There are many maintenance tasks that can safely be performed by restaurant owners that would save a substantial amount of money on service calls. Here are some of the things restaurant owners can do to keep service calls to a minimum.
Knowledge of a Technician
You might be surprised to find that many service technicians that routinely charge well over $100 a hour, have only a high school education… or less. I don’t say this to displace anyone’s profession, but yet to inform the general public.
It’s not formal education that helps most technicians stand out from others, but years of experience that makes them experts. The vast majority of technicians learned from other technicians or attended a community college program to attain enough knowledge to work as a technician on restaurant equipment. Some have also attended a specialty course to be able to work with refrigerant (freon), but nonetheless, most learn by doing, and the longer they have been working in the field, the more they know.
Maybe you can do it yourself.
I have no way of knowing how “mechanically inclined” you or your staff may be, but I can tell you from experience that not everyone is. With that said, most of the information you need you already have (or should have) in the form of the manual that came with the equipment. I know it’s a boring read, but you should read through these manuals when you receive any new piece of equipment. Some are just installation guides that will offer almost none of the information you need, but the user’s guide, on the other hand, can have a lot of very useful information – especially when it comes to equipment repair.
Most companies offer an additional manual that may (or may not) come with the equipment, and are full of good information that is useful in maintaining equipment – they are often called a “service manual” or “parts and service manual.” Most of the time you can download a copy free of charge from the manufacturer’s website. This is the most useful manual you can own for the repair of a piece of equipment. It will have a parts breakdown that will show you drawings of every part and how those parts fit together. Often it will have a troubleshooting section that will identify a specific problem and give you possible remedies to fix it.
I know of only two books available on restaurant equipment. These books were written years ago by a guy named Don Walker and are dated, but I still keep a copy of both. He gives great general information that is timeless and does it in a somewhat humorous way. One book covers gas equipment repair and the other one is about electric equipment. If you are going to work on restaurant equipment, I suggest you buy one or both of these books.
The last way to become informed on your specific equipment is by the use of the technical service line almost all manufacturers offer. I list this last because these lines are set up for service personnel, but I can tell you from experience that as an owner or manager you will not be turned away if you call. If it is a good company, the person you speak with will have worked on that piece of equipment before, and will know enough about it to understand what you are trying to explain, even if you don’t know the technical terms to use.
If you call, you will need the model number and serial number along with any other information you can get off the equipment. It is helpful to have a parts breakdown (drawing) of the equipment in front of you, so you can see what the various parts look like and be able to call a part by name. You should also be able to explain to the technician on the other end of the line what the machine is doing (or not doing). You can usually find an 800 number for tech service on the manual or by using the contact us section of the company’s website.