Tir a Mor Safeguards its 5-Star food hygiene rating with Checkit
Checkit helps fish & chips shop owner remove any uncertainty over daily compliance tasks and eliminate time consuming hygiene paperwork from kitchen processes.
Profile: Tir a Mor
Tir a Mor is a fish & chips shop situated in the heart of the historic market town of Llanrwst, North Wales, at the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Open seven days a week, Tir a Mor caters for local customers as well as tourists in its takeaway shop and adjoining 40-seater restaurant. Due to high demand, the capacity of the restaurant is expanding to provide seating for 90 customers. Tir a Mor employs 12 people, but the number is set to grow once the expanded restaurant is opened.
Tir a Mor is proud of its five-star hygiene rating and is keen to maintain that status. When planning the expansion of the restaurant, owner Wyn Williams wanted to optimise the way crucial food safety and hygiene tasks were managed. Getting rid of paper-based checklists was the first step.
“We wanted to be a fish & chips shop that is completely paperless. Paper records are time consuming to fill and can get lost or dirty in the kitchen. What’s more, restaurants can lose their hygiene rating for mistakes in the records, not necessarily food safety failings, so it is a big risk,” Wyn says.
“We installed Checkit in March and it has completely changed the way we run things for the better.”
No missed checks
For Wyn, one of the main problems with the paper-based way of managing compliance was the lack of real-time visibility over the daily tasks. In a busy shop, it was often challenging to make sure that staff completed the crucial compliance tasks on schedule.
“With the paper system, you can cheat and do whatever you want. Staff can forget to perform the checks and then fill in the records the next day. With Checkit you don’t have the option to cheat, you have to be honest.”
Once staff complete the jobs using the Checkit handset, Wyn checks the digital records to see if the work has actually been done.
“Staff know they have to do the jobs before they log in the results. I can see when a job is ticked off, so I can go check if it has actually been done and if I find out it hasn’t, staff will be retrained or disciplined. On the other hand, if they don’t fill in the handset by a set time, I will be notified and know for a fact that the jobs have not been done, and can address this.”
“It is important that there is no room for error or false records. For example, if staff are taking a temperature measurement and the result is outside the acceptable parameters, the system advises what action should be taken to ensure food is always safe.”
Wyn works in the shop most days, but the new system allows him to stay on top of things also during his days off.
“When I’m away, I get an email alert if something is wrong and can ring the shop and make sure that things are corrected straight away. If I’m not sure about something, I can just log onto the Cloud to check what’s been going on.“
“From the management point of view, Checkit saves a lot of time. Before this, I had to spend a lot of time managing the paperwork, for example copying the paper checklists before going on holiday. If I didn’t leave enough copies of the check lists, the records might not get filled in and compliance could be compromised.”
“However, to me, more important than the time saved, is the fact that we can now be sure that we are working safely. We are now running the business the way it should be done.”
Maintaining a five-star rating
In Wales, the display of hygiene ratings has been mandatory since 2013. The rating needs to be displayed on the door of the restaurant as well as any promotional material, such as takeaway menus. At Tir a Mor, Wyn has noticed that customers, especially tourists, often check out the hygiene rating before coming in.
“Having the best possible rating is absolutely paramount. I would be devastated if we didn’t get a five-star rating. We haven’t had an EHO visit since installing Checkit, but now I am actually really looking forward to it.”
The Checkit Memo handset comes pre-installed with checklists that help businesses comply with the Food Safety Association’s (FSA) Safer Food Better Business guidelines. However, due to the way Tir a Mor operates as both a restaurant and a takeaway, Wyn wanted to tailor the lists to include additional tasks.
“We had the checklists adapted to our business needs from the beginning. Understanding the technology was easy because Checkit took this into account when introducing us to it, making us feel at ease with it.
“Before selecting Checkit, we looked at various systems but they were all very expensive and had features I simply did not need. Checkit does exactly what we want and is very affordable. The whole system works brilliantly for our business.”