As consumers gear up for the busy holiday season, sales tend to decline for many restaurants. While traditional restaurants struggle to fit into consumers’ schedules during this time, quick-serve and fast-food restaurants offer an easy way to keep hunger at bay while consumers are increasingly on the go, racing to complete holiday errands.

For limited-service locations, speed of service and consistency of the experience is the gift that keeps on giving throughout the holiday season and even into the New Year. Preparation is key to ensuring that facilities and equipment are running efficiently and that these locations continue to operate optimally. Opportunity awaits those who take the right steps now.

Invest some time now

To make the most of this opportunity, invest some time now with your facilities manager to confirm your scheduled maintenance program is up-to-date and on track to stay up-to-date in 2019. Avoid unpleasant surprises, not to mention lost revenue, by reviewing the data, specifically asking for the KPIs that summarize scheduled maintenance compliance. In other words, what percentage of your store assets have “had their flu shots” and been maintained according to preventive recommendations?

Get up-to-speed, as well, on the facilities manager’s big-picture approach to scheduled maintenance. Does every refrigeration unit get the same services once a year? Or does the facilities manager take into account the asset age, asset type, geography and service history to develop customized frequencies and scopes of service based on a predictive analysis? This customized approach can not only cost less, because it ends unnecessary visits by a technician, but also offers better protection and reduced risk to your store operations. It delivers the right service at the right time.

Right service at the right time: what it looks like

For example, a facilities manager may plan for the same HVAC services each spring at all sites, typically because that’s simple and straightforward. Sites in urban locations, however, require more frequent filter changes and at least one annual chemical coil clean. Sites near the ocean require additional maintenance of both sets of coils, while units subject to a heavy equipment load may also require frequent service. On the other hand, only minimal service—or no service at all—may be appropriate in some cases. Landlord agreements and warranty terms should also be managed as part of a scheduled maintenance program.

You’ll also want to ask the facilities manager for an ROI on the current cost of installing a monitoring system enabled by Internet of things (IoT) technology. These systems include sensors that capture assets’ real-time data, such as pressure readings or temperatures, for display on a dashboard or in reporting. Easy access to this information supports better predictive analysis and more efficient scheduling of service technicians.

The facility manager’s role: holistic and strategic

By establishing a trusted relationship with the facility manager, executives can focus on customer experience and business growth. They know they can rely on their facility expert to strategically minimize the asset failures that occur and bring urgency and expertise to those that do. Looking at it from the store manager’s perspective, every minute they don’t spend managing facilities is a minute they can’t spend working with staff, engaging with diners or growing the business.

Because so much depends on a restaurant’s ability to build its business, both startups and established companies may enter into an agreement with a facilities management partner. One such partner recently arranged the following preventative maintenance plan for a major retailer during the holidays:

  • No intrusive scheduled maintenance is performed during the fourth quarter
  • Scheduled maintenance is timed to trigger repairs outside the fourth quarter
  • The partner’s account manager helps the retailer budget for its entire maintenance and repair spend across three quarters
  • To support involvement in budgeting and other decision-making, the partner holistically manages work done by all types of tradespersons                                                                                                                                                               

Working with a facilities manager, of course, can have other benefits and one of the most important of these is cost management. Electricians, HVAC technicians and other service providers will often lower their rates to do business with a large facilities management company. They also understand their invoices will be subject to careful review, by experts, for unnecessary services and excess labor hours.

Celebrate customer experience

If equipment isn’t running properly, restaurants run the risk of losing clientele in the moment—and in the future. Frazzled parents, who’ve just endured hours at the mall with other last-minute shoppers, will gratefully pull into drive thrus for dinner. If any of their favorite quick-serve restaurants are closed because they can’t keep their stored food cold or their fryers hot, holiday stress will supersize an unhappy consumer’s reaction. They may never come back.

Avoid that by working with a facility manager to learn more about preventive maintenance, improve customer experience and make the holidays—as well as the rest of the year—a lot happier.

Roderick Watts graduated from McKim Technical Institute in Ohio after determining that engineering and college were not his cup of tea. He pursued a path of entrepreneurship early in his career leveraging his strong technical skills and facilities expertise to start, grow and sell numerous businesses including HVAC and facilities management service companies. Rick has been a key leader at Vixxo for the past 13 years where he works closely with operations teams and clients to optimize facilities programs and promote new technologies for energy conservation. Rick is a member of ACCA, RSES, RETA, Life member of ASHRAE, IIAR, Association of Energy Engineers, Certified Energy Manager(AEE), Certified Energy Auditor(AEE), Building Energy Assessment Professional(ASHRAE). Hobbies include family, flying his airplane and photography.
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