Restaurant operators that are postponing service visits and planned preventative maintenance (PPM) calls are playing a risky game that could create serious problems for the industry in the coming months.
That’s according to the Foodservice Equipment Association, which has warned that operators thinking of delaying crucial kitchen maintenance work are potentially putting customers and staff at risk.
The easing of lockdown has led to foodservice operators working hard to try to make up for lost time. But with busy, stretched kitchens to manage, there are fears that planned maintenance calls are being put off because there is not time to fit them in.
Meanwhile, the FEA said that some operators have deferred service calls by engineers to avoid having external visitors into the kitchen, while “a few” were seeking short-term cash flow advantages.
Malcolm Skinner, chair of FEA’s Service Providers Group, said the organisation was calling for common sense to prevail.
He insists that any delay in servicing appliances is not only potentially dangerous and costly, it will also create a backlog that will itself create further delays as service providers struggle to catch up.
“The issue is especially worrying with gas equipment. PPM helps ensure compliance and it’s the operator’s legal responsibility to keep staff and customers safe. Plus, a timely service check can save a huge amount of money – especially if the delay leads to equipment failure and the need to replace it.”
Mr Skinner said that any operator which has delayed a PPM visit should contact their service provider as quickly as possible to rearrange.
If they need to find a new service company, then they can always look for one that is recognised by a third party, such as the FEA Accredited Service Provider Scheme, he added.
“If the delays to PPM mount up too much, service providers simply won’t have the capacity to reschedule all the missed visits, once operators come to their senses.
“We need to keep equipment working safely and efficiently – and that means keeping up with the servicing, too. Delays to PPM are a short-sighted solution that could be disastrous.”