
Restaurant maintenance tip 1: Negotiate with vendors
When managing repairs on your own, getting the job done ASAP is the priority, especially when something as essential as a fryer or HVAC system breaks down during a rush. With more strategic planning and preventative maintenance (PM), emergency repairs aren’t obsolete—but they're much less frequent. PM makes comparing quotes and negotiation in advance of service appointments possible.
With 86 on your side, our in-house team does exactly this to make sure you're paying fair prices and getting the right vendor for the job. We leverage the collective intelligence from tens of thousands of service incidents to ensure our customers pay fair prices every time, and lean on internal analysis to dispatch top-performing vendors.
For example, one 86 Repairs customer had a preferred vendor quote them $7,770 for an electrical repair. By utilizing our nationwide network of vendors, our team was able to secure them an electrician for 60% less than the original quote.
Restaurant maintenance tip 2: Troubleshoot
Sometimes, something breaks, and you don't even realize it could be fixed easily. But when you’re unfamiliar with R&M, stress kicks in and distracts from common sense. Simple troubleshooting can resolve about 14% of your restaurant's incidents without ever having to call a vendor.
Our team is well-versed in restaurants, and they help our customers troubleshoot issues in real time to avoid vendor dispatch. We've collected troubleshooting tips for the most common equipment and infrastructure issues that restaurants face in our annual State of Repairs report.
Restaurant maintenance tip 3: Avoid overtime
When a repair isn't urgent, avoiding dispatch can help prevent excessive prices. Overtime (OT) charges on nights and weekends can be a nightmare; if possible, we recommend employing short-term solutions and holding tight until standard rates resume.
When done right, a band-aid fix can be helpful to avoid an OT charge. However, we don’t recommend regularly relying on duct tape and a prayer. Preparation will minimize the blow of inevitable breakdowns and leave you more equipped to manage these incidents in real time.
Restaurant maintenance tip 4: Check warranty status
Manufacturer-to-vendor communication is imperative to understand warranty eligibility and timelines. However, with extenuating supply chain strains and labor shortages putting pressure on the industry, communication may be limited.
Establishing a foundation by taking comprehensive inventory is essential to good asset management. During our onboarding process, we create custom Digital Equipment Inventories of your kitchen assets across locations for you in order to accurately track service history, spend, and warranty status. When issues arise, we can ensure customers never pay for a repair that should be covered by warranty.
Conversely, we ensure warranty work is authorized to avoid voiding warranty. It’s an all too common rookie mistake. When one part of an HVAC system stops working, and you swap it with a unauthorized replacement, you may be voiding the entire system’s warranty. Some manufacturers even require specific approvals on repairs to maintain eligibility.
When information is well-documented across all equipment, and there are processes in place—with an on-call team dotting I’s and crossing T’s on your behalf—these mistakes are much less likely.
Restaurant maintenance tip 5: Use preventative maintenance
If the wrong pipe backed up on a Friday night, you may have sewage backed up in the restaurant, or at least the smell of it. You’d want that fixed ASAP.
If you abide by one restaurant maintenance tip on this list, it should be this. Getting ahead of breakdowns and establishing a preventative maintenance schedule to assess equipment health eliminates the stress and investment surrounding emergency repairs.
Our team creates Digital Equipment Inventories, collects various quotes, and maintains schedules and checklists on your behalf. All of this is tracked in your customer profile to provide a single source of truth on your equipment.
Need more reasons to use preventive maintenance for restaurants? Here are just a few:
- Wear-and-tear on equipment increases the likelihood of repair or the need for total replacement. Regular cleaning and checking reduces strain.
- Local health codes and compliance requirements on equipment like grease traps, floor drains, vent hoods, fire suppression systems, and water filtration systems are mandatory.
- Solid PM programs can save up to 30% on energy costs.
- Downtime is detrimental—period. The longer a specific piece of equipment that creates a high-margin item is down, the more revenue is lost.
Restaurant maintenance tip 6: Order parts in advance
Maintenance inventory and purchasing varies greatly from business to business and vendor to vendor. When a preventative maintenance plan is established, detailing materials and parts to keep in stock and readily available is routine. But because of the current state of the supply chain, parts as simple as filters and fryer baskets are hard to come by. What used to take days might take weeks.
When vendor dispatch is properly scheduled, delays are minimized. We maintain a solid grasp on parts supplies and manufacturer lead times through extensive industry relationships. Often, our customers will need specific parts that our team can secure on a one-time or recurring basis. These resolutions avoid unnecessary markups by manufacturers and save on labor and travel charges by avoiding dispatch altogether.
Get more restaurant maintenance tips
While repair and maintenance is a pain point for many restaurant operators, these 6 best practices can take some of the pain away. By using tactics such as vendor negotiation and warranty checks, as well as creating a preventative maintenance plan, you can alleviate the stress, high costs, and extra time needed to successfully maintain your equipment.
To learn more about how 86 Repairs can help your restaurant maintenance be managed better than ever, request a demo today.