Taking up a planned preventative maintenance contract can protect your investment and ensure that you are always getting the best performance from your equipment. Here at Acme we would always recommend taking out a plan, reliability is essential and knowing that your systems are protected is fundamental.
In a busy environment it is easy to neglect your equipment until something goes wrong, which can result in a large bill and loss of output.
But when so many companies claim to be offering top of the range maintenance packages, it is difficult for operators to determine whether they are getting the best package for their money.
Simon Mallett, Commercial Director and Catering specialist outlines the top questions that you need to ask yourself and any prospective preventative maintenance provider.
1. Can the provider deliver what I want?
One size does not fit all and a lot of maintenance providers seem to forget this, it is important that you find a ppm provider that tailors their packages around your needs.
Having said this, it is also important to understand what you want and need from a ppm contract. All too often operators go in without knowing what they want and come out with a gold standard ppm contract when in fact all they needed was a basic package.
Take a few minutes to think about what your company really needs, is it compliance and no more, genuine care for your equipment or partnership and dialogue with your service partner?
2. What is the scope of the work included?
Before signing a ppm contract, make sure that you and your provider sit down and go through what needs to be done to what equipment and how often. Establish the difference between a first service, an interim service and a safety check.
Normal working hours usually between 8.30am and 5.00pm are charged at a standard rate, but if access to your company is restricted at these times then costs may be higher, especially at weekends. Therefore it is important to iron out the details with the provider so that this can be included in your plan.
An annual safety check on electrical equipment is common practice, Gas equipment on the other hand should be checked regularly as should combi ovens and refrigeration cabinets. This is essential in order to maintain performance and extend the life of the equipment.
3. In the event of a breakdown, how quickly will my equipment
This is probably the most important question you can ask, after all, this is probably the sole reason you are considering taking out a ppm plan. So determining right from the start how quickly your equipment will be fixed in fundamental.
You need to make sure that what you are being quoted is actually going to be delivered by the provider, including what guarantees there are that they will visit your business/s as often as the agreement states.
Therefore it is imperative that you employ a reliable, credible and well established company. Do not cut costs by using a cheap provider, this will only cost you more in the long run.
How do I know if a company is reputable? Look at their client list, their accreditations – are they a member of reputable bodies such as CEDA, Refcom, etc? How long has the company been running? And finally, how competent are their customer service team? These are the people you will be dealing with, so it is important to make sure that your supplier has a professional and competent customer service team.
4. Where is the provider located?
It is important to check where your potential provider is located, do they have one head office or other offices scattered across the country? How many engineers do they have and how many of these are close to your business?
Having engineers in your city/area means that lead times on fixing your equipment will be reduced, having a regional base close by will mean that engineers have access to complex equipment that they may not have in their van stock.
5. How much will it cost me?
Before you sign anything make sure you know the true costs of your PPM plan. It is important to work out how much it is going to cost you over the time agreed, be sure to define what is included in the cost so that you don’t get any nasty surprises six months down the line.
It is important that you invest well in your maintenance package, going for the cheapest option may save you money in the long run, but is something goes wrong with your equipment and you need a fast reactive service, the chances are you will not be covered and you will also have to fork out for labour and parts.
6. What extra charges can I expect?
If you take out a comprehensive package, there should not be any extra charges. However if your business does not require this kind of package, it is important that you fully understand what is included in your package and what you may have to pay for. Do not be afraid to ask questions, if there is anything you are unsure about make sure you have all the answers before you sign a contract, read the small print – maintenance packages can often be complex.
Finally, make sure that your provider gives you a schedule of works that they will deliver for each appliance, so both of you are fully aware of the scope of work included.
7. What Accreditations does the provider have?
Accreditations are not there for show, they are there to tell you that a company can do what they say they can. Some accreditations are more important than others, if you are searching for a provider to maintain your gas equipment, make sure that they are Gas Safe accredited and for refrigeration that their engineers are F-Gas Registered.
Accreditations and the standing of a company in the industry is important and should influence your decision in choosing a supplier, you need to feel confident that your chosen provider has the skills and knowledge to effect a safe and efficient service. Safety accreditations such as Altius and Safe Contractor also show the company take Health and Safety seriously and the works will be carried out safely.
8. How will I know that the work has been carried out?
This is particularly relevant to companies with different estates, knowing that your provider has done the work you are paying for is crucial. Good service organisations will provide job sheets which show that comprehensive checks have been made to your appliances and that they are in safe and working condition.
My final comments? Make sure you read the terms and conditions, know what you are signing up for and make sure that your supplier is reputable, you need to know that you can reply on them to get the job done. Spend some time doing a bit of research on the company, talk to their service department about the different options available before you set up a meeting so that you can bring up certain points you are unsure about and negotiate these.
For more information about PPM plans you can take a look at our website: www.acmefg.com or take a look at our maintenance brochure, we offer our customers three set plans and then tailor these plans to suit your specific needs and requirements.