Responsibilities Restaurant Owners Should Share

As a restaurant owner, there will always be a long list of ongoing responsibilities. Local, independently owned restaurants have even more responsibilities than chain restaurants, because the locally owned independent does not have the benefit of a corporate office and commissary to handle all of the back-end operations.  A locally owned independent restaurant simply has a longer list of responsibilities.  This is why most successful operators work 60 – 80 hours per week.

At the top of the list is always food cost, liquor cost and labor costs, as well as important details such as food quality and customer service.  Not to mention, employee issues and procedural issues.

With so many responsibilities, it’s important to consider working with other local partners to help complete important tasks efficiently.

So, what is a major responsibility that can be removed from your list and managed by a local partner?
Managing the restaurant’s dishwasher, warewashing, cleaning chemicals and sanitizing programs.

Cleaning and sanitizing equipment and chemicals are extremely important, however, they generally fall lower on a priority list. By hiring a local partner such as Cleaner Solutions to oversee this area, owners can be confident that their employees have all the right products, equipment and will always be on budget.

So, what should you expect from a local commercial dishwasher and cleaning chemical partner?

A partner who:

  • Manages Employees – We work directly with the restaurant staff.  Building relationships with staff can lead to direct communication between the partner and staff about proper chemical and dish machine uses as well as issues that arise, which eliminates the time an owner has to spend worrying about the dish machine and cleaning solutions.
  • Manages Chemical Inventory – Keeping chemicals up to par is time consuming and critical to maintaining a clean restaurant, which is why it’s an important task that should be handled by a partner. The restaurateur never has to order the product.
  • Delivers and Puts Away Stock – Having materials delivered and put away on the proper shelves will save time as the restaurant staff will not need to sign for deliveries or put the stock away. Owners will also be assured that the stock is always put away in the correct location.
  • Maintains the Dishwasher – Ongoing evaluation and proper cleaning of the dish machine is very important to help eliminate equipment issues and ensure the pots, pans and dishes are cleaned effectively.
  • Offers Flat Rate Pricing – With our Whole House Plan, we offer guaranteed flat rate pricing.  This means that you always pay the same price.  You are always on budget.
  • Guarantees No Price Increases for 1 Year  We review our accounts and pricing annually. You are guaranteed not to see a price increase more than once per year. There is no need to constantly check prices.
  • Controls Chemical Usage Spikes – When your chemical usage spikes up you will not pay extra. We work directly with the staff to find the cause of the increase and we control it.

Finding a partner who can take care of all the issues related to dishwashers and cleaning chemicals while keeping you on budget will take a very important task off your long list of responsibilities. Ultimately, this will allow for more time to focus on other restaurant related responsibilities that can’t be handled by an outside partner.

Low-Temp Dish Machine Water Temperature

Low temperature commercial dishwashers have wash and rinse cycles that run between 120 and 150 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). This temperature range does not achieve sanitation alone so the low-temp dish machines require chemical sanitizers. Although you are utilizing chemicals for sanitation, the water temperature has a large effect on cleaning results. Here are several things you need to know about your low-temp dish machine:

  • The Right Temperature: The quick answer is between 140 °F and 150 °F.
  • The Source of the Hot Water: Low-temp dishwasher machines do not heat the water, they use the water from your hot water heater. In order to get the correct water temperature in the dish machine, you’ll need to adjust the temperature on the water heater.
  • National Sanitary Foundation Requirements: For low-temp dish machines the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) requires a minimum of 120 °F for automatic dishwasher machine applications. Therefore, this is the bare minimum and a temperature less than 120 °F will result in a health department violation. Local codes may be higher but none will be lower. Check your local codes to ensure you’re following the correct guidelines.
  • 120 °F Leads to Bad Results: While 120 °F is the bare minimum, 120 °F will leave you with poor cleaning results for a number of reasons.
      • If the dish machine water temperature is lower than 138.5 °F (the temperature that animal fat begins to break down), the dish machine is depending upon the detergent to do all of the work to remove the fat. This is not practical or cost effective and the residual grease and fat will cause film on the wares, spotting on the glassware and smears on the flatware.
      • Grease will build up inside the dish machine and there will be a visible film on the walls. Also, the water from every rack of dishes will be mixing with this residual grease and some of that will redeposit onto the dishes.
      • Dishes will dry slowly which then slows down the operation. Dishes may be stacked before they are dry but then the water will accumulate on the stacked dishes leading to water rings on the wears.
  • The Purpose of the Drying Agent: The Drying Agent is designed to disperse within a certain temperature range, which is referred to as the cloud point. At the prescribed temperature, the drying agent disperses, which temporarily turns the water cloudy.  Once dispersed, the drying agent gives the rinse water a sheeting effect allowing the water to run off quickly so the wares dry faster. It’s important to make sure you utilize a high-quality drying agent along with setting the dish machine at the proper temperature to achieve the best results.
  • The Indication of the Wrong Temperature: Every dish machine has a temperature gauge installed on it, however, it’s important to also pay attention to the presence of suds in the rinse water, as this is an indication that the water is not hot enough. The rinse additive in combination with the residual animal fat make a soap and leave a film on the dishes. To counteract this situation, you can either raise the water temperature or reduce the amount of drying agent. Raising the water temperature is the best option because if you reduce the drying agent it will leave the wares wetter and result in a greasier film.

