To Service or Not to Service — How Often Are You Asking That Question?

Deciding to make a service call isn’t always an easy decision. Your kitchen, or at least part of it, may be out of commission for a period of time. And if a unit is out of warranty, the repair may cost more than you anticipate. Despite the potential drawbacks, taking action and calling a service company can save you time and money in the long run.

When to Make a Service Call

The ideal time to place a service call is before a unit breaks. When you notice that a unit is starting to malfunction or have reoccurring problems, schedule a time for a service tech to examine the equipment. A service call now can save you time, money and unhappy customers down the road — not to mention avoiding further damage to the equipment.

While shutting down service for any amount of time is not ideal, working around a unit that is malfunctioning can cost you. For instance, a kitchen owner had a convection range that was experiencing temperature problems for months. As many busy kitchens do, they worked around the unit to avoid downtime for servicing. The unit’s performance worsened, and it had to be fixed immediately. This was a costly repair, as the emergency servicing had to be performed after hours. Plus, there were additional parts needed as a result of waiting to repair it.

The Benefits of Being Proactive

For owner/operators who are proactive, the return on taking action can be huge. Continuing to use a piece of equipment that is malfunctioning can potentially cause more damage to the unit and surrounding parts, which may mean more downtime and an increased repair cost.

You don’t have to be a service tech to realize that your equipment is beginning to malfunction, as it can be as simple as listening to it. For example, a restaurant owner with a flight-type dishwasher heard a loud grinding or humming coming from the motor. He knew this wasn’t normal, so he placed a call to a service tech who inspected the unit and informed the owner that the impeller was loose. The tech replaced the impeller, and the dishwasher was ready to go. 

If this owner had waited or ignored the issue, more parts, such as the motor, may have had to be replaced and his operation may have been down for a few days, hurting his business. Simply by being proactive, the owner saved himself a lot of time, money and headache.

Service that Meets Your Restaurant’s Needs

Conducting regular maintenance in-house and purchasing a maintenance package with a service company can extend the life of your equipment. Restaurant owners who have a regular maintenance package reap big savings in downtime and money. 

For smaller operations, a quarterly checkup may be all it takes, but for larger operations that run 20+ hours a day, a service tech may need to come out every other month. With units that cost tens of thousands to even hundreds of thousands of dollars, paying for a service technician’s visit is nominal to protect your investment. For example, an oven found to have a faulty thermostat would be quickly diagnosed by a tech, and the tech would replace the thermostat and re-calibrate it during a regular visit.

The Value of Service Techs

A service plan can be a great investment, as the tech will work with you to provide proactive tips to keep your units running properly, assess potential issues, and fix problems them before they become bigger headaches. The tech will also share why an issue occurred and how to minimize the cost or reduce the number of service calls moving forward.

Take a combi-oven with a self-cleaning system. Some may operate a combi-oven while knowing that the cleaning cycle is not working properly or simply without knowing how to properly utilize the self-clean function. Lack of proper cleaning procedures or knowledge on how it works can cause damage to a fan motor seal and ultimately the fan motor itself. In this case, running the unit may result in more downtime and lost revenue.

In addition to the repairs at hand, a tech can also detect issues before they become larger problems and can provide valuable information to staff, such as:

  • Proper cleaning methods
  • Tips for recognizing potential future issues
  • Insight on when to call a service tech

Service for Today’s Foodservice Industry

The industry is operating in an omni-channel environment, and this can impact service as well. New programs have made identifying the appropriate parts for foodservice equipment easier, more efficient and accurate. These features can include diagnostic tools built into the machines or advanced aftermarket sensors that “communicate” with the equipment. Parts distributors may also offer ways to optimize the repair process, such as mobile apps that offer enhanced images of parts and customized catalogs for easy identification from anywhere.

Used together, these updated technologies enhance the efficiency of repairs and the accuracy of the part identification process, providing a more seamless repair process. Most importantly, these programs can significantly curtail equipment downtime, ensuring minimal disruptions to your operation.

For restaurant owners, small and large, being proactive about equipment, taking the time to have units serviced and investing in a service plan can help minimize downtime and save valuable resources both now and in the future. Be proactive — find a list of items to check around your kitchen on