No operator wants to make an emergency repair call, but sometimes they’re completely unavoidable.
That doesn’t mean they have to be a complete pain, though. There are a number of steps restaurants and other foodservice operations can take to make minimize the frustration and expense of an emergency repair.
According to Nechoh Calloway, service technician with service agency EMR, these steps start with the initial call for repair. The more detail, the better.
“Provide what’s actually going wrong instead of just saying that it’s not working. Is it not heating? Is it not cooling? That can narrow it down and save time,” says Calloway.
Along with a description of the problem, pictures or video of a malfunctioning unit are also very useful. Seeing the problem in action can help service agencies prepare for a call. Seeing an error code can help them prepare even more.
“The error code narrows it down to the specific area of the equipment that is the problem. That lets us focus in instead of going through the entire unit,” says Calloway. Error codes, in fact, can help a technician bring the necessary replacement parts to the call, increasing the odds of a first-call fix and, in turn, reducing the repair bill.
An operator’s job does not end with making the call to a service company. It’s imperative that the kitchen team know that a technician will be in the kitchen.
Knowing this allows the team to prepare and adjust for the technician. If possible, a kitchen team can shift operations to give the service agent room to work. At a minimum, eliminating an unwelcome surprise can minimize frustration for everyone involved, Calloway says.
In any case, there are a few definite do’s and don’ts that a kitchen team should follow when a technician is on the way, adds Calloway.
- Do empty a malfunctioning refrigerator. Keeping the food in a unit may make life on the production line easier, but it’s simply not safe food handling.
- Related: Don’t use ice to keep food in a broken refrigerator at temperature. The food safety issue remains, and the technician will simply spend billable hours moving bags of ice.
- Don’t cook with a hot unit that needs a repair. Even if it can be used safely, the technician will have to wait for it to cool down before beginning work, leading, once again, to wasted billable hours.
- Make space. If the broken equipment can be easily moved, do make a space away from the production line where the technician can work on the piece. This is usually limited to countertop equipment and refrigerators on casters.
- Don’t tinker with a unit’s water or gas lines. Leave any disconnections to the professionals.
Emergency repair calls are never a pleasure. By being clear with the service agency and preparing a kitchen for the arrival of a technician, though, operators can keep the pain, the expense to a minimum.