Tag Archives: service
The summer has arrived in style, crowning the England cricket team champions of the world in what must be the most nerve-racking and exciting sporting final ever broadcast. The subsequent celebrations involved food and drink galore, which leads nicely on to our latest regional round-up of all things to be eaten and drunk.
First, keep an eye on social media as Cardiff is getting ready to host its month-long street food celebration with the Summer Feastival returning for summer 2019. Last year, a host of street food traders took over Sophia Gardens. This year, it will be held at City Hall Lawns from Saturday, August 10 until Sunday, September 8. It’s free entry to the festival featuring a changing line-up of different street food traders from across Wales and the South West. A stage will feature live music performances.
South West Business Booming
In the year ending March 2019, HMRC has reported that businesses in the South West exported more than £850m of locally produced food and drink with a surge in trading with Singapore, growing by 31%. Overseas sales of drinks from this region showed the largest growth over the period, increasing by 17% to reach more than £134m. Food Minister David Rutley said, “it is fantastic to see the growing appetite for the South West’s quality produce in markets such as France, Spain and Singapore.” In the first three months of 2019 the nation’s food and drink exports were £5.7B.
There’s a new scheme taking place in Bristol this summer. Some of city’s restaurants and cafes are serving green-inspired dishes to support food redistribution charity, FareShare South West’s #ActiveAteBristol campaign. The campaign’s aim for 2019 is to provide over 40,000 meals to children at projects and holiday clubs throughout Bristol during the long summer holidays.
School food support stops in the holidays and the charity wants all children to eat properly over the six-week break. By ordering a dish inspired by the green in FareShare’s logo at a partaking cafe or restaurant; a donation will be made to FareShare South West. The scheme runs from July 19 to September 1.
Wales Does Well
The Development Bank of Wales attended the Royal Welsh Show last week, Europe’s largest agricultural show. The Development Bank has a range of funds available to help all sectors including farming, tourism, retail, and food and drink. The fund’s key aim is to finance tourism projects, which have the opportunity to create positive impact on growing the sector and Welsh economy. In the last financial year the Development Bank supported Welsh businesses with 220 micro loans.
The show saw Welsh food and drink business support programme, Cywain, celebrating a decade of nurturing talent in the sector by showcasing some of the new enterprises. Cywain guides and encourages small food and drink businesses. Support is achieved through packages of business support targeted to individual requirements. These include expert advice and mentoring, product development, networking, clustering, and test trading and market opportunities.
AC Services News
At AC Services our new Engineer Steve Miles joined us in March and attended Rational’s 3 Day training in Luton in April. He continued his side-by-side training with our two Senior engineers and is now out in his own van helping customers.
Helen commented: “Steve is doing extremely well helping our full range of customers big and small, old and new with their Rational oven breakdowns, service and installations. It is great to have him in our team”
When does the party season start for you? And when does it finish? New Year’s Day? What’s on all the menus? Turkey? Goose? Beef? Vegan platters? These are all pressing decisions! And let’s not forget the most important one – is your Rational oven Christmas-ready?
For those in catering, the oven is the most important gift over the festive season. If it breaks down, no amount of batteries or prayers will put it right. And few will be willing to sacrifice their own Christmas spirit to rush over to fix it.
There you have it, best case scenario – Christmas dinner ruined. Worst case scenario – frustrated and angry diners, potential court cases and an establishment with a very bad reputation. For restaurants and eateries who are planning to serve sumptuous banquets on and before the day, this could be catastrophic.
There is a solution: get your oven serviced now. Don’t wait for December, call AC Services (Southern) and avoid any last minute rush. We can guarantee that up until Christmas Eve, our engineers will be working flat out to cope with the inevitable panicked last minute rush!
Moreover, why not consider setting up a regular contract so that you can have peace of mind that your oven is looked after all year round? We have a number of options that suit both budget and business.
Value for money
What will you get for your money? Typically engineers will sort any of those annoying little faults that can compromise performance, if left unchecked. We keep our vans fully stocked so we can deliver a fix on the first visit in more than 95% of call-outs whilst we are with you.
- function testing and commissioning of elements
- checking the operational mode of water, gas and electrical connections
- testing electrical components, gas specific parts and steam generation.
You don’t even have to fret about forgetting the date of your scheduled Rational oven service. Every customer who gets their oven serviced will be issued with a reminder the month before it is due next year. So there’s no reason for you to conveniently forget!
