KEY POINTS:
* Conducting regular preventative maintenance on your equipment makes sound business sense
* The rising cost of refrigerant gas means regassing is now far more expensive than in the past
* Maintenance inspections by qualified service technicians can protect you against the much higher cost of repairs
* Preventative maintenance is like servicing your car: do it regularly and you’ll minimise the risk of breakdowns

KEEPING A TIGHT REIN on costs is essential to ensuring the ongoing profitability of your foodservice business.
In previous articles we’ve covered the importance of paying particular attention to your ‘big ticket’ operating costs — like ensuring you have negotiated a good rent deal (ideally less than 10 per cent of your turnover).
We’ve also emphasised the importance of choosing quality ingredients, explaining how they can deliver superior yield which will improve your cost per serve.
It’s also important to consider your overall energy efficiency - for example, whether a move from gas to electricity might provide more accurate energy output and less wastage.
Another often-overlooked initiative which can keep your costs down is to conduct regular preventative maintenance on your equipment, such as your oven and refrigeration units.
For example, in recent years the cost of refrigerant gas has increased dramatically, which means regassing is now far more expensive than in the past.
Even if your refrigeration system is relatively small — such as a drinks cabinet, small coolroom and freezer room — the refrigerant system needs to be charged with these gases.
These systems often have what are called screwed or flare connections, which can work themselves loose over time. What that happens the system loses the gas charge, which means a maintenance call to the service technician who might tighten the connection, recharge the appliance and charge you for the service call.
But with some smart preventative maintenance, you can reduce the likelihood of this happening.
Ideally you should schedule regular maintenance inspections by qualified service technicians on all your major equipment including refrigeration units, ovens and vent canopies.
This is a relatively small cost and a worthwhile investment that can save you the much higher cost of repair work due to deterioration of equipment. In the case of refrigeration units, maintenance technicians will tighten all your screw connections on a regular basis, or may even recommend replacing them with soldered connections which will last longer.
Preventative maintenance should be conducted every four to six months — it’s just like servicing your car: by ensuring it’s done regularly, you’ll maximise the potential life of the equipment.
And of course, if you’re in the position to purchase new equipment, you should look at the latest innovations in refrigeration units and ovens which can further reduce your costs by providing greater operating efficiency.
The challenge for all foodservice operators is to maintain business viability while often operating on relatively low margins. For this reason, it’s essential to keep your costs down, so regular maintenance to reduce the likelihood of high repair costs makes sound business sense.
Maintenance costs
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