Given the business climate in recent years, it is understandable why so many companies have had to cut back. It's hard to find a business that's not doing more with less these days.

Christopher-FlessasChristopher FlessasIn the foodservice industry, one of the first areas operators cut back on is the way they service and maintain their foodservice equipment, which, time and time again, is counterproductive. During slow times, where managing pennies makes all the difference to a company's bottom line, it makes more sense to pay even greater attention to the details to help get the optimum service life from a piece of equipment.

Many operators demonstrate a certain attention to detail in terms of customer service and menu construction. Wise managers extend this consideration to their foodservice equipment. That's because the savvy foodservice operator understands that in the long run proper care and maintenance of equipment not only saves them money by reducing the likelihood of pricey repairs but it helps them maximize their earning potential by minimizing foodservice equipment downtime.

It has been our experience that when visiting a foodservice operator for a first-time warranty claim roughly 20 percent of those calls are the result of improper installation and not component or equipment failure. Manufacturer warranties limit coverage for claims made as a result of improper installation and the costs to correct these problems tend to be higher once a kitchen is in operation. Additionally, design or engineering flaws may not be detected as quickly with improperly installed equipment. Whether installing a new kitchen or just purchasing a new piece of equipment it is vital for operators to verify their installers are knowledgeable in a foodservice environment and will adhere to all of the installation instructions.

Remember that little details translate into big dollars. Make sure condensing coils remain clean and keep doors closed when refrigerators are not in use. Clean and sanitize ice machines regularly. De-lime combi ovens regularly and keep the unit's drains clear of debris. When cleaning and sanitizing equipment, make sure staff use the recommended chemicals. If not used properly, equipment failures and inefficiencies can lead to costly downtime and repairs.

When it comes to maintaining equipment, operators should stick to basic cleaning tasks and leave adjustments, calibrations, and the like to service professionals during planned maintenance visits. This ensures units run properly, which impacts food quality and consistency.

Other general maintenance tips include:

  • Check circuit breakers, fuses, and ensure cords are plugged in before placing a service call.
  • Never hose down the equipment.
  • Clean equipment daily per manufacturer guidelines.
  • Insist on factory trained and certified technicians whenever possible.
  • Have the technician check other equipment while there. The most expensive part of a service call is getting the technician to your door.

Most people agree that the foodservice industry is only as good as its relationships. It is important to factor service into the equation, too.