8 tips to get ready for your next preventive maintenance visit
Brady Butler, Trail Blaze Coffee Academy
Regular preventive maintenance visits help keep coffee equipment healthy and happy. When properly planned and executed, they help keep coffee businesses healthy (and their owners happy) too.
But poorly planned or executed PM visits can be far from enjoyable experiences for both technicians and their service clients.
“Be prepared” is a great motto for Scouts, and for coffee equipment technicians too. Here are eight tips to help techs plan, prepare, and perform PM service like a pro:
1. Ask questions
When scheduling the visit, ask about the equipment. Is everything working properly? Has anyone noticed anything unusual? Clients sometimes put off calling about a problem, assuming that it can be addressed easily as part of the PM visit. Asking questions beforehand helps spoil these onsite surprises, letting a tech have potential replacement parts on-hand and budget more time for the visit.
2. Be on the same page
When scheduling the visit, discuss recommended services, confirm what will be done, and communicate the cost and length of the visit. When recommending items, consider manufacturer suggested replacement intervals. Grinder burr replacement interval can usually be estimated based on pounds or kilograms of coffee ground per week, using a manufacturer’s recommended grinding capacity (many are listed here).
3. Make a checklist
Wise technicians use preventive maintenance checklists to stay organized during the call. They also make useful planning tools. If using a standard checklist, mark it up beforehand to reflect the coffee equipment which will be serviced. Be sure to include details like manufacturers and models, plus the number of grinders, espresso machine groups and steamwands, and water filtration systems.
4. Stock up
Once the equipment and services to be performed are known, collect the necessary parts. Though some suppliers offer preventive maintenance parts kits for their machines, it often makes sense for techs to assemble their own kits using individual parts. In both cases, bagging up parts in advance makes it less likely that something is missed or used up before the call. Replacement parts can be purchased directly from equipment manufacturers or from suppliers like Sproparts.com and EspressoParts.com. No matter the source, always confirm that the parts are right for the specific manufacturer and model of machine to be serviced.
5. Time it right
One benefit of preventive maintenance visits is that they can be scheduled for convenience of the client and technician. Where possible, try to identify less busy times of day for the client to minimize lost sales and business disruption. Optimal scheduling may not always be a possibility, but it’s worth a try.
6. Check in
This advice isn’t just for preventive maintenance visits. Technicians should always make sure the client knows they are there before starting service. It’s the courteous thing to do, but they may also have important information to share. Letting the manager know service is about to begin also gives them an opportunity to brew one last batch of coffee.
7. Shut it down
It’s painful for café managers to watch a prospective sale turn around and walk out the door. But with the number of steps involved with many PM visits, being able to work efficiently through the checklist is essential. This is difficult to do and potentially dangerous if a technician is trying to work around a barista. Shutting down the espresso bar while the machine and grinders are being serviced is the smart plan.
8. Check out
When performing service, don’t just look at the preventive maintenance checklist. Use it to record operating parameters and detailed observations. Then, once service is complete, review it with the client and ask them to sign it. This creates a record of the machine’s state when in proper working order, which may be useful if a problem develops in the months following the visit.
Be prepared for preventive maintenance visits! It’s a great way to make the experience better for service technicians and clients alike.
To learn more about performing preventive maintenance for coffee equipment, join an upcoming session of our Coffee Technician Training Camp!