Pros and Cons of a Restaurant Maintenance Plan
Restaurants need essential equipment, such as refrigerators, ovens, deep fryers, ice machines, dishwashers, and cookware, to stay in business. Many restaurant owners assume that purchasing these appliances (and budgeting for them) is all they need for a successful restaurant business. But the reality is that maintaining your appliances is far more critical to keep your restaurant up and to run. It’s here where a restaurant maintenance plan comes in.
Let’s assume your refrigerator or dishwasher breaks down unexpectedly during peak hours. It can force you to close your business until you arrange a repair or replacement. Now think about that incident’s adverse effects on your bottom line and customer experience.
Fortunately, you can use different maintenance plans or strategies to prevent or manage such situations. You can even use a combination of restaurant maintenance plans, depending on your restaurant size and appliance types. We’ve summarized various restaurant maintenance plans, along with their pros and cons, to help you make the right choice.
Preventive maintenance involves regular upkeep of your restaurant appliances to prevent them from sudden failures. With this type of restaurant maintenance plan in place, your staff doesn’t wait for equipment breakdown to happen. Instead, they take the safest route by being proactive and running essential maintenance chores at regular intervals. This strategy can prevent costly repairs and replacements.
Pros of Preventive Maintenance
- Increases your equipment’s life span
- Prevents costly repairs and replacements
- Prevents business downtime and revenue loss
- Improves customer experience
- Higher return on investment in the long-run
- Lower energy consumption
- Enhanced safety and better regulatory compliance
- Higher efficiency and productivity
Cons of Preventive Maintenance
- Labor intensive
- Requires higher maintenance budget
- Requires more standby workforce
- Equipment downtime during routine maintenance can affect short-term productivity
- Likelihood of over-maintenance
Preventive maintenance is best for you if you have a large restaurant or a chain. You can reduce maintenance costs by performing preventative maintenance only on high-value equipment, such as the HVAC system, refrigerators, and combi ovens.
For example, if you have a pizza restaurant, you can use this maintenance strategy for your pizza oven and mixer because these machines are central to your business. When appropriately implemented, preventive maintenance can save you money and improve customer experience in the long-run. Remember the old saying “an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure.”
Reactive maintenance is the opposite of preventive care. When using this strategy, you don’t fix your piece of equipment until it experiences faults or breaks down. In other words, you wait for the equipment to become unusable, and then you repair it or buy a new one.
Pros of Reactive Maintenance
- No initial investment
- Less complicated and requires less planning
- Requires less standby workforce
- Cost-effective when applied to low-value equipment
Cons of Reactive Maintenance
- Can trigger costly repairs and replacements
- Determining a budget for reactive maintenance is difficult
- Prolonged downtime and revenue loss when critical equipment breaks
- Sudden equipment breakdown can be catastrophic for customer experience
- Can force you to close your business if workforce, spare parts, and replacements are not available
- Higher safety risk and serious compliance implications
- Distraction and loss of focus
- More costly in the long-run
Given the cons of reactive maintenance, you might choose not to use this plan. However, reactive maintenance can be a good approach for smaller restaurants that can’t afford preventive maintenance and don’t use high-value equipment. Moreover, large restaurants and restaurant chains can opt to use this strategy for low-value equipment.
For example, you can choose reactive maintenance for a grill if your restaurant isn’t famous for burgers and grilled sandwiches. On the other hand, if you’re known for deep-fried foods, you should avoid using reactive maintenance for your deep fryer. Instead, you should resort to preventive maintenance for this piece of equipment.
When using a predictive maintenance plan, your restaurant’s maintenance staff forecasts when a piece of equipment might malfunction or breakdown, and then does essential maintenance to keep the equipment operational. This strategy does not involve regular upkeep like preventive maintenance. As such, it does not require frequent equipment shut down that can otherwise affect short-term productivity. Instead, you shut down your piece of equipment and carry out maintenance just before a potential breakdown.
Predictive maintenance involves the use of condition monitoring to keep track of the health of your equipment. For example, you’ll collect data about the vibration or temperature of a machine to forecast if and when a fault or failure might happen.
Pros of Predictive Maintenance
- Keeps equipment downtime to a minimum
- Reduces maintenance cost
- Reduces risk of sudden equipment breakdown
- Improves reliability
Cons of Predictive Maintenance
- Higher initial investment
- Collected data may not always be correct
- Requires more time to assess equipment health and implement predictive maintenance
Predictive maintenance can be used in large restaurants. Large restaurants typically have high-value equipment. Predictive maintenance can ensure your equipment is in good health, and your operations aren’t affected by sudden breakdowns. It also ensures your machines are at peak productivity even in the short-run. Smaller restaurants generally can’t afford predictive maintenance as it involves higher investment.
What Type of Restaurant Maintenance Plan is Best for You?
Based on the pros and cons of different maintenance plans discussed above, you might already have clues in mind as to what can work best for you. If you have a small restaurant that does not have high-value equipment, you are good to go with reactive maintenance.
If you have a large restaurant or high-value equipment in your restaurant, you should choose between preventive and predictive maintenance. For low-cost equipment and equipment not central to your operations, you can use reactive maintenance even in large restaurants. Keep in mind that preventive and predictive maintenance strategies require higher upfront costs but can save you from unexpected and costly repairs and replacements.
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About the Author
Warren Wu has years of restaurant experience from being a waiter at Common Theory Public House in San Diego, California. He is now the Head of Growth for UpKeep, a software company that helps companies streamline their maintenance.