Service Sphere talks Preventative vs reactive maintenance

If you’re a café owner, then I don’t need to tell you twice about the cost of operating your dream business, nor the constant list of to-do items and daily stresses.

Bringing your own café to life is no easy feat. By the time you’ve invested in grinders, espresso machines, fit-out, top-notch produce, and staff wages, the last thing you want to worry about is the performance of your equipment, and paying a ridiculous amount for a faulty part that could easily have been avoided.

When that time comes – and there’s no telling when – a little voice in your head will be saying: “You should have stuck to a preventative maintenance schedule”.

Preventative maintenance, in my eyes, is about having an active plan to service your espresso machine and grinder on a regular basis in order to get the most from your equipment for as long as you own it.

Reactive or breakdown maintenance, on the other hand, is a knee-jerk reaction to fixing a problem that’s most often inconvenient and costly.

Which category do you fall into? If you’re the “reactive” type, then you share the belief that your coffee machine is invincible. If it ever breaks down an inexpensive, quick-solution will manifest, and with some luck you won’t have to spend much money on repairs, parts, tools, or labour. If you share this mindset, it’s time to change.

Visualise a busy Sunday morning with customers lining out the door to receive their morning coffee. If your one and only espresso machine decides to stop functioning right in that peak time, what would you do? You can call a technician on a Sunday for an emergency repair, but you can guarantee that the cost to assess, diagnose, and fix the problem will be a timely and expensive inconvenience to your business, not to mention the loss of income and your own increased stress.

Reacting to maintenance “as needed” has the attractiveness of flexibility – until you find yourself in a rut and unable to get the parts or labour you need within a suitable timeframe. The “putting out fires” approach usually occupies valuable resources, as key staff are forced to make crisis management part in their day. All the while floor staff are idle, unable to do their job. If products aren’t going out, and you’re unable to meet your commitments, reactive maintenance to a breakdown could cost you more than is necessary in money, sales, and customer relationships. Have I convinced you yet?

When you compare that cost of preventative maintenance over reactive maintenance, you can clearly see savings. Take the example of a basic single boiler machine using 10-kilograms of coffee per week. Over three years, the cost of having this machine serviced using a regular preventative maintenance schedule works out to be around $3218.96 at Service Sphere. If we break down that cost per year ($1072.99), then by month ($89.42), and week ($20.63), preventative maintenance costs just $2.95 per day.

During one of those regular 12-month services, you might find yourself out of pocket an additional $680 for an unexpected part such as a pressure stat that needs replacing. Now, imagine if you ignored that 12-month service and your machine’s pressure stat breaks down during business hours. It may cost around $440 at retail price to replace the one faulty part.

If the pressure stat breaks down after hours, it will cost $550 for a technician to come out and replace it. And if the part breaks down on a weekend, it will cost around $1357 to change, which includes the cost of a technician and their minimum four-hour call-out cost. Seems a lot compared to the initial $680 out-of-pocket expense plus $1072.99 maintenance fee, doesn’t it?

One thing to bear in mind is that preventative maintenance schedules are designed depending on the volume of coffee used per day.
While each circumstance is difference, a good rule of thumb for frequency of service is the following:
15 kilograms of coffee or less per week = two services per year
15 to 30 kilograms of coffee per week  = three services per year
30 kilograms of coffee per week = four services per year.

Preventative maintenance can be divided into “minor” and “major” servicing. For instance, in a minor service, technicians will replace commonly wore parts such as showers and seals.
n In a major service at 12 and 24 months, technicians will replace key components such as pressure stats and water filters.

Preventative maintenance education is definitely on the rise, but there’s still more we can do to educate small cafés and roasters about the value of preventative versus reactive maintenance.

It all starts with an open discussion with your service provider and acknowledging that preventative maintenance is about a little short-term pain for long-term gain. There’s no better feeling than knowing your machine is performing at its best so you can concentrate on what you do best – running your business.

Talk to Service Sphere about a preventative maintenance schedule today. Visit

This article features in the June 2017 edition of BeanScene Magazine.

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