Finally, make sure that you have plenty of oven cleaning materials in stock. Rational Self-Cooking-Centers have automatic cleaning programmes built into their software. When used with the right cleaning materials you get cosmetic and hygienic cleanliness.
Be prepared and make sure your Rational oven is in working order for Christmas service. Call us now and we can calmly talk you through the options available on 01454 322 222. Then you’ll have peace of mind that the Christmas season will go ahead as planned.
We are now back at work having had a busy but successful Christmas period. Although we had plenty of call-outs, no client had to take the drastic step of cancelling bookings due to an inoperable oven!
However, there were numerous calls to us regarding last minute breakdowns preceding and following Christmas. The majority of these calls were for replacement parts: luckily all of our engineers carry the necessary parts so the majority of ovens were fixed quickly and efficiently.
New Year New Start
The message this week is simple – New Year, new start so get your ovens serviced now. Although we obviously coped with the inevitable last minute rush before the end of last year, it makes better sense to arrange a service package with us. Customers that do find it suits everyone’s calendars and budgets.
A Rational Oven service starts from £185 plus VAT depending on model and age. During the visit we will sort any of those annoying little faults that, left unchecked can compromise performance. Remember that our policy is to keep our vans fully stocked so we can deliver a fix on the first visit in more than 95% of call-outs whilst we are with you.
- function testing and commissioning of elements,
- checking the operational mode of water, gas and electrical connections,
- testing electrical components, gas specific parts and steam generation.
Every part of the oven is tested and checked for total peace of mind and should any faults be detected, then they will be dealt with as a priority.
And don’t worry about forgetting the date of your scheduled Rational oven service. Every customer who gets their oven serviced will get a reminder the month before it is due next year. We prefer not to give you any excuse to forget!
Coming Up Fast
The next three months will see some significant annual events loved by the catering industry. Valentine’s Day is the major event of February followed swiftly by Mother’s Day then Easter. Before we know it, silly season including the FIFA World Cup will be upon us.
So take advantage of the down season and book a service with us today. Don’t procrastinate!
Hopefully, you will have ordered the necessary cleaning accessories and have had your oven checked over before the holidays begin.
But rest assured that although we are closed on the key dates, we will have engineers on call on the days in between.
There are a few simple tips to help you look after your oven and ensure that it is running to its maximum capacity. Have a look here for a list of useful tips for cleaning and maintenance.
AC Services Christmas 2017 Opening Times
Here are AC Services Christmas 2017 opening times:
- Thursday 21st December – normal opening hours – 8.30 a.m. to 5.15 p.m.
- Friday 22nd December – 8.30 a.m. – 4.30 p.m.
- Saturday 23rd December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Sunday 24th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Monday 25th December – office closed
- Tuesday 26th December – office closed (can’t face any more turkey)
- Wednesday 27th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
- Thursday 28th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
- Friday 29th December – office open 8.30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (engineers available)
- Saturday 30th December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Sunday 31st December – office closed – Engineer on call for emergencies
- Monday 1st January – office closed.
It’s back to normal working hours on Tuesday 2nd January.
If you have an emergency with your appliance telephone 01454 322222 and press the appropriate option so we can help you as quickly as we can. If you have a non-urgent issue, leave a message for when the office is next open.
Leave nothing to chance. We understand that you will have a lot to remember for the festive season but don’t forget to order stock parts and cleaning products.
The last date for guaranteed Christmas delivery for an order to be placed is Wednesday 20th December at 5 p.m. We recommend that you CHECK your stock now, to make sure that you have everything you need.
There is no excuse for not knowing what is happening. The adverts are on the television. The decorations are up in the high street and we’ve just survived Black Friday. Not to mention the start of I’m a Celebrity and the Ashes! Yes, Christmas is just around the corner and here at AC Services (Southern), we are advising all of our customers to pay special attention to their ovens NOW.
From extensive experience, ovens are generally overlooked in the run-up to the big day. Food takes priority: the turkeys have to be ordered, the menus finalised and the staff rotas arranged. So the oven gets forgotten.
However, take time out to check essential items, especially cleaning materials. Order your materials before Christmas and avoid time-consuming manual cleaning and worst case scenario, appliance failure when you need it most. Over Christmas, you need your Rational oven to be performing at its peak.
Order Cleaning Products
Make sure that you have plenty of oven cleaning materials in stock. Most professional ovens, (and Rational Self-Cooking-Centres in particular), have automatic cleaning programs built into their software. When used with the right cleaning materials (which ACS Southern always hold in stock), you get cosmetic and hygienic cleanliness.
