Restaurant Risk Managers Cooking up Hot Workers' Comp Technology
It's "intriguing," says Greg Benefield, how "little bits and pieces" of cutting-edge technology are working their way into how risk managers protect their employers' workers and bottom lines.
Benefield is the Nashville, Tenn.-based food and beverage practice leader for the global broker Willis.
He says that surveillance cameras, for instance, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. New systems can cost $6,000 to $20,000 per location, but that capital expenditure could lead to big savings if it prevents a loss on even one slip-and-fall, which could end up running $50,000 on the low end.
Advances are also being made to cleaning agents and other chemical compounds.
"We're putting better products out to better combat losses on the pre-loss standpoint," Benefield says.
State-of-the-art technology can also come in handy when protecting the brand. New point-of-sale computers and cash registers can help train employees in how to deal with customers. With some of these systems, a manager in corporate headquarters can pull up on their own computer monitor the POS screen of an employee who is in the middle of a transaction, along with the audio from the scene.
Restaurant risk managers are techie in other ways too.
"Technology continues to improve the means with which they can communicate with senior management," says Benefield, who calls his clients a "very analytical group" who use "more meaningful reports" to improve morale, costs and productivity for managers throughout the chain.
"Significant savings abound," the broker says, when the effort catches on at the top.
Risk managers from smaller restaurant companies and franchisee operations might not have the capital to access such technology. These companies probably don't even have a risk manager. But that doesn't mean that they aren't leveraging what they do have access to in order to lower costs and reduce claims frequency.
Says Brad Frawley, a producer with MJ Insurance in Indianapolis, an Assurex Global Partner, company management can get very interested in the loss-control services he offers when they operate even as few as 15 to 20 franchise locations. They might even have a full-time chief financial officer or risk manager on the task. And the larger the company and the more locations it operates, the more interested those executives become in managing losses.
They take advantage of services Frawley can provide, such a specialized Web site through which they can access thousands of documents, OSHA logs, chat rooms, a message board and other tools.
"They're paying several hundred thousands in insurance, so they're sophisticated," he says.
MATTHEW BRODSKY is senior editor/Web editor of Risk & Insurance®.
April 15, 2008
Copyright 2008© LRP Publications