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Due Diligence and Due Care in the Restaurant Business

Due Diligence and Due Care are words  generally associated with investing, contracts, and lately network security.  In my last position working in custom application development and  cyber security those terms were defined as:

Due Diligence: Identifying threats and risks.
Due Care: Acting upon identified threats to mitigate risks.
I believe that the hospitality industry better adopt Due Diligence and Due Care as management concepts that we fully embrace and implement into our business processes.
In the context of restaurant management, I look at Due Diligence as doing what it takes to serve safe food in a safe environment.  I didn’t say delicious food I said safe food.  Meaning that we use HACCP principles to ensure that the food products that we are serving have been delivered, stored, and prepared safely.
Most restaurants today are, or should be, conducting daily inspections of their facilities paying attention for critical food safety violations.  Making sure food is stored safely, chemicals are stored away from food, temperature discipline is maintained both in cooling and heating.  We aren’t introducing foreign contaminants into the food preparation areas.
By following best practices and inspecting daily, we are performing our Due Diligence in providing safe food for our customers.  Due Diligence is only half of the battle, Due Care is the other half.
Due Care procedures are the processes that you have in place for when you identify an issue.  The key to Due Care is consistent and documented application of the process.
You may be familiar with the phrase “It’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up” that gets you into trouble.  That is especially true when you are doing your Due Diligence, conducting a pre-shift inspection, and you identify an issue but then you don’t correct the issue safely.
An example might be that you fill out a temperature log for a walk-in refrigerator, and you record a 65-degree temperature.  The person completing the temperature log doesn’t do anything to fix the issue, they just serve the food and they get a lot of people sick.
We as a nation are very intolerant of companies that had enough forethought to identify a critical area on an inspection but then not have a plan to fix the issue when they identified it.  We find that unacceptable, and for good reason, you wouldn’t want to fly in a plane where the pilot knew it was missing a wing but decided to take-off.
In the above example, we would hold the company responsible for, not training their inspector well enough to know that a 65-degree walk-in is very bad.  We would also hold them responsible for, not having a well-documented procedure to deal with the issue.
Look at your real-world experience, we for the most part understand when people make mistakes or accidents happen.  We get furious and litigious when mistakes are made and the people responsible are clueless when they should have known better.  We get even with businesses that profit while their customers get hurt.
As hospitality professionals, we have to make sure that our organizations, size doesn’t matter, have well documented Due Diligence and Due care processes in place.  More importantly we have to train, consistently follow, and document those processes in their application.  It is when we consistently apply our processes that we have a chance of protecting our brand and our businesses when we make a mistake.
My name is Tommy Yionoulis, and I’m a restaurant guy and a software guy.  I’m one of the founders of OpsAnalitica; you can learn more about our company at www.opsanalitica.com.

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I've been in the restaurant industry for most of my adult life. I have a BSBA from University of Denver Hotel Restaurant school and an MBA from the same. When I wasn't working in restaurants I was either doing stand-up comedy, for 10 years, or large enterprise software consulting. I'm currently the Managing Director of OpsAnalitica and our Inspector platform was originally conceived when I worked for one of the largest sandwich franchisors in the country. You can reach out to me through LinkedIn.

4 Comments Published

by Tommy Yionoulis , post on 7 February 2015 | Reply

To further illustrate my point and provide a better real world example of Due Diligence and Due Care, I got the paragraph below out of an article in the Food Poisining Bulletin in regards to a lawsuit being filed by a patron of a restaurant who got salmonella poisining. The beginning of the paragraph through cross contamination is Due Diligence and implement a system I believe is the start of Due Care.

The restaurant breached its duty to properly train and supervise workers and other employees; failed to safely produce, store and transport its food products; failed to maintain sanitary conditions during and after food preparation; failed to prevent cross-contamination; failed to implement and supervise a system for assuring safe production and handling of its food products and failed to properly test its products,

http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-sickened-300-diners-at-las-vegas-firefly-in-2013/

by Rick Van Warner , post on 9 February 2015 | Reply

Great points, especially the delineation between knowing what to look for and what then to do about it. Having helped manage crises for restaurant chains for about two decades, it’s ignoring the ‘due care’ step that most often gets brands into trouble, particularly when the media or health department comes calling. Telling a reporter or inspector what you did regarding an issue is easily dismissed as damage control or “spin.” Showing either the documentation that backs up what your saying is what really matters if you find your restaurant or brand with its back up against the wall.

by OpsAnalitica , post on 10 February 2015 | Reply

Thanks for your comments Rick!

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