First-time fix rates have become a badge of honour for catering equipment service providers. Understandably, providers are proud of their ability to get the job done quickly, and correctly, the first time and so it has become a key marketing tool in its own right.
But with no regulations to govern such figures, there is nothing to stop providers from exaggerating their first-time fix rates to appear more endearing to prospective customers. How much of a problem is this for the industry?
“It is definitely a concern for professional providers of catering equipment maintenance,” says Graham Skinner at Serviceline. “However, operators are advised to check with their peers as to which company provides the best level of customer support in terms of first-time fix of their equipment. Operators know from experience who offers a good service.”
That stance is echoed by others in the market, who claim that companies inflating their first-time fix rates will inevitably be sniffed out. Some national accounts and large chains, in particular, implement detailed reporting systems for their outlet managers — sometimes via facilities management companies — which, once collated, can quickly identify issues with service, technical expertise and first-time fix results.
“The industry relies on the service provider to be trusted in the delivery of service,” agrees Nationwide Catering Engineers’ Mark Reid. “Any provider exaggerating this will very quickly be highlighted by their customers due to feedback from site,” he says.
Peter Baulch at Gratte has worked in the industry for many years, but he is confident that most serious companies would not betray their profession. “There is always the chance any data can be exaggerated, I don’t believe it is a concern and I have no evidence to suggest this does happen,” he says.
Neill Pearson at Jestic says that a first-time fix rate can only be used as a comparison if the service provider publishes an accurate rate. “Some use a response time as a unit of measurement and comparison, however in our opinion this can be misleading for the customer. Any service provider can claim to respond to an issue within four to six hours, but if they are not carrying the necessary spares or the engineer has not undergone sufficient training, the underlying issue may not be resolved,” he comments.
Ultimately, says Darryl Pannell at Advance Group, operators should be benefitting from the level of technology now available to the catering equipment service industry. This should offer a higher degree of transparency than ever before.
“It is this transparency which reduces the opportunity for exaggeration,” he says, adding that its own customers take great comfort and confidence from the IntEquip system it uses. “Operators should not be waiting until their equipment breaks down before reacting. We know from experience that they want the right information at the right point, to allow them to make informed, planned decisions. comes into its own.”