In a recent blog post, we addressed the topic of restaurant fire prevention. Hopefully, all restaurant owners would rather prevent a fire than deal with the aftermath. But what about the aftermath when a walk-in refrigerator fails causing a total loss of food? If your walk-in breaks down, you could lose thousands of dollars in product, lose again by missing out on revenue, and lose a third time with the cost of repairing the unit.
The best way to deal with the many potential issues that pop up in restaurants is to prevent them. A planned service program for your kitchen equipment is the preventative measure you need to avoid big problems in your restaurant. Here are three compelling reasons to call a certified service company today.
Technicians Will Know Your Business
Having a bond between the tech and the restaurant ensures that they understand your needs and, just as importantly, your equipment. Jim S., a CFESA certified Master Technician here at Parts Town, says the working relationship can really benefit your restaurant. “Service companies take great pains to make sure the same techs go to the same places to build trust, familiarity, and comfort,” he says. A service tech will know the tendencies of your equipment, have information on technical bulletins or recalls, and know about approved modifications for the equipment.
It’s great to develop a relationship with someone who understands the equipment, but if you only call when there’s a problem, the service company won’t understand your specific needs. Techs can also recommend changes in procedure and maintenance. Jim recalls one issue with a failed thermostat in a deck oven and a manager’s reluctance to have it serviced. “[The manager] purchased metal mesh screens to elevate the pizza off the ceramic deck because it was overheating. She was changing bake times and temperatures, doing all sorts of things to compensate,” he says. Once she finally called a technician, the fix was easy. The manager went to great lengths to deal with the problem, but not to directly fix it at first.
Potential Problems Can Be Identified
Service technicians can tell when certain parts are failing or old and in need of replacement. There are many pieces of equipment still in service today using a mercury pilot safety. When these parts fail, it can cost thousands to replace them with the modern equivalent.
Other parts may not visually seem off but a technician can tell using tools that a part is failing, like checking refrigerant charge using gauges. “Subtle and slow leaks will only reveal themselves when checked with a gauge. Those leaks may not have altered standard operations of a refrigeration unit but they will,” Jim says a breakdown like this can be costly.
When a tech identifies problems like these, it gives you time to budget a replacement option, whether it is component replacement or a new piece of equipment. The tech can, of course, give you recommendations on which option is best for your business.
Real Problems Can Be Prevented
Placing items too close to an evaporator in a walk-in refrigeration unit can block airflow, which creates hot and cold spots and causes the unit to work harder. If your cooler isn’t temping out in a certain spot and a health inspector takes note of it, you could be calling a service tech in for a problem that was easily preventable.
Jim recalls a time when a new manager dealt with what ended up being a glycol system failure in a beer dispensing system. “The manager estimated half the product was going down the drain just trying to pour a pitcher or pint,” he says. “Bartenders are just trying to serve patrons, and they would not have known any differently, but a service technician would have noticed that immediately.” Furthermore, this shows the restaurant wasn’t having beer lines cleaned on a regular basis.
So how often should you have maintenance performed? Jim says it would make a huge difference if you can schedule technicians to come a minimum of twice a year. “I can’t tell you how many places I’ve never been to before, and it’s too late; the restaurant is hard down until parts are available,” he says. So save yourself the headache and consider the peace of mind you’ll have with a planned service program.