Barista Magazine

AUG-SEP 2018

Serving People Serving Coffee Since 2005

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forget if you don't access those settings on a semi-regular basis. Even the best techs out there will refer to manuals for programming machines they might not see very often. We also get a fair amount of service calls from folks playing around with programming. It's usually something that's rela- tively simple to fi x, but it can be diffi cult to troubleshoot over the phone (especially if you don't mention you were messing around with programming!). A lot of manufacturers make accessing programming modes more diffi cult than they need to be. Turn it off, push this button, turn it on, rub your tummy, pat your head. I think if you and the café owner are cool with sharing that info and letting peo- ple play with brew parameters, go for it! If it were me, I would set a base recipe that's easy to remember and refer to later just in case things get a little squirrely. Have fun! —Double J Are preventive maintenance visits really worth it, or is that just a tech trying to create a steady stream of income? I love this question! The answer is both. Preventive mainte- nance is an important part of having a healthy understanding of what is going on with your machine on a regular ongoing basis and catching things that may become a problem before they actually do (i.e. preventive-ly). A qualifi ed and attentive tech won't just show up to change gaskets and screens, and get the heck out of there and on to the next call. They should really be spending the time they are there in your café push- ing every button, turning every knob, and fi ddling with every doohickey on your machine. They should be listening for odd sounds (hissing, clicking, etc.), checking for proper pressure and fl ow rates, looking for leaks, and really giving your machine a good look and listen. After all of that, a good tech should go over all of their fi ndings with you to keep you aware of possible issues on the horizon, in an effort to help you plan and budget for upcoming expenses rather than being blind- sided by a broken pressurestat or a blown heating element. Preventive maintenance calls are all in the name of lessen- ing emergency service calls and downtime (i.e., lost business) for the café owner. The other side of this coin is that your technician is also running their own business, and does need cash fl ow to continue to operate. Tech companies have a lot of overhead in terms of vehicle maintenance, insurance, ware- house and workbench space, parts inventory, and many other things that have to be maintained in order to make sure we are available to come running when that call comes in. If techs only relied on emergency calls to pay the bills, there would be days or weeks where they may not have any work to do. A tech without regular work is not going to be a tech for long. One great way a lot of good techs and service companies do this is to set up a recurring service package where the customer has regular (say, quarterly) visits, which keeps you and your technician up to date with all the goings-on in your equipment, and keeps your machines running top-notch at all times, rather than in a cycle of working great for a couple months before steadily declining into terrible shot consistency and major repairs. Regular preventive maintenance calls also help you as the business owner to better budget the service work you may need over the year and fi gure it into your cost of doing business instead of being surprised by a big bill you weren't counting on. —Alex How can I prepare myself for the real cost of maintenance? How do I avoid sticker shock? At Black Rabbit Service, we offer service packages. I know other service companies have things called subscriptions, contracts, memberships, etc. But as far as I know, the idea is the same. We build packages by fi guring out all the parts and labor you'll need for a 12-month period and total it all up. De- pending on what equipment and fi ltration you have, most of our packages land somewhere between $2,000 and $3,000 for the year. We take a small deposit upfront and break out the There are a lot of shady mechanics in every repair industry, and coffee tech is no exception. 111

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