Put your best foot forward and get great cleaning results by ensuring you have your low-temp dish machine set at the correct temperature and by using high-quality chemicals.

Restaurant Chemicals: Ready-To-Use vs Concentrates

Is your restaurant using Ready-To-Use (RTU) cleaning chemicals? Then it may be time to consider concentrates to save big on cleaning supplies for your commercial restaurant.

Buying RTU products to clean a commercial restaurant may seem to be cost effective because of their low purchase price, but they are actually much more expensive than concentrates.

Generally speaking, from a manufacturing standpoint, there is more cost in the packaging of a RTU cleaning product than there is in the cleaning agents themselves.

If you are buying $1.00 worth of RTU cleaners, $1.00 of concentrates will yield 4 to 8 times as much usable product for the same cost.

Purchasing concentrates is the better alternative as you will get high-quality chemicals for less money. Restaurants have saved as much as 30 to 70 percent on chemical cleaning and sanitizing products by switching to concentrates.

Why Are Restaurants Not Using Concentrates?

With such a drastic cost advantage in working with concentrates, why do restaurants still use RTU cleaning products?

The most frequent response is that the employees waste the concentrates. “Employees will not work within the system. They just do what they want.”

Does it make sense that restaurants end up spending 3 times, 4 times, or 6 times as much on RTU products as you would do on concentrates because employees do not work within the system?

If an employee was caught wasting 2 lbs. of ground beef to make a ½ lb. hamburger would the system be fixed or would that employee be fired? Why are employees allowed to waste money on cleaning chemicals?

Who to Hold Accountable

Hold your chemical vendor and your employees accountable.

The Chemical Vendor

  • Have them install a dilution system that properly dilutes the cleaning chemical.
  • Have them demonstrate that the properly diluted product works equal to or superior to the RTU, which justifies the massive cost savings.
  • Have them train your staff to keep the wasted chemicals to a minimum.
  • Have them be in charge of managing the chemical program along with proper labeling and storage to ensure you stay on budget.

The Employees

  • If an employee is circumventing a system that works as advertised, they are hurting the business and need to be instructed on how to perform the task correctly.
  • Further, they should be observed to make sure they are following the instructions after training.
  • More than likely an employee that circumvents cleaning procedures will also circumvent other systems (food prep, company policies) as well. So it’s helpful to hold them accountable for all tasks at hand.
  • Complete a training demo with employees (see suggested training demo instructions below).

This is your money or your budget. In order to save money and use more efficient cleaning chemicals, steps may need to be taken to hold both your chemical vendor and employees accountable. Once you address both, you can stay on budget.


Training Demo For Employees

Try the training demo below with employees to help explain the importance of following concentrate instructions and how it will lead to the best cleaning results.

Required items:
2 Quart bottles with sprayers.
1 Quart of glass cleaner concentrate.
2 Clean small towels for washing a window.

During a training meeting invite an employee to a cleaning contest and explain that you will each clean one window or mirror.

  • Have the employee mix a quart of glass cleaner using the concentrate and water. Explain that he or she can use as much of the concentrate as they need or want.
  • Then you mix your glass cleaner, mixing the product exactly as directed by the products label.
  • Both you and your employee should then start cleaning the windows at the same time.
  • See who finishes first and with the best result.

Hints–

  • Make sure to fold your towel into a ¼ fold and use one side for cleaning and one side for wiping dry. It helps a lot.
  • Make sure to use small towels.
  • Make sure to choose an employee who frequently does not perform tasks correctly.

What will more than likely happen during the demo?

The employee will mix the glass cleaner way too strong and it will smear all over the glass. He or she will use their small towel to wipe up a lot of extra chemical. You will finish quicker with a better result and the employee will understand the difference it makes. The point will be made that more is not always better and that it’s important to follow the exact instructions in order to perform well and help the business cut down on wasted chemicals.