Article contributed by Mike Berman, COO, Day & Nite/All Service
Because I’m working and advocating for our customers every day, we understand the challenges that face the restaurant and foodservice operating professional. There’s a need to balance a cash flow and best operating practices. In our service segment, those decisions often focus on the selection of replacement parts for your kitchens.
Quality and performance of non-OEM parts has greatly improved in recent years and promises to get better. The right non-OEM is far better than anything associated “cheapest replacement part” and the two should not be confused with one another. Even more important, given the food and worker safety issues, buying the cheapest part has great potential to become the most expensive bad decision anyone could ever make. We’re talking about dangerous gas or electric powered pieces of sensitive equipment. However sturdy these items may be, one malfunction on a small part can result in a catastrophe. Simply, the best/smartest approach is to get the highest performance part at the right price—very definition of value.
Let this layman try to put it in restaurant terms. I have a reasonably high appreciation for red wine, have over 6 dozen self-selected bottles in my cellar. Suspect I am hardly alone. Even with this, why do I always defer to a Sommelier when I go out to dinner? Because I don’t qualify as an advanced hobbyist, let alone an expert. While selecting the wrong bottle of wine—at any price!!—may diminish the dining experience, leaving critical parts selection to anyone less than foremost experts in this volatile environment absolutely will have serious consequences.
In an attempt to take a close look at this, let’s explore through these crucial issues:
What are the pros and cons of the cheapest replacement part vs. an OEM warrantied part?
Rarely, if ever, can there be any pros for putting the cheapest part in sensitive kitchen equipment. The objective is to procure the highest performing part at the best possible price where, depending on the equipment and part, OEM and non-OEM product can be viable. Because of the many and growing variables involved, expertise is required to guide and drive right decisions. Just knowing the part description and specs is insufficient to distinguish between OEM and non-OEM. Instead, knowing how a particular component is likely to perform in a given environment is critical.
Is each replacement part a piece of a puzzle or do they stand alone?
Schematically each part stands alone, but functionally each are vital pieces of a complex, integrated and sensitive puzzle. All manufactured items operate as a series of dependencies. More often than not, equipment isn’t fully/properly fixed the first time because of snap judgments about one obviously misfiring part. Just as you wouldn’t go back to a physician who didn’t do a thorough examination before prescribing medicine, quick and narrow focus on a problem part typically amounts to treating a symptom rather than the greater illness. Hence, the axiom “prescription without proper diagnosis is malpractice” surely applies.
Why can’t I (restaurant owner) just buy it on Amazon and then call you to install it?
Pretty much for the same reasons, I can’t pick up groceries at Amazon’s Whole Foods and have you prepare the meal for me at your establishment or what would happen if I were to whip up my own meal in your kitchen using the very best ingredients you’ve purchased. Less flippantly, the real issue at hand is maximum equipment uptime. Just as each part is a critical piece of a complex puzzle, achieving maximum uptime is a reflection of a greater, interdependent continuum involving nothing less than expertise in diagnosis, selection, installation and maintenance.
What changes have there been in kitchen equipment that has impacted how an operator should think about parts?
Digital components, advanced circuitry and continued product differentiation certainly make for better equipment while simultaneously raising uptime’s stakes. In this regard, any operator thinking in terms of “parts” is already taking the wrong fork in the road. Instead, an operator’s every focus should be highest return on asset, measured by equipment uptime. The previously summarized synchronous symphony of expertise + product to deliver the highest value in a given environment, assuring maximum uptime is the path to superior return on asset, greatly reducing all associated risks.
We heard that Heritage and Parts Town merged. Will that drive the price for parts up?
Parts Town and Heritage have merged to form a $1 billion dollar distributorship. While time will tell exactly how this will play out, across all industries we’d be hard pressed to find any examples where the 2 largest companies merged and pricing didn’t go up. However, the more immediate and known (parts) inflation has come from global trade wars impact. The back half of 2019 was defined by ongoing price increases and 2020 already opened with selective increases. The wise operator also recognizes these events have created and might further lead to less availability and turnaround delays. All the more reason for relying on experts to navigate and manage this complicated terrain.
At some point is the right decision not to buy a part and to buy a new piece of equipment with a new warranty?
Yes, even the best maintained sturdiest equipment has a natural lifecycle. There’s more to this question than the simple buy vs. repair choice though. The prevailing industry model essentially reduces an operator’s decision to one or the other. There are emerging new models poised to expand the marketplace’s options beyond new with warranty vs. fix until death. Indeed, much as these questions are posed from a traditional point of product view the painfully limited choices are a function of approaching the entire hospitality ecosystem from a product/parts perspective. Emerging models are built around end-user experiences, taking in to account everything from operational performance to financial impact.
Is there a recipe for preventive maintenance that can switch in a smaller/less expensive part through the right service contract with Day & Nite rather than waiting for Saturday night full restaurant catastrophe?
Absolutely! Any establishment not protecting its interests with a thorough preventative maintenance agreement is openly inviting that Saturday night catastrophe. More than properly maintaining equipment, the right PM agreement with the right service provider will consistently, accurately project what may happen if additional repairs aren’t made. Proactive. Whether a Saturday evening or less trafficked day/time, equipment downtime means a mad scramble to fix what has already happened. Most cost-effective uptime is the operative phrase in this integrated service-delivery chain.
So here’s a simple takeaway. Our Day & Nite /All Service team is here to help. Use this essential 3-part recipe as your guide, whether a smaller or less expensive part, OEM or credentialed non-OEM, the part is only as good as the diagnosis, installation, and (ongoing) maintenance that your service company provides.
Mike Berman is the Chief Operating Officer of New Hyde Park, NY based Day & Nite/All Service. The veteran executive joined the service leader in 2016. He has held leadership positions in his career across a range of business-to-business service sector. Prior to joining Day & Nite he served as Chief Operating Officer of Outside Ventures, LLC, the parent company for several B2B service businesses with a particular concentration in merchant services. As Director and Chief Operating Officer of Meridian Capital Group LLC, he overhauled the corporate structure and enabled the company to achieve a 2006 run rate in excess of $30 billion.