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Equipment Maintenance Vendors

Are you getting what you need from your preventive maintenance contracts?

How great is it to get new equipment? It looks great, feels great and everyone is happy. Of course, once the equipment arrives, you have your entire team read the manual, right? The fitness team reads it so they know how to educate members about all of the bells and whistles. The sales team reads it so they know how to sell prospective members on how your facility offers the best equipment around. The facility maintenance team reads it so they know how to keep it looking new and shiny (this is a whole other topic). The equipment maintenance team reads it to find out how to keep it running perfectly.

Do you and your team know what equipment manufacturers recommend when it comes to maintaining equipment? It seems so simple: Wipe down the display, the pads and all surface areas of the machine using the recommended material; clean and lubricate the guide rods; vacuum around and under the machine; clean and oil the chains. It's pretty straightforward, if you have a little bit of mechanical know-how. But is it enough? If it is, why are you paying a contractor to come in and perform regular preventive maintenance on your equipment?

Beyond the manual

Most manufacturers will agree that a primary factor in adding years to a machine's life is simply keeping the machine and the area around it clean. That appears to be simple enough, right? Not really. What happens to the dust and dirt that gets into your machines before you have a chance to stop it? It builds up. It gets on sensors, it imbalances treadmill rollers, it creates drag on guide rods and starts to wear down your equipment. This is why you get someone else to come in and perform maintenance on your equipment. If they're good, they'll go above and beyond the manufacturer's guidelines.

Hiring maintenance vendors

There are certain things to consider when choosing an equipment maintenance vendor, or when you are evaluating your current provider.

What kind of contract is in place? Are the vendor's visits monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly? Do you feel as though the frequency of visits matches up to your usage levels? Does the contract account for equipment turnover?

One of the most important things to look for is whether the contract specifies what is to be done with each piece of equipment. Saying that primary maintenance (PM) will be performed on all cardio pieces is not enough. If you know nothing about equipment, you should still be able to pick up a PM contract and determine if it is being fulfilled. How are you being charged, by the unit or by the hour? This can make a big difference in the event of equipment changes.

What are they doing? Take the time to monitor what the preventive maintenance technicians are doing. Ask questions. Are they doing what they say they are doing? Watching and asking questions will not only tell you if you are getting your money's worth, it will educate you on the inner workings of your equipment. Knowing your way around the inside of your equipment could result in your being able to quickly remedy an issue and minimize downtime.

How are repairs addressed? If, during a preventive maintenance visit, the technician finds a problem with a piece of equipment that falls outside the scope of maintenance, how is it addressed? There are two options. In one, the preventive maintenance technician quotes a price and fixes it on the spot. The upside here is that you get the issue taken care of immediately. The downside is, you have to make a decision on the spot and don't get the opportunity to price shop the repair. The second option is that the technician notes the issue and provides a quote for the repair. You may need to wait a little longer for the issue to get addressed, but you have the opportunity to make a more informed decision.

Is documentation complete? Keeping accurate, detailed records of preventive maintenance and repairs is a must. Each machine should have its own history. Having good, detailed records will help you pinpoint machines that have regular issues, and others that may be under-used. Maintenance providers should be able to provide this after every visit.

Create a plan

Equipment is a major investment, and mainstream manufacturers develop it to ensure that you get a good return on your investment. But it doesn't end there. You have to know your equipment and what it needs to keep running for a long time. Reinvest in your equipment with a good maintenance plan that is executed properly.
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