Last month, we created the ultimate guide to buying commercial kitchen equipment and have decided to make maintaining kitchen equipment this month’s theme. “March Maintenance” has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Read on to discover how you can ensure you get the best from your commercial equipment, reduce issues and avoid those emergency repairs that we all dread!

Why You Should Treat Your Kitchen Equipment Like Your Car
Consider this: the average person drives their vehicle for only a couple hours each day, yet doesn’t give a second thought to regularly scheduled maintenance for their car, from oil changes and regular tune-ups to installing new brake pads or wiper blades. We do these things for the peace of mind, knowing that we’re operating an expensive machine and if we don’t pro-actively take care of it, it’s only a matter of time before it breaks down.

Now imagine your most critical pieces of kitchen equipment. They are likely functioning constantly from the moment that kitchen service prep begins until last call. This equipment clocks a lot more mileage than the average vehicle, yet regular equipment maintenance is frequently overlooked until something goes wrong. But if you wait until your equipment starts malfunctioning to repair it, that leaves you at the mercy of your service provider. Will they have the parts needed to fix the unit right away? How quickly can they come? Will the repair occur during a peak period and disrupt dinner service? Or will it be after hours when you have to pay overtime rates? Waiting until equipment breaks before servicing it is playing with fire!

Unless you love taking unnecessary risk, we recommend implementing a planned maintenance program. Routine maintenance for critical pieces of equipment helps catch problems before they spiral out of control. Trained techs can often provide a quote to repair a unit before it fails, majorly reducing stress for you and your staff. Another benefit of planned maintenance is that techs can replace normal wear-and-tear parts on a regular basis to maximize a unit’s efficiency and even extend its lifespan.

The Best Time to Replace Kitchen Equipment
Most manufacturers advise that if you have critical pieces of equipment used on a daily basis, you should consider pro-actively replacing the unit around the seven year mark. Of course this varies according to usage, but it’s a great benchmark to keep in mind when you create your capital budgets and when a piece of equipment starts giving you a hard time.

Should You Finance or Use Your Own Capital?
If you’re not part of a major chain, you’re in a unique position to try out food trends as they emerge. This means you can add new menu items and test them to see if they prove popular before making a major investment. Imagine adding espresso beverages or in-house gelato and the additional profit you could enjoy! Both require expensive equipment and you won’t truly know until if they are a fit for your customers until you add them to your menu, but both add great revenue if they are indeed what your target customer wants. For any equipment priced above $5,000, renting it worry free for the first year is the best way to ensure you’re making the money you want before you make the commitment to purchase it.

If you’re part of a chain and have flexibility to opt-in on a piece of equipment, you may utilize this option as well. There are companies like Silver Chef and Econolease who offer one-year rental programs to help you reduce the risk and allow you to be adventurous without being too worried about cost. Both finance companies mentioned above also offer longer lease options that might fit your needs as well. You might also consider using financing to replace aging equipment when the annual cost of repairs has become increasingly high but you don’t have – or don’t want to – spend your own capital.

If you asked your kitchen team today how your critical pieces of kitchen equipment are running, would they say everything is working exactly as it should? If not, why not make “March Maintenance” a focus for your operations this month? We would be happy to sit down with you and discuss what type of maintenance program would best suit your needs. Contact us anytime.

Author Trish Hudson

Trish is the owner and principal at Holistic Hospitality Solutions. She aims to help assess her clients operations from top to bottom in order to gain efficiencies, save money, and increase their bottom line.

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