As an Orlando restaurant owner, you deal with numerous vendors. But do you consider your plumbing contractor to be one of them? If not, you probably should! Just like all of the businesses you depend upon in your supply chain, a good plumber can help your restaurant save money while raising the real – and perceived – quality of your customer experience. With 60 years of experience in the industry, we at Adams and Son Plumbing want you to know the advantages of having a reliable plumbing contractor who not only provides prompt, expert service during emergency situations but works with you on a proactive basis to prevent problems and recommend improvements.
First, the obvious. Water is vital for both cooking and maintaining clean and sanitary conditions in your kitchen and serving areas. And it’s also probably one of your major costs of operating your business. As the trade publication restaurant development+design points out, restaurants can pay for water up to three times: to bring it into the building, to heat it and eventually to dispose of it. Obviously, the more efficient your restaurant is at conserving water, the more economically it can operate. And, of course, plumbing in excellent repair helps provide the sanitary conditions essential for safe operation and passing health inspections.
It’s bad enough when residential plumbing is neglected. But as a restaurant owner, your responsibilities are more far-reaching. You literally can’t afford to let things go until an emergency occurs. Drain line maintenance company Drain-Net Technologies takes a look at common restaurant plumbing problems, complete with disturbing photos of some of the major issues that restaurants can face when they neglect their drains and plumbing.
According to the company, the average restaurant’s plumbing expenses are about 0.2% of sales. So a restaurant that has annual sales of $5 million could average about $10,000 a year in plumbing expenses. Add emergency calls to that – plus the revenue lost due to operational interruption – and you can see the true cost of neglect. Of course, ongoing plumbing problems can ultimately result in lost business, as word about poor sanitation spreads on review sites and other social media platforms.
Economical use of water and basic maintenance measures can go a long way in preventing the need for extensive repairs. Our colleagues at Crawford Mechanical Services in Columbus, OH, offer five plumbing practices your restaurant should follow:
- Faucets – Check that faucets function properly and don’t leak when not in use. A small drip can go unnoticed in a busy restaurant but can make a big impact on your utility bills. Look for evidence of leaks around the pipes and under the sinks, and repair them as soon as possible. Install low-flow aerators at all sinks. This can save about $100 annually per sink.
- Water brooms – They’re faster and more efficient in cleaning spray-down areas than garden hose nozzles, and can also save on energy costs. Look for one with a wide spray arm with multiple jets to manage the use of water.
- Water filtering systems – High levels of chloramine in municipal water can wreak havoc with your equipment and deteriorate stainless steel. Installing a whole water filtering system can ensure your water is safe to use and prevent deterioration of your equipment.
- Drain tempering kits – Most areas require the water to be cooled down before it can be dumped into the sewer system, which means your hot water from dishwashers and other equipment must pass through a drain tempering kit before it exits the building. Use copper pipes instead of plastic, which can melt or warp from repeated exposure to high-temperature water.
- Grease traps – It may be tempting to only use grease traps on sinks where you know it will be an issue. But the truth is, grease is often a problem in all sinks in a restaurant or kitchen. Installing grease traps on all your sinks may save you aggravation and the cost of emergency calls to the plumber.
While we’ve focused attention on the kitchen, the front-of-house areas your customers encounter are just as important. Yes, we mean restrooms. Negligence here can result in a poor customer experience and bad reputation. Just check out Yelp! reviews for complaints about how dirty restrooms ruined the dining experience. Toilets that don’t flush properly can create a health hazard (many people give up on trying to flush the contents down, leaving an unsanitary mess for the next visitor).
Word to the wise:
Even though it isn’t a plumbing issue, running out of soap and paper towels makes it impossible for your waitstaff to wash their hands properly before returning to work. Customers aren’t too thrilled about not being able to wash up, either, but guess which one is more likely to cause an outbreak of E. coli? It’s last-mile failure to have the plumbing working, but not keep up with the supplies needed to maintain sanitary conditions.
Regular plumbing maintenance lets you keep your restaurant safe, while ultimately saving money on water bills and emergency repairs that can interrupt operations (which is also an increased expense your accountant knows all too well).
In the long run, building a relationship with an experienced plumbing contractor is right up there with the relationship you’ve cultivated with your jealously guarded source of artisanal endives. Okay, that’s probably not a great example, but we’re master plumbers, not restaurateurs. Which is exactly our point. Orlando is one of America’s most competitive restaurant markets, so you need every advantage you can get! Contact us today.