How To Lower Maintenance Costs With LineCheck

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What is the most common reason for unnecessary maintenance costs? In over a decade of working with multi-location retail and restaurant chains, I have learned that most companies waste money in their maintenance budget because someone is not doing what they are supposed to do.

Let’s take a look at examples before we get into ways to proactively solve this problem.

Scenarios

Plagued By Tongs

Situation: A busy cook is keeping up with the dinner rush. There is a high volume of tickets coming in and one hand is constantly holding a pair of tongs. Does the staff member…

A) Put down the tongs before opening the cooler door B) Use the tongs as a lever to pry open the cooler door, tearing the gasket in the process

Fryer Woes

Situation: It’s the end of the night and the filters don’t look that bad. The paper checklist states, “drain the oil and change the filters”, but the GM is not working tonight. Does the staff…

A) Do the right thing even though no one is watching, changing the filters and draining the oil B) Drain the oil, but not change the filters

No Self Maintenance

Situation: There is a list of items that need to be done every week because they are easy to do. Things like “change light bulbs, replace cooler filters, use drain cleaner, and check temperatures.” Does the staff… A) Perform the self maintenance B) Wait until breakdowns happen and place an emergency service request

You get the point. You may be wishing you had a better system for managing this type of stuff. But how do you hold people accountable and drive the behavior you know needs to occur for your restaurant to run at it’s peak?

Solutions

When we built our first application, FM Dashboard, we wanted to give facilities managers a better tool for tracking maintenance data to make better decisions. We still believe facilities managers must have a system like this in place.

We also learned from our customers that they needed a way to be even more proactive. How can we keep unnecessary maintenance problems from happening in the first place? This is why we built LineCheck.

Let’s take a look at our solution applied to the three scenarios above.

Let Me See That Tong

Sorry, I had to do it. Instead of finding out the coils are iced over when the cooler stops temping, there is now a simple checklist created with LineCheck, due each day at 10am. It asks, “Are the gaskets in good shape?” a yes or no question. Additionally, a photo is required to be taken of the gaskets. Since the app does not allow photo uploads, only a new photo can be taken for each cooler. No faking it.

Since the staff knows they are being held accountable, they think twice before sticking their tongs in the cooler door.

Set Fryer Expectations

Instead of skipping maintenance, a fryer cleaning checklist is created. It’s due at 11pm every evening. Again, photo evidence is required of each fryer vat. When this system went into place, the kitchen equipment vendor called the maintenance director wondering if they had been fired.

Take Care Of Yourself (Maintenance)

With the LineCheck accountability system in place, employees get the small stuff done so maintenance contractors are not hired last minute for bigger (read: more expensive) problems.

Life With LineCheck

The beauty of the LineCheck accountability system is that it allows managers to know in real time when their expectations are not met. Since problems don’t accumulate, they are easy to correct. Since employees know there is an accountability system in place, they are more encouraged to take care of the daily responsibilities that drive big results.

The most interesting feedback? Managers love spending their time coaching and training instead of checking up and correcting. Their focus moves away from problems and towards opportunity. Lastly, truly knowing the condition of your restaurant without having to physically be in the building helps everyone sleep better at night.

Proactive processes are a beautiful thing.

4 Ways Processes Free Leaders

creating process

I went to work for a commercial construction company when I was 22. I had little experience managing construction projects, and my first assignment was to manage about 20 small concrete dumpster pad installations for a giant retail chain. Thankfully, I was also given a process to follow.

For each new project, there was a questionnaire to fill out, a quote form to complete based on the answers, and a schedule that worked backward from the installation date.

My first month at that job was a huge success, not because of my skillset, but because of the process.

I went on to manage other projects in the first couple of years I worked there: over 70 build outs, over 250 remodel, and even launch the maintenance and repair division for the company.

I even got to build out a team and train others to do the work I was doing. It was a ton of work, but it was easily manageable because of the processes I created to manage the workload.

If you are like me, you are in a leadership position because of your desire (or maybe even your compulsion) to go first. You love to solve problems and make things happen. These are great attributes, but without processes, you will burn out.

Let’s talk about 4 ways processes free leaders.

Free the information that’s trapped in your head.

There is concept called unconscious competence. It describes the skills you possess which come so naturally you are unaware of the fact they are skills. In fact, many people falsely assume everyone else has these same skills.

While it’s important to put your skills to use, you are creating a trap for yourself if you are the only one who can perform a certain task.

Maybe you are really good at helping an angry customer and resolving conflict. If I watched you resolve your next five customer complaints, I would most likely notice you take the same steps in each situation even if you are unaware of these steps.

If you don’t take time to understand how you do something, you will never be able to train someone else to do it. You will become a bottleneck and feel trapped in your work.

Build a team of talented people.

I have a leadership adage I follow: If know how to do something well, you have a moral obligation to teach it to others.

I believe this because one of the signs of a great leader is their ability to help others grow. Building a process for others to follow is an effective way to teach others because it gives them something to refer to while they are learning. They are able to focus on what needs to be done while you work with them to understand why each step is necessary.

Teaching others creates more people who can do what you do, giving you more time.

Create more time through delegataion.

The ability and willingness to delegate separates a leader from a worker.

The more successful your business gets, the bigger the problems are, and the more work you have to do. That is, unless you learn to delegate.

While it’s scary to hand off responsibility to someone else, providing a process for your team to follow will give you peace of mind. You can rest assured your team knows what steps they need to take to do their job effectively.

And once you experience the freedom that comes from delegation, you will have more time and mental bandwidth to work on new challenges and opportunities.

Have time to build relationships.

Business is made up of people. If you neglect your people, you neglect your business.

Too many leaders are trapped in their tasks. They are too reactive. They take on too many problems. They grow resentful of others. They ask themselves why their team doesn’t care as much as they do. They grow tired and demanding. They become irritable, and without realizing it, they drive people away.

By understanding what they know, teaching others, and delegating responsibility to others, leaders will create the margin to build relationships with their employees. I am talking about creating a solid foundation of trust that only comes from listening and communicating with your team.

Leaders who demonstrate that they care and who build trust will create teams of people who work just as hard when they are out of the building as they do when they are in it.


Leaders who feel trapped are ineffective leaders. We believe in creating tools that free leaders, give them margin, and help them do what people do best: solve problems and serve others.