Hospitality Consultant Terry Secord on the Value of a Consistent Audit

By August 10, 2017 Blog

Here is a short background on Terry and his history doing all things hospitality, including restaurant auditing:

Terry Secord, a noted Hospitality Consultant, who brings along 30 years of experience in the hospitality industry in senior roles. Starting extensive work in independent full service concepts, QSR and chain restaurants, Terry joined the executive team of The Toronto Sheraton Centre in 1995, where he went on to oversee Total Quality Management, Business Planning, F&B development, Restaurant Operations and Convention Services. He next joined Milestone’s restaurant as a regional partner and also served as the Vice President, Operations, at Cara and SIR Corp. During those years, and as President of his own consulting company, he has been part of leadership development, strategic planning and operational excellence for brands like Alice Fazooli’s, Kelsey’s, Jack Astor’s, Canyon Creek, Harvey’s and the Loose Moose. Most recently, Terry consulted for and held the position of President and CEO of The 3 Brewers/Les 3 Brasseurs Canada. Terry’s current consulting work involves establishing leadership environments that provide brand clarity, culture of dialogue, creating impactful metrics for restaurant audit checklists and “best in class” customer experiences. Terry is a graduate of Ryerson University‘s Hospitality & Tourism Program and currently sits on the school’s industry advisory council. You can find out more about Terry’s background on LinkedIn or contact him directly at tsecord@me.com

Terry Secord joined MeazureUp as an Advisory Board Member. With his years of experience in the restaurant industry, he is providing strategic support & product guidance.

In the white paper, titled ‘the value of a consistent Audit’, Terry shares issues involved in Restaurant Auditing and provides insights on how to address them, emphasizing the need for consistent audits and using auditing apps that make it easy for auditors to coordinate and analyze data in different ways and implement measures to improve restaurant operations and achieve consistency and operational excellence.

The Value of a Consistent Audit

Terry Secord

Introduction

As part of regular operational reviews, I am often very conflicted when the topic of audits and inspections is on the agenda. I love the data and using the information to make an impact on the issues identified but doing them or hearing about the team completing them makes me fall asleep. My conflict is driven by a desire for lasting performance improvement and the need for data to allow for root cause identification before we put actions in place. Once decided, it is critical for the team to monitor and measure. The flip side is the arduous, complex, manual and time consuming process of restaurant operations auditing and doing those long audit checklists, the tedious food and safety inspections without missing any data. I feel very bad for the regional managers and auditors doing them, as many from my past will confirm. Heaven help them, for if I am part of the auditing, I will be bored to tears with how tedious the process can be.

Standard Improvement Procedures

As a former Director of Total Quality Management (TQM) as well as a personal disposition to process improvement, I push teams to follow a typical process improvement procedure like the following:

  • Collect data and conduct analysis to ensure that we are taking on projects or dedicating resources to high impact items. It must be fact driven and we need to get as granular as possible to ensure we can truly remove obstacles, and identify root issues.
  • Only with these root causes established can we consider actions, initiatives or tactics to provide solutions.
  • These actions must be measurable and it must link to larger outcomes of the business success. (i.e. faster turnover times will generate increased sales)
  • Once the measures confirm the actions were successful, standardization and training can proceed. Rollout to the company can start after that.
  • Monitoring and maintenance of the actions is then critical. This also allows for a review of how the team creates action plans. Checking and putting in follow-up programs is key.

Issues of Standard Audits

Teams usually gear up for the push to solve a problem. Management can often arrange resources and people, and engage them for a solution. The trouble for most businesses and restaurant operations in particular, is monitoring, maintenance and timely follow-up. Often audits suffer from several key shortfalls:

  • Auditors are focused on inspection, standards and compliance. They often do very little in terms of training, follow-up and encouragement.
  • Teams can be focused so heavily on the “score”, that they lose focus on why the standards were put in the first place. The audit is a snapshot in time and the  processes that lead to these results are often overlooked.
  • Audits and food and safety inspections take a colossal amount of time, both from the regional team, the auditors and the operations team. Instead of a tool that can be a great resource for root cause identification and establishing measurable performance improvement, it becomes a static number that has poor follow-up or improvement.
  • The manual nature of spreadsheets, printed forms and continual “re-importing” of information leads to mistakes and is cumbersome. It is very time consuming to consolidate the information to see location, regional and company-wide trends. Each level of management wants a different way of looking at the information, causing overlapping of effort (I once asked a question about the data to one of my teams and unknowingly gave them a task that took them all night to put the information together).
  • Inspections have very poor follow-up mechanisms, trend information and ways of holding the correct individuals accountable for rectifying items to standards.
  • Support departments are not held accountable for improvements. Audit results are often left to Operations to fix.
  • Auditors can have wildly different interpretations of standards and scores.

Methods to Enhance Your Current Audit Process

No matter which company it is, and especially in the restaurant business, the balance between getting valuable information and efficient collection of data in the field can be hard. To create an impactful process that allows a company to make fact-based decisions and ensure proper follow up, I suggest the following:

  • Pick a data collection tool that is easy for the auditors to use, easy for your  operations teams to understand, and that allows for one-time inputs.
  • Look at how your company communicates and ensure the audit process allows for easy correspondence, via auto emails or texts instead of this being a secondary step. This will immediately put follow-up items into action.
  • Ensure that the data can then be sliced and diced anyway you want to see, for example, you may want to see the  data in a different way for evaluating specific trends in your restaurant operations over time.
  • Allow for the data to be easily viewed and shared with all departments and key stakeholders. Everyone should know the issues directly so as to enable a better coordination in real time for arriving at a solution.
  • Make it one step to inform, educate and communicate important aspects of the audits to those responsible.
  • Track follow-up items in a timely manner.
  • Include flexibility to add and update your audits without losing historical data. This will be helpful in analyzing trends and performance improvement over longer periods of time. Here, using impactful auditing software solution can prove helpful in providing snapshots making it easy to evaluate and analyze trends in newer ways.

MeazureUp is proud to be a leading, easy to use, is a cloud based solution ensuring operational brand consistency using intelligent automated auditing software for your multi-unit Enterprise. that provides restaurant auditing solutions with the aim to bring about a high level of operational consistency through highly effective data analytics. We have a long list of well known restaurant chains who are already benefiting from our mobile based auditing app in conducting their audits, helping them to improve overall performance and profitability. With MeazureUp, we make it simple as each report from each location is aggregated on a cloud based system making it a one step process that makes it easy to identify drawbacks, analyze and evaluate and implement strategies to enhance performance resulting in greater success for the restaurant chain. To learn more, click here.

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