For many of us, December is a month of rest and reflection as we prepare to ring in a new year. What worked for us the past 11 months? What should we leave behind? What can we do to improve and plan for our best year yet?
But resolutions aren’t just for self-improvement—they can better your business operations, too. So when you get a break from the holiday hustle and bustle, consider these resolutions for how to improve your restaurant’s repair and maintenance (R&M) processes next year.
Set a preventative maintenance schedule
You don’t know what’s going to happen in your kitchens on any given day. The walk-in could be down; the grease trap could be backed up. While you can’t prepare for every surprise, you can commit to preventative maintenance to stop more surprises from popping up.
Preventative maintenance (PM) can give you an opportunity to skip the hassle of last-minute breakdowns and reduce the costs associated with reactive, real-time repairs. When you set a preventative maintenance schedule, you invest in small things that can be done today to avoid major issues down the road.
Every piece of equipment can benefit from PM, but the cadence will vary. For example, filters for commercial HVAC systems should be cleaned at least every quarter, but jetting the lines of restaurant grease traps should only be done one or two times per year.
Overwhelmed by the idea of documenting what needs to be done for every item and when? Our preventative maintenance programs can help!
Continue routine maintenance between PM services
Here’s the thing with PM: you don’t just set the schedule and then forget about it until appointments come up. Maintenance is an ongoing task for restaurants that can keep your equipment performing as it should, even between professional service calls.
Look at the gaps in your preventative maintenance schedule. What can be done by your staff instead of waiting for a technician? What needs to be done so frequently that it would be cost-prohibitive to hire an external service to take on the task?
For example, consider deep fryer repair. Many restaurant concepts depend on fryers to create popular menu items, like hot wings or French fries. But those fryers must be maintained every day to optimize performance! If fryers aren’t cleaned daily, you run the risk of clogging the equipment with debris—and using old oil to cook fresh food. Yuck.
Make routine maintenance part of your opening and closing checklists for your team to avoid confusion and officially document what needs to be done and when.
Train staff on routine maintenance needs
On the topic of avoiding confusion…don’t just tell your team to “clean the deep fryer.” Someone new to the back of house might not have the first idea what that means and just dash some Dawn into a fryer basket, douse it with water, and hope for the best.
You can't fault your staff for not knowing your expectations for routine maintenance if you never provided them! So get explicit with your staff about what that means for every piece of equipment.
Offer clear and concise documentation for your teams. What does routine maintenance include for ovens? Walk-in refrigerators? What are the specific steps staff needs to take to get the job done? Let them know what needs to be done now to avoid frustration—for everyone—later.
Prepare for weather and equipment emergencies
If your restaurant operation is a franchise or sits within a larger corporation, you may already have contingency plans in place when a major weather event, like a hurricane or tornado, rolls through town.
However, it’s much less common for weather-related emergency plans to be in place for independent restaurant groups and smaller businesses. You might not have had the time to document them—or thought it was important to have this documentation in the first place.
Plus, emergencies don’t just come in the form of major weather events. If you run a steakhouse and your walk-in full of thousands of dollars in prime cuts of meat isn’t working, do you want to lose all that inventory?
“I can think of only a handful of incidents where a location had a plan ready so ‘emergency’ [service] calls could be navigated without compromising sales,” says Sarah Beth McLellan, Lead Customer Service Specialist.
So get proactive about emergency planning to avoid downtime or lost revenue. No matter what type of restaurant you run or existing documentation you have, we recommend using year-end as a time to review, reevaluate, and establish emergency protocols for your restaurants. Your on-site management should have access to all information for who to call and what steps to take if disaster strikes.
When it comes to equipment emergencies, consider: do you have options if your walk-in cooler dies without notice? What will you do if your main flat top grill goes down, but the parts to repair it are back ordered for months? You do have equipment rental options, so knowing exactly who to call when you’re in need of backup can be a huge help to your team.
Take inventory of your kitchen equipment and infrastructure
Ah, who doesn’t love to do inventory? Luckily, this type is a little less intensive than taking weekly stock of all of the ingredients you have on hand.
You only need to document your kitchen equipment and infrastructure inventory once, then update the list when units are replaced or added into the mix. This inventory should include the make, model, and serial number for every piece of equipment and infrastructure in the restaurant.
But why go through the trouble of doing this? To avoid making more trouble for yourself down the road. You see, when a piece of equipment or infrastructure needs service, the vendor performing the repair needs to know these details so they can differentiate from nuances between manufacturers to fix things properly. It also helps them determine exactly which parts should be ordered if some need to be replaced.
Added bonus? Having your serial numbers on hand makes it easy to check warranty coverage! Why pay out of your own company coffers to repair or replace something when it might already be covered by the manufacturer?
If this sounds overwhelming, we can take it off your plate. Learn about our Digital Equipment Inventories here.
Resolve to simplify restaurant R&M next year
If your main goal next year is to just get some free time on your schedule, may we suggest using the repair and maintenance platform built for the restaurant industry? (Hint: it’s 86 Repairs!)
Our team and technology provide a simple solution to on-demand repairs and PM. From documenting equipment inventories to establishing PM plans, 86 Repairs is the easiest way to manage restaurant repairs.
So resolve to simplify your R&M in the new year! Contact us to learn how it can work for your business.