Great chefs and quality ingredients — You may think that’s all a restaurant needs to deliver raving dishes. However, you might be ignoring a key part of the equation that must be costing you in both food quality and operational costs.
The quality of your restaurant equipment directly impacts your service. Dirty grills might add unpleasant flavors to that chicken you’re about to dish out. Not to forget, equipment that isn’t serviced regularly leads to massive costs that plague restaurants around the world.
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But, how do you make sure that your restaurant equipment is being managed properly? Let’s find out.
What Is Restaurant Equipment Management & Why Is It Important?
Restaurant equipment management is tracking all your assets to make sure:
- you’ve got enough items and equipment at hand at all times
- your equipment is serviced and functioning well
- your equipment is meeting all restaurant compliance requirements
- you can forecast when your equipment needs to be replaced
Regularly serviced equipment and a well-stocked restaurant bring tons of advantages to restaurant owners. Here’s a look at the most important ones.
1. Have Enough Assets & Stock At Hand
The first one’s the obvious one. Restaurants deal with customers walking in throughout the day with some hours getting unpredictably busy as well.
This means that they always need to have enough equipment and a pantry to be able to service everyone that walks in.
This is easy to do if you’re managing your restaurant equipment and stock in a database. This keeps a total of the count and type of machinery you have.
2. Avoid Sudden Downtime
Ever walked into a McDonald’s wanting a McFlurry but had to leave without it? Equipment that isn’t serviced regularly has a habit of unexpectedly breaking down - just like your favorite ice cream machines.
If that doesn’t help put things into context, imagine your refrigerators breaking down. That means your entire stock will go bad and lead to massive losses.
In addition to this, several machines are often installed in the kitchen and cannot be replaced with backups. They may also be extremely expensive to replace, limiting restaurants to keeping only a small supply at their institution.
Given these circumstances, an untimely breakdown means the restaurant can no longer offer certain items on the menu. This leads to a dip in sales but more importantly, results in a bunch of unhappy customers and several complaints that your team has to spend time resolving.
Restaurant equipment management helps resolve these problems so your assets are always functioning to the best of their abilities.
3. Decrease Operational Costs
All pieces of equipment wear down over time but if you’re letting them run to the point of failure, your parts acquire severe damage.
As one worn-out part of a machine continues to be used, it also impacts other parts of the equipment, leading to what you can call a “domino effect of damage”. These one-off repairs are much more expensive than several periodic inspections.
Regularly maintaining your restaurant equipment helps make sure that all parts are fixed before they lead to major breakdowns.
And the best part? You get more out of your equipment by extending its lifespan. You’re also able to better forecast costs and budget accordingly.
4. Maintain Hygiene And Safety
Cleaning and sanitization are key aspects of restaurant equipment management.
Experts state that a single foodborne illness outbreak can cost a business about $75,000. That’s not all of course.
That price also comes with a huge blow to the restaurant’s reputation. Equipment maintenance and sanitary inspections ensure that all your gadgets are clean and working well.
In addition to the safety of your customers, it’s equally important to look after your employees as well. The major cause behind fires in the kitchen is worn-down appliances. Grease filters keep collecting grease which could easily set the kitchen ablaze so these need to be regularly cleaned.
When your equipment is well maintained and meets all safety and compliance requirements, it’s also less likely to lead to accidents in the kitchen. This means protection for both employees and customers.
5. Better Service
We all want our customers to enjoy their time at our location. Interestingly, well-managed equipment adds to that positive experience. Here’s how:
- With your appliances and gear working well, you’re able to prepare complex dishes while maintaining quality, hygiene, and taste.
- You’re also able to prepare food on time, avoiding delays from equipment that isn’t running efficiently.
3 Ways To Manage Restaurant Equipment Maintenance
Now that we’ve gotten the ‘why’ out of the way, let’s move on to the ‘how’.
The benefits of managing restaurant equipment are many but how exactly can you set up an equipment management program at your institution?
First, you need to get a compliance manager on board. They’ll be responsible for ensuring that all inspections and carried out in a timely manner.
Second, you need equipment experts or staff to inspect each piece of equipment periodically. Here are the three ways to solve this problem.
1. Pen & Paper
Many restaurants have been using pen and paper to track their equipment for decades. This is a simple way to track assets and doesn’t require any special training.
All you have to do is create inspection checklists and print guidelines for each piece of equipment.
Here’s the process:
- List down all the regulations and safety guidelines you need to follow. You can also access them from the FDA website.
- Create an equipment maintenance checklist for all your equipment and appliances. Print these out.
- Create a maintenance calendar and schedule inspection and maintenance dates on it.
- Based on the schedule, the compliance manager will have these carried out. Certain inspections will require an external specialist to carry them out safely.
- Once the checklists have been completed, store them in a safe place such as a filing cabinet.
Want to download a printable equipment maintenance checklist?
So, that was the process. But is this the right approach for you? Let’s have a look at the pros and cons.
- Paper checklists are easy for old-school staff to understand
- Also fast to get started, with little to no learning curve.
- Do not require tech or electronics
- Compliance managers will have to be able to interpret handwriting for any technician that helps service appliances.
- Paper documents have a high risk of getting lost or damaged.
- It’s hard to monitor how long an inspection takes.
- Combining all these reports and assessing asset health becomes hard when you have to manually look at the reports for each asset.
2. Using an Excel Sheet
The second approach is to digitize inspection checklists via Excel. This is an improvement from the pen-and-paper method where all inspections can be carried out on a computer, tablet, or phone. This helps ensure data is easy to reference and also safe. You can either create your own or use pre-built Excel inspection logs to get started.
