Due diligence warning for operators over kitchen maintenance

Service engineer

Foodservice chains seeking to enter into comprehensive catering equipment service agreements are being urged to scrutinise the credibility of prospective providers to ensure they receive the correct level and type of support when it most matters.

Experts insist it is vital for operators to obtain evidence that a service provider can deliver what it says it can. Accreditation and the standing of the company in the industry are important, and will likely have a bearing on which provider to go with.

A reliable provider of planned preventative maintenance (PPM) services should be able to demonstrate they have the expertise and values that will lead to you receiving exactly what the contract promises. Chris Craggs, managing director of McFarlane Telfer, one of the leading catering equipment and service providers in the UK, says operators should not be afraid of being thorough in their due diligence.

“Certificates are one thing — what evidence do you see of them being used? Most importantly, visit the operation, don’t just rely on paper submissions which might have been concocted in a back bedroom,” he says.

Steve Elliott, managing director of Stevenage-based kitchen maintenance specialist Serviceline, says it is important to recognise that kitchen equipment is becoming ever more technical and sophisticated.

“Chains need to ensure that prospective service and maintenance suppliers have the skills to affect a safe and efficient service. Some dishwashers, for example, feature the use of refrigerant gas as part of the heat exchanger system, requiring engineers working on these products to be F-Gas certified, as well as qualified and trained on dishwashers. And gas combination ovens now feature construction that requires qualification in all four competencies: plumbing, gas, electrical and electronics.”

Mitchells & Butlers, the UK’s largest pub operator, is one company that is investing in putting the right service procedures in place. Recently the company became one of the first groups to sign up to ‘Prosurance’, a professional service plan conceived by Hobart that replaces parts before they wear out.

The programme offers an enhanced level of care for operators by providing preventative rather than reactive maintenance to ensure kitchen downtime is reduced as much as possible.

Mitchells & Butlers has initially committed to using the service at 150 of its outlets. John McCleary, head of building maintenance at Mitchells & Butlers, comments: “Having Prosurance means we have seen a significant reduction in equipment downtime with a 24% decline in breakdown call-out time and a corresponding reduction in maintenance costs.”

Look out for our special feature on ‘The top 10 PPM questions you need to ask’ in the May issue of FEJ and available on www.foodserviceequipmentjournal.com soon.

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