Equipment will breakdown in a restaurant; it is a nearly unavoidable fact. However, implementing maintenance procedures will improve communication between staff members and management. These procedures are necessary for the creation of a system of responsibility that will improve organization and reduce the timeline from breakdown to repair.
There are two types of maintenance procedures that every restaurant should put in place:
- Reactive maintenance
- Preventive maintenance
Reactive Maintenance Procedures
When a piece of equipment breaks down, there needs to be a reactive maintenance procedure in place so employees can create a maintenance request right away. Reactive maintenance is the process of repairing equipment after a breakdown has occurred. There are generally four basic steps needed for an efficient reactive maintenance plan.
Those four steps are:
- Identify the task
- Report the breakdown
Step 1: Identify the task
Once a breakdown occurs, the staff member that identified the malfunction will need to start
collecting as much data as possible about the breakdown. This can include the following:
- What piece of equipment broke down?
- Where is it located?
- When and how did it happen?
- Who was using the equipment when it broke down?
- Photographic evidence
Not only will this information come in handy to create a work request, but if the breakdown occurred due to misuse of the equipment, you can then adjust training to avoid future issues.
Step 2: Report the breakdown
The next step is to create a work request with all the facts you’ve gathered about the breakdown. Here are some key elements you should include in a work request:
- Requester - Name of person creating the request
- Issue - What equipment and how it broke down
- Location - Where and which restaurant
- Priority - Low, medium, high
It is recommended to create a work request template for all your staff members to use to reduce errors and ensure consistency. Additionally, by creating a work request template, you can tell your staff exactly what data they need to collect when a piece of equipment breaks down.
Step 3: Approval
Approval provides necessary oversight to the maintenance process. This step is usually the duty of the general manager or owner and allows them to filter out work requests depending on priority, issue, or location. The approver helps prioritize maintenance requests and ensures that the maintenance procedures are being followed.
Here are some things to consider before approving a work request:
- Is the equipment still under warranty? If so, you will need to check with the manufacturer about repairs.
- Is the equipment a low-cost item? If so, it might make sense to just replace the item rather than repairing it.
Step 4: Repair
Once a work request is approved, the owner or general manager must assign the work order to a maintenance technician whether it’s inhouse or a contractor. The work order should have a due date so all staff members can be aware of when the equipment will be available to use.
Preventive Maintenance Procedure
Preventive maintenance procedures ensure that the likelihood of unnecessary repairs are kept to a minimum. This is a system that provides regular service to keep high valued equipment in functional status longer. Often in a restaurant, they are incorporated into the front and back of house side work.
The typical steps to creating preventive maintenance procedures are:
- Identify Needs
- Identify Frequency
- Choose Staff
- Create a Checklist
- Train Staff
Step 1: Identify Needs
To best identify the maintenance needs, consult the owner’s manual. The manual will often tell you the maintenance needs of your equipment. If you find the manual to be lacking in information sometimes health code regulations can be beneficial. For example, in the owner’s manuals of most refrigeration units, it is recommended to clean refrigeration unit condenser coils periodically.
Step 2: Identify Frequency
To determine the frequency of your proactive maintenance, consult the owner’s manual first. If the manual doesn’t tell you a frequency, then it’s best to use a conservative time-based interval based on your past maintenance records. Over time, you can adjust the frequency based on any unplanned maintenance of the piece of equipment. If you’re doing preventive maintenance on a piece of equipment and it is having lots of unplanned maintenance, then you know you’ll need to increase the frequency of the planned maintenance.
Step 3: Choose Staff
You should choose staff based upon who has more contact with the equipment. With our refrigeration unit example, the walk-in should be serviced by the back of house or kitchen staff while smaller reach-ins should be serviced by the front of house.
Step 4: Create a Checklist
Creating a checklist of tasks for your staff to accomplish is important. This allows you to show your staff what is expected of them during their shift and allows you to understand the frequency of completion of these tasks.
Step 5: Train Staff
Training on the proper maintenance procedures will ensure that your plan is carried out effectively and that none of the measures harm your equipment. This step is often much easier to implement in a brand new restaurant where standards are being created one day at a time.
Step 6: Reassessment
It is important to reassess your needs after some time. You can use either previous breakdowns or you can ask the employees to assess what difficulties they have noticed in their tasks. For example, you may have instituted a weekly condenser cleaning schedule for your refrigeration units only to find that the staff has noticed there is often lots of accumulated dust and debris. To deal with this situation you can increase your frequency.
No matter whether it is preventive or reactive maintenance procedures these methods are crucial to implement for your restaurant. Having these procedures will improve the function of your restaurant in the following three ways. Maintenance procedures will simplify rules, create a flow of duties, and ensure that nothing is missed.