If it ain't broke, get ready to fix it

When it comes to equipment maintenance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I take working machinery for granted. Until it breaks, that is. You know equipment only breaks down on Friday night, during a lunch rush, or before a 400 brunch Sunday. At least that was my experience.

And warranties? They really don't matter, becuase most of the time I can't find the file — or pile — with the specs, company information and operations manual.

Every time this happened, I'd kick myself and swear to get my act together. I'd promise to put my paperwork in order, and schedule regular maintenance checks to avoid the unavoidable.

The average casual dining operation has half a million dollars in hard assets that need and deserve constant attention. A good preventive maintenance system is a must, and here are a few of the reasons why:


It always takes less time, and it's infinitely more convenient to be proactive. Conduct maintenance checks when you're closed instead of dealing with a problem during a rush.


It's a lot cheaper to make a small repair on your own time than pay a repairman overtime to fix a big problem. A comprehensive and regularly followed preventive maintenance system can help you operate 20% more efficiently, and cut your repair and maintenance costs.


Poor planning and inefficiencies can be the source of low morale and on-the-job injuries. Employees can get backaches from working on at a prep table that's too high or too low. Line cooks in overheated kitchens may leave for cooler climates. And no employees take pride in a workplace that's dirty and in disrepair. Ask your employees for suggestions on how to make their work environment more efficient and pleasant.

Guest perception

What are the top three factors guests consider when choosing where to dine? Food, service and CLEANLINESS! That's right, cleanliness. That includes floors, walls and ceilings, as well as the condition of your bar, service stations, kitchen equipment and the soap dispensers in the bathrooms.

Safety & Sanitation

Keep your operation in tip-top sanitary condition and avoid foodborne illness. Make sure refrigeration is cold, and roasters are hot to avoid unwanted germs.

Avoid unexpected breakdowns and costly overtime repairs with a simple routine of regular maintenance checks. Our preventive mainteance system has two key components.

Repair & maintenance audit

  • Walk through your entire operation, from front gate to back door, and look for anything that looks worn, broken, or in need of cleaning or regular maintenance
  • Jot down each item on a Repair & Maintenance Audit form. We've provided a blank form, and a sample to show the kinds of things to look for.
  • Decide which jobs can be done in-house, and which need to be outsourced
  • Prioritize the jobs, and incorporate them into your Critical Path

Equipment maintenance sheet

  • The equipment in your operation is one of your most valuable assets. Keep it happy and healthy by tracking its maintenance requirements and service.
  • For each piece of equipment, fill out an Equipment Maintenance Sheet. Include as much information as possible from factory manuals or service records.
  • Keep all of the sheets in one place for easy reference. When something breaks or warranty information is needed, you'll know right where to go.
  • Use the Equipment Maintenance Sheets to schedule maintenance work ahead of time.


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