Good quality and well functioning restaurant equipment is the backbone of a restaurant’s success. While you may be able to operate a restaurant without regular equipment maintenance in the short run, in the long run this practice is going to add to costs, decrease equipment utility, lead to wastage, decrease profit margins and ultimately end up in higher costs and losses, especially if the equipment breaks down at an unfortunate time like right before opening time.
Regular maintenance of Restaurant Equipment is not just practical if you want to avoid last-minute emergencies but also extremely cost-effective. According to a recent survey by an industry association, chains who have set up formalized processes, technology, and people in place to manage repairs spend 50 per cent less than the industry average.
Here is a detailed explanation of why you should consider regular equipment maintenance and how to achieve this goal.
Need for Proper Restaurant Equipment Care and Maintenance
Maintaining restaurant equipment comes with a fair share of reasons and advantages. The most significant reasons as to why you must maintain your restaurant equipment are mentioned below.
1. Cost Effective in the Long Run
Restaurant equipment is expensive and so are the bigger repairs that are out of warranty. Regular check-ups and maintenance prove to be pocket-friendly in the long run. Minor faults and damages can be easily spotted and fixed when equipment is regularly maintained. This way while normal maintenance cost is added to your wallet, in the bigger scheme of things cost of repairing equipment damage of a higher degree is avoided. The cost of repairing a high degree of damage is far more than regularly maintaining the equipment which makes regular maintenance a much better option. Apart from that, poorly maintained equipment use more energy and will add to your energy bills.
What is more is that regular maintenance increases equipment life so the cost of having to buy new equipment is also deferred. Even the cost of food wastage is decreased as the scenario of wastage due to poor machine performance is eliminated. To add to that, equipment warranties cover only the first few years wherein the chances of a huge breakage is less. So using those warranties on regularly maintaining your equipment makes the entire process of equipment maintenance itself very cheap.
2. Helps in Maintaining the Food Quality
The state of your equipment directly impacts the state of your food. Remember even if the chefs cooking in your kitchen are the best of the best, if the tools that they use are faulty, there is only so much that they can do. The quality of food will definitely deteriorate even if just slightly. On the other hand, if your equipment is well maintained, its performance will compliment the chef and enable him/her to experiment, take risks and create food that is leagues above other restaurants.
3. Help in Maintaining the Speed of Operations
What apart from food quality can equipment impact you ask? The speed of operations in your kitchen. Depreciated equipment means slower preparation time, slow work and thus slow cooking and serving of food in the restaurant which will make you lose both sales and customers. To ensure that this does not happen you must make sure that all pieces of equipment that you have are in their best condition which can be achieved only through regular maintenance.
4. Bigger Monetary Payback On the Machine Itself
In every restaurateur’s life comes a time when he/she lets go of old equipment for new models. A piece of equipment which is well maintained will obviously fetch a better price when compared to a damaged piece of machinery. This can impact how expensive in the net effect the next equipment will be.
5. Increases the Equipment Life
When equipment is operated upon regularly, normal wear and tear is a given. Regular maintenance ensures that there is no extra damage apart from this anticipated depreciation of the machine. Thus regular equipment maintenance in restaurants ensures that the equipment damage does not lead to its premature breakdown. That way the life of equipment is sustained and in fact, increased because even the effects of regular depreciation are substantially decreased. When you maintain your equipment regularly, you can spot minor damages and get them fixed which averts bigger, more hazardous damages and increases equipment life.
7. Healthy and Hygienic
Finally, restaurant equipment needs regular maintenance because it is a healthy habit. Regular equipment maintenance includes regular sanitization. This ensures that the hygiene of food and restaurant is not compromised. What is more even health codes laid by FSSAI urge regular cleanups and restaurant equipment maintenance.
8. Reduces Fire Hazard
Most fires in restaurant kitchens are caused due to equipment breakdown. Regular maintenance of kitchen equipment ensures that there is no risk of a fire hazard.
Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Checklist
Now that it has been established that you need to regularly maintain your restaurant equipment, next comes how to do so. Here we have for you major equipment maintenance practices in restaurants and some more tips regarding the same.
1. Vent, Hood and Duct Cleaning
The vent, hood and duct must be cleaned on a regular basis to remove grease from vapour from the structure. This cleanup must be done by a qualified contractor at least once every six months. Between these 6 month service dates the staff should clean the visible parts at least.
2. Grease Filter Cleaning
Grease filters collect grease from the vapours travelling to the duct. While they make duct cleaning easier, the filters need to be cleaned regularly or there may be a severe fire hazard. The filters must be cleaned at least once a week and more often if the cooking in the kitchen involves more greasy food.
3. Deep Fat Fryer Inspection
This is the biggest fire hazard of any commercial kitchen. The fryer needs to be maintained and cleaned as per the manufacturer’s guidance and must be at least cleaned daily. Moreover, you need to get the fryer inspected by a qualified commercial cooking equipment contractor at least 12 months prior to its use for five years. The inspection is very important as it will include items which are inaccessible and potentially dangerous to untrained staff.
4. Automatic Extinguishing Systems Service
In the case of a fire, your automatic extinguishing system must be ready to work in an instant. For that to happen you must get this system inspected by a qualified contractor at least once every six months.
Other Tips For Restaurant Equipment Maintenance
Here are some general tips for regular maintenance for your restaurant equipment.
- Instead of assuming, always turn to the manual for the correct maintenance procedures. It is better to flip through the guide than damage the equipment by doing something unnecessary.
- Go through the warranty details and fill out and return the card in time for the warranty to be applicable. A lot of times the warranty is valid only if the warranty card is filled and returned in the specified time but most people do not go through the details and miss this step. Because of this, they can not avail the warranty benefits and even regular maintenance becomes an expensive affair.
- Train your employees in proper equipment etiquette. Not only must they know how to use this equipment but also how to leave it after use and how to clean it at the end of the day. Little things on a daily basis go a long way.
- Create a schedule of restaurant equipment cleaning and stick to it. While all pieces of equipment will be wiped clean daily, as far as deep cleaning goes, for the equipment that you have to maintain yourself, create a schedule in advance. This schedule will be based on the maintenance needs of each restaurant equipment and should ideally follow a cyclic pattern.
- Do not try to ‘Fix’ the restaurant equipment yourself. In case you feel something is broken call an expert no matter how redundant it may seem. You may unknowingly cause greater damage which will be extremely expensive to fix. Also, remember that most warranties are deemed null in case self-repair is attempted on the product so no matter how tempted you may be to take a look yourself, do not do so.
- Always follow chemical instructions. Do not just assume that every cleaning agent is the same. The chemical which may work wonders on one piece of equipment may just corrode another. Train your staff to not accidentally use the wrong chemical or the equipment may just get damaged beyond repair. This is especially true in case of stainless steel out of which most restaurant equipment are made.
Restaurant Equipment Maintenance may come with extra effort but in the end, all of that extra labour is worth the results. If you do not already start maintaining your restaurant equipment on a regular basis and the positive results will surprise you!