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Restaurant Maintenance

One of the most overlooked but beneficial ways to improve your restaurant’s profit margin is to focus on the maintenance needs of your restaurant kitchen equipment. Focusing on restaurant maintenance is one of the best ways to improve the performance of your restaurant and better your financial standing, all in one move. 

Here are the Five Keys to Restaurant Maintenance

1. Improve Health and Hygiene

Improving the health and hygiene of a restaurant is important in maintaining profit margins. One way to improve health and hygiene and keep a watch on the bottom line of your restaurant is to reduce grease buildup. To do this you need to ensure that the kitchen staff works on cleaning the vent, hood, ducts, and other parts of the cooking equipment for grease on a regular basis. This is done by having the kitchen crew clean the parts down with a special grease-cutting cleaner as recommended by the department of health or equipment manufacturer. 

Another restaurant maintenance task that can be done weekly is to clean grease filters with either a specialty cleaner or warm soapy water. All of these items need to be inspected and cleaned by a specially trained technician semi-annually to ensure that nothing was left undone. 

In addition to making the restaurant look clean and presentable, keeping up with cleaning grease from vents, hoods, ducts, and other equipment cuts down on the likelihood that you’ll have to deal with pests or potential fire hazards. Pest control, after you have a problem, can be a losing and expensive fight. Keeping control of the restaurant’s maintenance budget by removing attractions to any potential roach and other pests means that keeping grease buildup to a minimum is an integral task for any restaurateur. 

For more tips on training your staff, download the Complete Guide to Restaurant Staff Management.

2. Keep Staff Maintenance Consistent

Keeping staff motivated to always be vigilant about grease build-up is important. This is because it is regularly needed and can be a job that the staff may feel is unnecessary. However, tasks like preventing grease build-up must be done regularly and correctly to keep the health of the restaurant at its best. 

Maintenance checklists help a smart restaurant owner assign tasks and ensure that tasks are being completed according to the schedule set. 

If you have a restaurant maintenance checklist that everyone has access to it can help cut down on incomplete tasks as well as tasks being completed improperly depending upon the amount of detail in the list. This allows all staff to understand the needs of preventive maintenance in the kitchen. 

It’s also important to have a spot on the checklist where employees sign off on the task and have managers check their work before they leave. The double-check makes sure that the task is done right and will help to cut down on unscheduled repairs to equipment, like ovens and fryers, due to neglect. 

3. Educate Staff About Maintenance Needs

The eventual rotation of staff due to absence or turnover can cause a lack of care or awareness of restaurant maintenance tasks. The best way to avoid this and keep your maintenance needs at the forefront of protecting your restaurant’s bottom line is to take the time necessary to educate all staff about the needs of restaurant maintenance. It can seem counterintuitive to spend much time on education, but it is extremely important. 

Educating all of your staff about the needs of things like grease reduction in the kitchen and corresponding areas will allow you to foster a passion for the overall well being of the restaurant. Explaining to staff that cleaning grease from rubber mats, vents, hoods, ducts, and more on a daily basis keeps the company in good financial health allows them to understand the benefit to not only the owners but to their own financial well being. Showing them that grease build-up can lead to fires, breakdowns, and unwanted pests allows them to understand that taking a lackluster approach to side work can cause restaurant closures and unexpected layoffs. 

chefs working on restaurant equipment

4. Maintain Equipment Health

In addition to needing to get rid of grease build-up, there are other ways that the ranges and cooking surfaces need to be maintained. One task that can help to avoid costly professional restaurant maintenance help in addition to cleaning grease filters and traps is to boil out the fryer regularly. 

To boil out the fryer drain, pour all the oil into an approved container and clean any built-up debris out of the drain line. After the drain line has been cleaned out, rinse it with warm water and reclose the line to avoid spills. Fill the fryer with cool water and a deep fat fryer cleaner according to the manufacturer’s directions. This task, while time-consuming, is important to the continued health of the equipment, as are all other maintenance and cleaning tasks. 

Boiling out the fryer will allow you to keep the fryer in high-functioning shape so that it might last longer than the manufacturer’s suggested useful life cycle. This also helps to ensure that your food continues to taste amazing, it saves you from unexpected breakdowns in the middle of service as well. 

5. Use a Maintenance Tracking Software

When you have so many working parts to your restaurant, it can become easy to forget about the many maintenance needs while focusing on food safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. The many weekly, monthly, and other regular needs of restaurant maintenance needs are easy to forget about. A CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) can automate those notifications and help you to schedule work orders for preventive maintenance needs easily. 

These maintenance tracking software programs have sections that are there to add in information about when the last service was completed. They also can help you to see how often the manufacturer recommends maintenance for a particular piece of equipment like the deep fryer example from earlier. These software programs can help you to view the cost of maintenance that has been completed and allow you to see what benefit all your efforts have made to your bottom line. There are many old sayings that suggest prevention is the best form of maintenance. By taking steps to guarantee that you have clean, sanitized, and working equipment in your restaurant you avoid the more costly repairs. Repairs that come with fixing problems that could have been avoided will affect your bottom line way more than a few extra hours of side work a week. 

How can you train and retain your restaurant staff? Learn everything from training to compensation to engagement with this comprehensive guide.

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Written by   |  
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.