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Five Tips to Keep Clients’ Kitchens Running Smoothly

Restaurant manager with staff

Today’s kitchen equipment is often multi-functional and computerized, making uptime more important than ever. Here are five tips you, as a service technician, can use when installing and maintaining new equipment to help your clients make the most of their new investment:

Understand the warranty.

The warranty may be voided if the equipment is not installed by an authorized service agent. Later, service technicians’ decisions often determine whether manufacturers honor or void equipment warranties. For example, warranties typically specify that only authorized service technicians perform repairs and that they use only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts.

As a service technician, you need to know what your client’s warranty includes. What parts and problems are covered? What’s excluded? Will product modifications or unauthorized uses void the warranty?

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Train kitchen staff to use any new equipment.

Kitchen equipment is increasingly complex. After installing new equipment, ensure your client understands how to use it so they get the most from its features. Tell them about the most likely malfunctions and how to spot them, and leave a sticker or magnet on the device with your phone number. Training kitchen staff to notice and report malfunctioning equipment early, before it becomes a major problem, helps your clients reduce downtime and save money on repairs, and helps you build a loyal client base.

Be sure to point out replaceable parts and consumables like filters and cleaning solutions as keeping these replenished ensures correct operation (and provides a good upsell opportunity).

Pots and pans on a commercial stove.

Be on the lookout for upsell opportunities

Most service companies offer preventative maintenance contracts and other helpful products that can speed up the repair time when something breaks in the commercial kitchen. Always be on the lookout for opportunities to discuss these options with the customer and pass on any leads to your manager or sales team so they can follow up.

Upselling benefits the company by increasing revenue, and it benefits the customer by giving them peace of mind in their kitchen. The cost of critical equipment downtime is often far higher than the cost of a service agreement. While working as a salesperson is not always easy, there are books that can teach you almost everything you need to know about basic customer relationship management and sales.

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If you are a small business owner or freelancer, then you need to put even more effort into identifying these opportunities. If sales are not in your blood, check with your local community college for training schedules or visit one of the many online sales academies offering curriculum specific to our market.

Establish regular maintenance schedules.

Even properly installed equipment and components sometimes fail. To minimize that risk, create a regular maintenance schedule for your client.  Set regular times to perform specific maintenance tasks. For example, kitchen staff should clean the fryer and its cabinet daily and perform a deep cleaning every three to six months, and you should inspect the hidden components of the fryer annually.

Obviously, the maintenance and service schedule varies by type of equipment and manufacturers’ instructions. Establishing a schedule for maintenance and service helps commercial kitchen equipment operate at peak efficiency.

Use only OEM parts for warranty repairs.

Technician repairing commercial fridge.

While equipment is under warranty, the use of OEM (original) parts is stipulated by the manufacturer. Relying on them ensures the machine will function just like it did before it needed repair. Because the manufacturer’s reputation depends on those parts, they come with an assumption of quality.

Add temperature sensors to freezers and refrigerators.

These sensors warn of impending failures. Don’t risk food spoilage because no one noticed a compressor failure, blown fuse, or unplugged cord. Although many refrigerators and freezers now include temperature gauges, it’s a good idea to add a separate temperature sensor that sends alerts when temperatures fluctuate beyond specified parameters.

As an authorized service technician, you are an integral part of efficient commercial kitchens. Use these tips to further enhance your value.

Gail Dutton is a veteran journalist specializing in the intersection of technology and business. She is based in the Pacific Northwest.