While catering to customer needs and achieving financial goals may be a restaurateur's primary concern, it's important to remember that neither will be possible without a solid equipment maintenance and service plan in place.
In any foodservice operation, there is at least one piece of equipment that is absolutely crucial to the business. You'd be in a world of hurt if that particular piece was out of commission. To avoid this situation, there are several things you should keep in mind:
First and foremost, using original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts when maintaining and repairing foodservice equipment is critical. Not only are the performance and the longevity of the part better with genuine OEM; those in the know will tell you that parts that have been quality assured by the original manufacturer simply work better in their respective pieces of equipment. Because your equipment is essentially engineered around its working parts, it's optimal to use these parts when repairing or maintaining your equipment.
Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining and servicing equipment, especially if you have more than one location. It's not unusual for restaurants to have expertly coordinated supply chains handling food distribution operations. Why not have an established and enforced plan in place for replacement parts and equipment supplies? Owners should work with a parts distribution partner that offers customized solutions that are easily implemented across locations, such as individualized parts catalogs and web- sites. You'll also want to be sure that you find a partner who proactively and consistently stocks the parts its customers need most often and is speedy and reliable with shipping. When your staff doesn't have to waste time searching (or overpaying) for a replacement part or repair, you'll see your bottom line improve.
We live in an Internet age, but that doesn't mean all of your employees feel comfortable searching the Web for replacement parts and equipment supplies. Look for a company that not only has a fully functioning website where you can purchase parts, but an expert customer service department that will take orders via phone and fax. Make sure your chosen parts supplier offers fast, intuitive and comprehensive search capabilities on its site.
Even with an established parts program and a supplier partner in place, it's advisable to have a replacement part “emergency kit” handy. This kit can include parts needed for your most crucial equipment. A knowledgeable parts company may even be able to tell you which parts most often need replacing in certain pieces of equipment. Look for a parts company whose website offers access to online equipment manuals. These serve primarily as equipment diagrams and can help you identify the parts needed for your equipment. By printing these out and keeping them with your replacement parts and equipment supplies, you can easily identify parts that are unfamiliar and not in your emergency-part-replacement kit.
Implementing a plan for your replacement parts and accessory needs is an often-neglected way for restaurateurs to save money, time and stress. Partnering with a customer-oriented supplier is essential in making a smooth transition to an individualized parts plan. The foodservice business is a hectic one with unexpected obstacles around every corner. With a well-thought-out parts program, you'll have one fewer on your plate.
Steve Snower is president of Parts Town, a leading supplier of foodservice equipment replacement parts and accessory products. For more information please visit www.partstown.com.