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Top Ways You Can Budget For Restaurant Maintenance


by Warren Wu of UpKeep

While opening and running a restaurant can be one of the most rewarding jobs today, a critical appliance failure can lead it to be one of the most stressful as well. It happens almost randomly, turning a possibly record-profit day into one of the hardest losses your business can sustain. Having a proper budget for restaurant maintenance set up can make or break your restaurant ownership experience.

Let’s look at the top ways you can prepare for your restaurant’s continued success and survive the tragedy of equipment failure.

Have a savings fund.

The first step on our list is also the most common budget strategy. After every part of your monthly revenue is paid out to paychecks, bills, etc, you should then move a portion of that leftover money into a savings fund. You then are set knowing that if an appliance needs to be fixed, you have that money set aside and aren’t scrambling for the cash.

How much to save depends on your confidence and income, but you should always remember that a savings fund is your last line of defense. A majority of breakdowns happen at random, but with proper inspection and preparedness, your savings fund will act as a perfect buffer to keep you from a financial crisis.

Start a Preventative Maintenance Schedule.

A preventative maintenance schedule is the next step for many restaurant owners. Determining which high value equipment would benefit from preventative maintenance is critical to saving money on your restaurant’s bottom line. Create a ranked list of your appliances from most important to least. Then determine which assets are most likely to fail without a regular check-up. Remember that not all preventative maintenance is more cost effective than reactive maintenance.

With that list, you can now determine which appliances to add to your preventative maintenance schedule. Maintenance will make sure your valuable tools are in top working order and often will spot potential problems before they get out of hand. This maintenance could be scheduled on the same day, or on separate days that are staggered throughout the month. A checklist makes it easy to track each appliance’s life cycle and is a vital part of tracking each maintenance session.

Make sure you include the following in your preventative maintenance checklist:

  • Clear spaces to indicate whether or not the step was completed (e.g. Checkboxes)
  • Clear and concise instructions for each task
  • Whether the step passed or failed maintenance standards
  • Suggested actions to correct a potential issue

Once maintenance has been performed, you can start analyzing any possible issues that might have been noted. Now you can choose to fix it immediately or when it’s closer to failure. Take that decision and choose whether to dip into your savings fund or start a new budget specifically for that piece of equipment.

Use a CMMS system.

A Computerized Maintenance Management System, commonly abbreviated to CMMS, can help you build a preventative maintenance schedule with ease. From keeping track of your work orders to maintenance schedules, a CMMS is the most popular solution for tracking the technical sides of your restaurant. With a CMMS, you can not only track your complete maintenance history of all your equipment but also your levels of inventory too.

Applying the data learned from your CMMS to your budgeting can dramatically increase your efficiency when setting up maintenance rotations and select your highest priorities when allocating time and funds.

Review and Forecast your Budget monthly.

As an owner, you should take the time to review your income and spending at least once a month. Armed with that information, fine-tuning your budget as needed for maintaining high-usage appliances becomes second nature. Track any trends that you notice in your kitchen. If a certain product becomes more popular, maintaining the appliances used to make it should start to take higher precedence.

On the other hand, if you start to notice that repairs on an appliance are starting to increase regularly, it may be time to replace it for a newer model entirely. Repeated maintenance costs can sometimes outweigh the price of replacement. Consult your maintenance schedule and your CMMS to determine the total cost forecast of repairing versus purchasing of a new appliance.

These are just several ways you can optimize your budget period to take the stress away from your operational maintenance. Now it is up to you which to select as your next steps to your success. Remember that you can’t always predict what life brings next. Keeping a flexible budget is the best way to protect yourself, whether it be from a critical piece of high-use equipment failing during the lunch rush, to having to emergency hire a few more staff for a busy period.


Warren Wu leads growth at UpKeep, a software company that was designed to make life easier for facilities and asset management departments and to empower maintenance teams to make better decisions from data-driven insights.