Foodservice Equipment Reports

Lack Of Training Is Costly

When we redesigned the magazine at the end of 2012, we added our new department Back Story. Each month, we hit up service technicians—members of the Commercial Food Equipment Service Association—and ask them to share their best (or craziest) service-call stories. They all have tales to tell. These anecdotes make for fun reading, but they also provide us the opportunity to suggest how operators can avoid making the same mistakes others have made when they fail to stem the misuse or abuse of their foodservice equipment. 

This month, I’m using our archive of Back Story articles for a presentation to the Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates during their annual conference. As I share the stories, some of which are really funny and others downright dangerous, I also provide a list of five to seven “must-do” operational and maintenance tips for several categories of equipment, from griddles to combis to dishmachines.

To prepare for the presentation, I reread all 18 of the Back Story articles we’ve done, and I was really struck anew by how much damage—really costly damage—results when employers fail to train their employees on how to use equipment properly. In several cases, employees on a morning shift might get trained while a second or third shift or weekend staff doesn’t. Or managers will swear their people aren’t hosing down equipment or throwing ice on hot griddles, only to find out the cleaning crew is to blame. In every story, proper training would save thousands of dollars in service repairs and downtime. And employee misuse or abuse of the equipment voids the warranty. 

So why the heck is training so hard? Training is never “one and done”; it’s an ongoing endeavor that only works with constant repetition. Relying on employees’ common sense is risky. You can never assume employees will understand the obvious—that metal flatware should not go in the pulper, harsh chemical concentrates should be diluted or the combi drain is for water, not grease.

I would love to find out if any of you have an equipment training program that works well. In 2015, we’re planning to do an exclusive on how chains can track service and repairs effectively and quantify the benefits of preventive maintenance programs. A case study on effective training programs would make a great companion piece. Send me an email at if you think your chain or organization has a good policy in place, and you’re willing to share.

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