Here’s the quick process:
- Download the Excel checklist.
- Email this to the technician responsible for the inspection or repair.
- The technician carries out this task on their phone or tablet and shares the completed document with the compliance manager.
- The Excel sheet is saved and stored in an online company database such as Google Drive.
Here’s a look at the detailed process.
- Digital tool that’s also free forever
- Fast to get started with a pre-built checklist
- Can be printed or saved to PDF to maintain online
- Easy to reference data and confirm work progress
- Requires basic Excel knowledge
- Difficult to use on mobile when servicing equipment
- Can accidentally break functionality
- Does not scale with multiple types of maintenance logs, you just have one file that you keep creating copies of. This quickly becomes tough to track.
- Limited functionality for team operations
3. Using Equipment Management Software
The third alternative is to use a dedicated equipment management tool to automate maintenance and inspection tasks.
This method offers an upgrade from Excel as maintenance management tools often come with pre-built inspection checklists to help restaurants cover all their bases.
Equipment management apps also offer tons of other features to help businesses get on top of their equipment. You can schedule tasks ahead of time, set recurring inspections, and track asset health for each of your appliances.
- Digital solution for equipment management
- Keeps data safe and secure on the cloud
- Equipment data is easy to access and reference at any time
- Usually easy to use on any device, be it a phone, tablet, or computer
- Contains pre-built checklists for restaurants to use right away
- Often require paying a monthly fee to use.
- Require teams to learn the tool which can take a while.
Let’s have a look at a few of our top picks.
First Pick: Xenia
Xenia is a complete operations and maintenance management tool that offers maintenance logs and hundreds of templates for restaurants to use.
You can also create tasks and assign them to team members. This creates a single repository of all your inspection tasks, assignments, progress, and asset data. You’re also able to track each task's progress within Xenia, rather than running after your techs to ask them if they got around to completing an inspection.
Here are some key features that make Xenia a great fit for restaurants:
- Ease of use: Xenia is built for teams that are constantly on their feet, getting work done in fast-paced environments. This means that it’s easy for people who aren’t tech-savvy to learn it. It’s also very accessible from mobile, tablets, and laptops.
- PM scheduling: Schedule preventive maintenance for all your equipment and appliances and get alerts so you never miss any.
- Work order management: Manage all work orders from one place. Assign work to team members and work closely with them to succeed.
- Unlimited checklists: Use as many pre-built checklists as you like to start inspections immediately. Maintain records for each of these logs.
- Customized process documentation: Create your own checklists and personalized SOPs so you’re able to train everyone on the team efficiently.
- Instant chats: Xenia makes it easy to communicate in chat rooms or comment on tasks so people don’t have to use a different app when troubleshooting a task. This makes it easy to reference work when discussing it as well.
- Task oversight: View all your tasks in one place, use the calendar view to get a sense of which items are due when, track completion rate, and run reports. You can also save reports as PDF and CSV.
- Unlimited photos, logs, reports: Upload however many photos. Track logs for all your inspections and run detailed reports.
- Digital equipment health record: Create audit trails for each of your equipment to track all the inspections and repairs it has undergone, track health, and forecast lifespan.
Xenia starts at 15 USD per user per month. It offers a free trial for you to explore the app before you make a commitment to purchase. This makes it an economical CMMS that’s still packed with features for teams to enhance their equipment management processes.
Second Pick: MaintainX
MaintainX is a workflow management tool that was designed to facilitate maintenance tasks. It also offers inventory management and lets restaurants create purchase orders to maintain inventory stocks.
The scheduling feature isn’t as robust so some customers prefer to use this along with a project management tool.
Here are some of the key features:
- Preventive maintenance: Schedule tasks in advance and be proactive with maintenance.
- Asset management: Track assets, their downtime, and health. You can also keep track of inventory counts to schedule re-orders.
- Work order management: Create work orders and manage your repairs in real time.
- Checklists: Create detailed checklists for all your inspection and repair tasks.
- Instant messaging: Collaborate with your team in real time with instant messaging from within the app.
MaintainX starts at 10 USD a month per user but offers limited functionality. At this price, you can only create 3 work orders with attached procedure lists and view reports for the past 3 months only. To set up a comprehensive equipment management program, you have to opt for a Premium plan that starts at $39 per month.
Third Pick: Upkeep
Upkeep is a heavy-duty CMMS that is ideal for enterprise businesses that house a large stock of critical equipment. The app boasts powerful features but the user interface can get tough to navigate.
Here are the key features of the app:
- Asset management: Track utilization and reliability for all your assets.
- Work order management: Create work order requests and manage repair tasks in real time.
- Preventive maintenance: Set up scheduled maintenance tasks.
- Safety & compliance: Set up regulatory compliance and maintain audit trails.
- Integrations: Integrate with other apps in your tech stack to top up functionality.
Upkeep starts at $45 per user per month, which means that the price climbs steeply depending on how big your staff is.
Your restaurant equipment plays a key role in helping your business succeed. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your assets are always healthy and working to the best of their abilities.
In this pursuit, restaurants need to create equipment management programs at their eateries so they’re able to save costs, reduce equipment downtime, and improve their service. This also helps employees take equipment care and maintenance seriously.
There are multiple ways to get this done but using a dedicated equipment management platform helps digitize inspection and repair processes so you’re able to maintain all your data in one place, perform tasks on time, implement preventive maintenance, and get complete oversight of all the projects that are underway at any given time.