7 Tips for Extending the Life of Your Assets

It's 12:30am. The line cook working the range stares at a collection of grease residue accumulating in the corners near an open-flame burner. It’s been a long shift, he is exhausted, and he knows he should clean all grease off all cook surfaces, but he clocks out instead and leaves it for the next day. He does this nightly for about a month and forgets about the grease pile – until a fire breaks out at his station at 11:30 am on a Saturday lunch rush. If the hood’s fire suppression system does as it should, and the flame is extinguished in short order. Unfortunately, the proceeds of the remainder of the weekend sales are extinguished along with the fire. Even with a team of first responders to clean-up the effects of this flame-up, it will likely be Monday, at the earliest, before the fire department, the health department, and possibly the building department will return a certificate of occupancy as needed for the resumed operation of the restaurant. Add this to the cost of product loss due to normal rotation AND the loss of wages for the crews who will not be there to serve guests for the remainder of the weekend, and this has become a tragic, traumatic, and very costly experience. Of course, this incident can become far worse if the flames are not adequately and timely extinguished, and with far more detrimental consequences. The accumulated grease pile in the corner which formed as a result of poor housekeeping just cost the restaurant and its operators many thousands of dollars in direct and indirect costs.

While we hope this type of scenario hasn’t happened on your watch lately – it’s the type of call we get all too often as general contractors. The importance of good housekeeping at a restaurant isn’t just about fire prevention. It’s about maintaining the life of your assets – investments your company makes in large-scale equipment. Poor housekeeping practices often lead to expensive equipment repairs or replacement – usually before the lifecycle of the equipment has run its course due to regular use in the restaurant.

During the busiest seasons, it’s easy to get lax on routine maintenance and cleanliness. A little “refresh” never hurts! The life span of your equipment could depend on it. Check out these seven tips for extending the lifecycle of your assets.

1. Conduct regular checks of your water treatment system and/or audit the records of your supplier who maintains the water system quality; especially if the system feeds your coolers and chillers.
a. Frequent test reports give quality feedback on some of your most expensive investments.

2. Give that quarry tile a real good scrub. Everyday.
a. Residue build up over time can result in costly grout repairs. Not to mention slip and falls.

3. Consider your plumbing system an asset. Remind crew members that drains are for liquids only.
a. You wouldn’t believe the stuff we’ve pulled out of drains – cork screws, small tools, silverware. Save yourself some serious hassle and expensive plumbing bills. Liquids only.

4. Stop ignoring the grease splatter on walls, hoods, and cook surfaces.
a. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, almost 25% of restaurant fires start because of crew members failure to clean properly. Fires account for $168 million in losses in restaurants every year. It's way less expensive to  coach your people to clean diligently.

5. Retrain crew on procedures for a small fire in the restaurant.
a. If you do have a fire, equipment damage can be mitigated if employees have the knowledge to take swift, appropriate action.

6. Ensure hoods and Fire Suppression Systems are inspected and re-certified as required.
a. Fires often start because safety features on cook lines are broken.

7. Watch out for excess water on equipment.
a. Frequent cleaning is great – but too much water can cause corrosion or, worse yet, cause critical failure of sensitive electronic components of your equipment. Avoid hoses and pressure washers in the back of the house - would you hose down your kitchen floor at home?

IF THESE TIPS RESONATE WITH YOU, AND YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR OPERATORS WOULD BENEFIT FROM THE REMINDER, PLEASE SHARE WITH YOUR TEAM AS YOU SEE FIT. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTNER WITH A FACILITIES CONTRACTOR WHO GENUINELY WANTS TO HELP MAXIMIZE YOUR FACILITY BUDGET, PLEASE CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW.

(Footnote: nfpa.org)

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