Order your approved cleaning products now. As a reminder, we supply all the assistance you need to service and maintain your oven, from Rational Grill Cleaner, Rational Rinse Aid, Rational Oven Cleaning Tablets for the SCC (SelfCooking Center®) range and for those with Care Control, Rational Care Control Tablets and accessories. For a full list of cleaning products, click here.
Also, there is still time for us to come and service your oven. If you haven’t recently had a scheduled service, give us a call and let us come and check that everything is working as it should. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you don’t have time: it doesn’t take long and it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Just imagine the nightmare of the oven packing up over the Christmas period.
There are some simple tasks that can be carried out on a daily basis to ensure optimum performance of Rational ovens. We advise our customers to take note:
- Clean your appliance daily with the relevant Rational oven cleaning products.
- Wipe down the door gasket at least daily with non-abrasive cleaning agents.
- Check the air filter regularly: your appliance will let you know when the air filter needs cleaning.
- Clean the drip tray collector.
- Apply vegetable oil or grease to the inside of the cooking cabinet at regular intervals (every two weeks or so) to prevent corrosion.
Be prepared and make sure your Rational oven is in working order for Christmas service. Call us now and we can talk you through the options available on 01454 322 222 to make sure the Christmas season goes ahead effortlessly.
A question that has often puzzled me is when should preparing for Christmas really start? If we were in the USA then we would already be in the throes of Happy Holidays marketing. But in the UK there is the automatic groan when the first Christmas advert appears. Or the C-word is mentioned at a networking meeting.
An enforced watching of daytime television last week, revealed that already it is not only DFS encouraging you to order now in time for Christmas, but there is an advert for Christmas 2018. Clearly it is never too early to start planning!
All families and most businesses have traditions around Christmas and New Year. Whether that is the day off for Mum with Christmas dinner in a restaurant or the Boxing Day walk and trip to the pub.
For businesses it’s party season. Or the insistence that Christmas Eve is a half day even though no work is done. Of course this year as the 24th is a Sunday that tradition does not apply!
In some ways the Americans are right. The last week of December and turn of the year is all about partying, feasting and holidaying. Of course the early Christian Romans beat the Americans to it when they chose the 25th December as the day to celebrate. As this was the time of the pagan revelry of Saturnalia and the festival of Sol Invicta (the Unconquered Sun), it was an easy transfer.
So what’s this to do with Rational, Frima and AC Services?
Sol Invicta celebrated that the winter solstice had passed. By 25th December, it is usually possible to see the days once again drawing out. By January 1st it is clear this is happening, so we can look forward to future harvests and eat and drink what we have.
AC Services Southern has fallen into the tradition of highlighting to owners of Rational ovens and Frima vario-cooking centres that early October is the time to prepare for the feasting season before it’s too late. Whether that’s because the autumn equinox has passed and the days are clearly shorter, we don’t know!
But now is the time to plan to have your ovens serviced to avoid disasters on the big days. Remember, remember preventative maintenance is almost always cheaper than breakdown catering disaster.
Prepare for Celebrations, Act Now
So there is no better time to book a service for your Rational oven in time for Christmas! Why not also order your cleaning products now and avoid the impending price increases?
AC Services (Southern) are more than happy to help. We offer a range of packages to suit any budget for service. Our aim is to help you take some of the stress out of December. If you own a Rational oven in South, South West England and South Wales, we are the local cost effective provider of all your Rational oven and Frima vario-cooking centre service needs.
So, if you’re preparing for Christmas, please talk to one of the team on 01454 322222.
Clients often ask AC Services Southern why we recommend a full annual service on their Rational appliances. Surely regular cleaning and standard maintenance practices are enough to maintain the performance of the ovens?
The truth is that however much and however meticulously you clean your oven, like your own car, there is still the need for a regular Rational service to optimise or replace the parts which wear.
So for the diligent as well as those absent-minded oven owners out there, we have a solution. We have been using a new system since April. We now log when ovens are serviced and sending a timely reminder when the next service is due.
At AC Services we like to give back to our loyal customers so read on to see how you can SAVE £10 on online orders. We are the Rational Service Partner for South West England and South Wales. Our team of engineers only repair and maintain Rational ovens and Frima Vario Cooking Centres. That places us in the very safe position of knowing exactly what we are looking for and what we are doing.
Our engineers have over 40 years’ experience between them and as we only work on two pieces of equipment, all the engineers have a van full of Rational original parts. What this means is that in the majority of cases (more than 95%), our engineers will have any parts that may be required so we will be able to quote you the price and fit them there and then, if given the go ahead.
