Advice

What to look out for when choosing a catering maintenance contract

In a busy kitchen you can’t afford to have faulty equipment. So, keeping things running smoothly is a priority for any business. A catering maintenance contract is designed to provide that peace of mind that if the worst was to happen you could get back up and running. With so many varying levels of cover available these days from Preventative Maintenance to Reactive Maintenance or a mixture of the two choosing the right cover for you and your business can be daunting.

Adam Cattermole, the managing director of Cattermole Group which has been servicing catering equipment in the Midlands for nearly 50 years, runs through the list of things to consider when putting pen to paper and taking up a contract.

“There is no such thing as a standard contract”, says the maintenance expert. “As a business we have over 70 years of experience between us and can confidently say that every kitchen is different so it is essential you get a package which does exactly what you need it to. Don’t leave it to chance and do your homework.”

Your service engineer is a valuable part of the team so just as you would interview any other member of staff make sure that you ask plenty of questions so that you know what you are signing up for.

Find out how the company works and what you will actually be covered for. What happens if something goes wrong and how do they work to try and prevent unscheduled works?

It is important to remember maintenance is a legal requirement for any catering business so there are certain things that must be done to meet government guidelines but there are also plenty of benefits to carrying out additional regular maintenance which can reduce the need for call outs.

When looking at appointing a service or maintenance contract think about:

Qualifications

Make sure that the company you are working with has all the relevant qualifications for the equipment and tasks you need them to undertake. Your insurance is not valid if you do not have regular maintenance carried out by qualified professionals. Is the engineer recommended by or affiliated with your manufacturer as skilled in dealing with the equipment you use? It is also worth checking if they use any contractors, are they qualified? Covered under their insurance? Best to check now rather than later.

Out-of-hours

You can guarantee if something goes wrong it will be at the end of a shift on a Saturday night. Faults rarely seem to just happen 9am to 5pm. What cover do you have for our-of-hours service calls? Do you have a direct line to get support if needed after 5pm? Are you even covered 24 hours a day or will you have to wait until the morning to log the issue and risk having the business closed until someone comes out? What are the costs involved? That bargain service contract might turn into an expensive mistake if you don’t check the small print on out-of-hours call outs.

Parts

Some companies specialise and only stock parts for certain manufacturers. If something needs fixing will you be waiting for parts to be ordered in or do they stock most items as standard?

What is actually covered

Will all your equipment be covered and what exactly will regular maintenance visits include? Get your service provider to breakdown individual responsibilities so it is clear from the offset who is responsible for what.

What happens if something goes wrong

Make sure you and your staff are fully aware on what to do if something goes wrong. Is there a 24-hour helpline? Is the process simple and easy to follow or do you have multiple contacts depending on the issue?

Add ons

Make sure you define the scope of the contract and what happens if there are additional works. Many providers have different levels of cover depending on how many callouts or visits you require. Make sure when you sign up to a specific level you are realistic about the amount of support you need. You don’t want to be paying for something you don’t need but equally if it doesn’t cover what you are looking for and you keep having to add to the contract it can be an expensive addition.

“Maintenance and service engineers are an integral part of your team so chose wisely. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make sure you are working with a company you know and trust.

“Working with a company that knows you and your business inside out makes the whole process seamless – so having one point of contact is always an added bonus.”

If you are still unsure and looking for advice Cattermole Group is more than happy to talk you through what your business might need www.cattermolegroup.co.uk or you can find out more about catering maintenance requirements at the HSE Government website http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/cais12.pdf.

Finally Adam says: “Whatever size or type of catering facility getting the right contract in place will make a big difference to your kitchen’s efficiency and profitability.”


Adam Cattermole is the managing director at Midlands-based catering equipment specialists Cattermole Group. A family firm with over 70 years of experience which specialises in supporting the hospitality industry

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