Consider all your restaurant or cafe expenses and overheads. Wages, rent, electricity, gas. Food, kitchen equipment, aprons, work uniforms, table cloths, tea towels, POS…

The list goes on and on, ad infinitum.

Now consider this: among these constant expenditures that your business has to cover, how much do you spend on repair and maintenance?

An American study on the 2 million-plus multi-site US businesses that need repair and maintenance work revealed that they spend US$100 billion annually. What’s worse is that $20 billion of that is unnecessary. That’s 20% of the total spend down the drain, wasted.

We’re not aware of any such study in Australia, but we imagine that Australian eateries must spend a proportionally similar amount to their US counterparts. Wouldn’t you like to get back your share of all that wasted money?

Well of course, but how?

The goal is to optimise repair and maintenance efficiency without sacrificing quality of service and customer experience. For your restaurant(s), this is important – all of your services rely heavily on your equipment, after all.

This is good for your restaurant – the less money you spend on repair and maintenance costs, the more you can invest in upgrading the quality of your food and services, improving customer experience, and ultimately, growing your business.

Here are a few strategies you can use to get back that wasted repair and maintenance spend.

Regularly Check Your Commercial Kitchen Equipment

Standard business equipment and décor such as light fixtures, floors, ceilings, and HVAC units require repair and maintenance, some more often than the others.

However, the more important equipment to check is the vital commercial kitchen equipment. Every experienced restauranteur knows that walk-in freezers, refrigerators, and ovens must be consistently maintained to be fully functional.

Track the status, warranty, and work history of each asset you have in the restaurant accurately, especially the refrigerators. For example, if one of your fridges leaks, inspect the historical repair information and make a decision based on your findings. If you have had to get that fridge repaired for the fifth time in three years, it’s time to replace that fridge. Maybe choose a more reliable brand?

Prevention is Better Than Cure

Cars have this thing called “PMS”, or a preventive maintenance schedule, where regular work is done, such as changing the oil, checking the brake pads, wheel alignment, etc. Miss one of these and your car might break down at the most inopportune of moments.

The same goes for your restaurant’s equipment – preventive maintenance is done to deal with issues that may be building up before they break down. It’s simply more cost-effective to perform preventive maintenance than to pay for full equipment repair or replacements when the worst happens.

Avoid hassling your customers by scheduling your preventive maintenance checks outside of your peak trading hours. If you plan on getting your air conditioning checked, do it during the cold season, when it’s not really being used.

Utilise Facility Management Analytics

With all the complex assets you have to deal with, facility management analytics is more important for restaurants than most other business types.

You can use facility management analytics to analyse your spend data. Armed with that data, you can forecast trends, create goals in advance, and determine future facility management spend. You can also tell how much you are spending unnecessarily for repair and maintenance.

Develop cost-saving strategies with the help of a facility management analytics tool. Check out which service providers may be able to give you more bang for your buck, determine the best possible PMS, and switch out inefficient, money-draining assets for more efficient ones.

Contractor Invoicing Processes Can be Automated

Time is money. Yes, that’s a cliché, but it doesn’t take away from the truth that time is very valuable, whether it’s yours or someone else’s.

Many restaurants manually do the invoicing for repair and maintenance work. It’s incredibly inefficient and vulnerable to human error. The processing costs may be higher, too.

Automate your invoicing processes to further reduce your facility management spend. Invoices can be automatically grouped, scheduled, and sent directly to service providers. This then reduces possible accounting issues, processing costs and ultimately, improves efficiency.

Choose More Sustainable Equipment

Most modern appliances use technology that is focused on improving their efficiency and reducing their energy consumption without affecting performance. Modern refrigerators and air conditioners use various inverter types to cool more air for much less, while LED light bulbs are now almost ubiquitous… Generally, the endless quest for energy efficiency is pretty much the norm.

Here are some tips to help your restaurant become more cost-effective with its energy use.

1. Use energy-efficient lighting – LED bulbs and fluorescent tubes provide the same amount of light compared to compact fluorescent and halogen bulbs for much less power.
2. Don’t need lights yet? Keep them off – Try intelligent lighting that turns off when its area doesn’t need artificial lighting.
3. Turn down the thermostat – Turning your thermostat down a degree or two makes a huge difference in energy costs over time.
4. Use a wood-burning stove or oven – Electronic and gas stoves use a lot of energy, especially when it’s cold. The classic wood-burning oven not only gives your restaurant a more rustic feel perfect for pizzas and slow-cooking meats, it saves a lot of power (although the wood smoke is a pollutant).
5. Drinks don’t need to be frozen – Set your refrigerator at a temperature that only cools drinks to the optimal drinking temperature, instead of freezing them.
6. Update your fridges – New refrigerator cooling technology is far more cost-effective and efficient than older models. Maintain them well and they will save you money in the long run
7. Invest in an efficient HVAC system – your refrigerator has a fancy inverter thing that you probably don’t really understand. You just know it’s efficient and costs less to run than the old one. That same cash-saving inverter technology is also used in modern air conditioners.

Invest in Cheaper More Effective Options

Repair and maintenance costs can be high, but they can generally be covered. But when things inevitably break down, replacing your equipment is a significant capital expense that you may not be able to afford.

Which is why many businesses choose to lease their equipment and avoid the large capital outlay and associated business risk.

The same goes for your food and beverage linen. Why buy when you can rent?

Alsco’s Managed Linen Rental Service is the cost-effective alternative to buying. We eliminate the need for large cash purchases and keep all your linen and work uniforms, from table linen and tea towels to aprons and glass wipes, maintained and up-to-date. All starting from just $1 a day.

We provide regular deliveries as well as emergency, on-demand servicing.

Because we know that when you need a hand, you need it fast. It’s just the nature of your industry.

Contact us today for a fast obligation-free quote tailored to your needs. It’s the easiest decision you’ll probably make all day!