So what happens in a service and how long does it take? Ideally, our engineers will spend at least 1½ hours and often two hours fully checking the appliance. Why so long? Check out the key points on our service checklist.
- Door function tests
- Interior cabinet tests
- Control panel function check
- Exhaust/vent hood function test/commissioning
- Electrical safety test
- Water-drain function test
- Steam generator electrical components
- Gas specific parts
- Gas analysis
- Software update
The second question is cost. Is it cost effective in the long term?
The cost of a full Rational service carried out by one of our fully qualified Rational Engineers starts from £165 plus VAT (depending on age and size of the oven) plus the cost of any parts required, which are discussed and costed before fitting. Any extra hours are charged at £44 plus VAT, in increments of 15 minutes.
A breakdown or repair callout costs £121 plus VAT inclusive of the callout and one hour’s labour, with further labour charged at £44 per hour in increments of 15 minutes. For those who feel this is too much of a layout, just add up the costs of loss of business, of reputation, of loyal customers and of the profit margin should you be unable to use your oven to provide food for customers.
Finally, we love offering our customers discounts. So save £10 per shop on our range of Rational Cleaning, Rinse and Care Tablets for the relevant ovens and Rational Grill Cleaner using the code JUL10 in our on-line store before 12th August 2017.
Sometimes we have to go above and beyond the call of duty and for Kevin, a senior engineer at AC Services (Southern), a passing enquiry saw him catching a flight to Barcelona and spending a night on a luxury yacht.
The story unravelled a week before the Bank Holiday weekend in March, when MD Helen Hagger took one of the company vans home. A neighbour expressed an interest in the logo on the van and when Helen explained that the company was the service partner for Rational for South West England, the neighbour became even more interested. Lee Marshall is head chef on a 60m private yacht . He is familiar with Rational ovens as he was having problems with the 6-grid Rational cook station on board the yacht.
According to Lee, “whilst cruising from the Seychelles to Italy the oven decided enough was enough and stopped working. I had contacted Rational international but they were unable to help as I couldn’t access the service area of the oven. On my return to the UK, I was informed that the Italian engineers (Rational) wouldn’t attempt to service/fix the oven unless we pulled it out of the galley and on to the hard stuff, which is something that wasn’t going to happen as it weighs a ton!”
The upshot of the conversation was that Lee asked Helen if she could help find out what was wrong with the on-board oven. And the logistics of solving the problem on a floating boat somewhere off the coast of Italy began! Being Bank Holiday, there were few engineers available at such short notice for a foreign trip. But when he mentioned that the yacht would be travelling to Barcelona the following week, a resolution became more likely.
USB and Passports
Helen provided Lee with a Rational usb stick to download the HACCP and service data. This would give him a pointer as to what was wrong with the oven. Lee rang in on the Monday morning and engineer Jon talked him through how to download the data.
It became apparent that a physical diagnosis was required so Helen asked both senior engineers if either of them would like to go to Italy or Spain. Despite the lack of a passport, Kev volunteered. The essential passport was fasttracked a few days later and in the meantime, Kev liaised closely with Lee.
With Helen away on holiday and with a limited phone signal, the onus was on Kev to solve the problem. On her return, Lee was still adamant that he wanted AC Services to sort out the oven, despite Rational service partners being available in both Italy and Spain. Helen’s return to work on Tuesday saw estimates of the cost of the repair including Kev flying to Barcelona. The captain of the yacht gave the go-ahead, the flights were booked and all the parts required were sourced and packed.
Fast Track Service
By Friday morning, the oven was under repair, with on-board engineers helping Kev to get the oven out to gain access to the left hand side panel. The problem was quickly and efficiently solved. By lunchtime, Kev was finished and free to take a look around the yacht and a browse around Barcelona. He even had time to take in some rays on the beach before he flew back the next day.
Lee is now delighted with his fully operational Rational oven. “Helen was very positive and after she contacted the office I was put in touch with Kevin, one of the engineers. He asked all the right questions to ascertain the fault and what he might need to fix the problem. I highly recommend the services of AC Services Southern and will undoubtedly use them again.”
There has been plenty of speculation in the media recently about schools. Labour has announced an ambitious plan to put VAT on private school fees and use the money to fund free meals for all primary school children.
No doubt this is a backlash against Theresa May’s plan to bring back grammar schools but it has inevitably caused some disagreement.
According to the National Association of Head Teachers, school budgets are currently “at breaking point”. Some schools, faced with their first real-terms spending cuts in decades, are making staff redundant. There are more pupils to every class and some subjects are being scrapped.
So parents are understandably a bit sceptical about Labour blowing £1.5 billion on lunches.
New Build Schools
However, the government has already pledged to build more schools, among them 140 new free schools which are destined to create a further 70,000 new places. This comes on the back of the pledge to create more grammar schools. The budget allocated for the changes is £500 million. But existing schools may require a lot more to bring themselves up to the standard of the new ones.
Teaching unions have said that although £216 million has been set aside in maintenance and refurbishment grants, as much as £6.7 billion is needed to return all school buildings to a good condition.
The government’s £0.5B package is also earmarked for public transport costs or minibuses for children from poorer families to go to grammar schools that are between two and fifteen miles from their homes.
School Meals Investment
All government-funded schools must offer free school meals to every pupil in reception, year 1 and year 2 and the funding is and will continue to be £2.30 per meal.
For kitchens, this money can go further with a bit of imagination and the right appliance for the cooking. When buying capital items, it is always good to consider all costs not just the ticket price of the oven. A reliable and well-known model such as the Rational oven range cuts down on maintenance and enhances performance. With a maintenance plan with AC Services (Southern), schools can be assured of immediate service should anything go wrong, and a routine service on a regular basis.
There are other ways of making the money go further. Create more exciting recipes and cook from scratch using healthy ingredients such as vegetables. Reduce wastage by investing in an oven that can keep food at the correct temperature throughout the meal serving times.
There is no way of predicting the future of the educational system, but if you are involved in school meals, then at least preempt any proposed changes and make sure that you are equipped with the most appropriate and up-to-date kitchen knowledge.
Call the team at AC Services to see how we can service and maintain your Rational and Frima equipment economically on 01454 322 222.
You won’t find fast food or fruit machines and there isn’t a coffee chain of any denomination anywhere in sight. Instead, you will find home cooked meals served in a RIBA award-winning building that is light years away from traditional service stations.
Gloucester Services is the newest addition to the Westmorland Family of businesses. It is also behind the hugely successful Tebay Services in Cumbria, which brought locally-sourced produce to the M6 in 1972. The Westmorland Farm Shop opened in 2003 and in 2015, Gloucester Services was opened officially by HRH Prince Charles. The ethos is simple: the produce is local, seasonal and the food is home-cooked.
Billing itself as a farm shop and kitchen, the services rely on its kitchen appliances and for help and assistance 24/7, the management employs AC Services (Southern). “We chose AC Services as it is a local company with fair and reasonable pricing and it was highly recommended,” comments a spokesperson from Gloucester Services. “Our values lie in customer service and AC Services are prompt and highly efficient.”
Gloucester Services operates a 24-hour quick kitchen offering stews, pies, soups and salads plus sandwiches and cakes and fair trade tea and coffee to take away. The sit-down and takeaway meal range includes homemade soups, hot meals, a healthy deli counter and salad bar, home baked cakes plus fair trade tea and coffee and freshly squeezed fruit juice.
The Westmorland family is renowned as a food business. And Gloucestershire and its neighbouring counties offer quality and an abundance of their food produce. All food served in the Kitchen is made fresh on site every day. The lamb and beef come from surrounding farms, chicken and eggs from local producers and plentiful regional seasonal produce. Weary travellers on the way to the southwest are treated to a service station with the addition of an old-fashioned butcher. They are greeted by meat on the bone hanging for three weeks and traditional cuts of meat alongside seasonal specialities like sweetbreads and game.
Visually, the services are unrivalled which adds even more attraction to the millions of motorists who visit every year. Two huge tree trunks cut from the neighbouring Forest of Dean are suspended from the ceiling in the entrance of the building, which is clad in Cotswold stone.
The roof is covered in grass, giving it an architectural uniqueness that has resulted in the venue receiving many awards and achieving a BREAM Excellence category.
The 2016 RIBA Award judges said: ‘Motorway services are not supposed to be architecturally meritorious…to that end Gloucester Services is a glorious failure and most definitely provides a destination that serves a grateful public who may, or may not, be just passing. This is building that reinvents and reinvigorates the type.”
Helen Hagger MD at AC Services is delighted with the success of Gloucester Services. “The family ethos at Westmorland echoes our own values. We are passionate about serving the local community and are proud to be part of the team chosen by Gloucester Services to deliver excellence in all aspects of serving the public.”