When Daniel McDouall came to Australia from New Zealand in 2005, the (then) 20-something said he was ready to conquer the world. While world domination is some years off, he’s certainly well on the way with his innovative business, Squizify, which takes the guesswork out of food safety.
McDouall has been in the food industry for nearly two decades, initially making his mark in the quick service restaurant (QSR) arena as the owner of several Red Rooster franchises. McDouall says his experiences working in the QSR sector led him to realise there was an opportunity to remove the hassle involved in keeping up to date with compliance and safety procedures.
While technology has been a part of hospitality businesses via point of sales and logistics for some time, McDouall says he realised there were other ways tech could help streamline business processes.
“You come across opportunities where tech can help evolve a business – with rostering and marketing.”
Yet, according to McDouall, it was an untapped market with limited solutions when it came to food and safety.
“85 per cent of businesses still use paper and pen. It’s a system fraught with danger,” he says. “It’s the old tick and flick process,” he laments.
Understanding the food safety and compliance problems
McDouall knew there had to be a better way. A mistake in maintaining compliance across food safety could be costly in more ways than one. Reputations could be damaged, and the health and safety of customers be put at stake.
“If one store did something wrong, the whole franchise would suffer,” he explains.
“The type of people that work in QSR are usually 15, 16, 17-year-olds. They don’t have many priorities when it comes to ensuring the safety and compliance of your business – so it becomes a challenge. We designed and built a system that does all the hard work. There are many balls to juggle in quick service, and it takes a multi-skilled person to do that well. Compliance is just one of those factors that need to be addressed.”
Removing human error from food safety
“We identified that it wasn’t too arduous to capture a digital solution that would capture critical tasks in the realm I had restaurants in,” he says. “But it’s not just about digitising. It’s taking it to the next phase where it just doesn’t tick a box. It takes it to the next level.”
Realising a significant market opportunity, McDouall began to float his idea with industry stakeholders.
“It became pretty evident there is a big market opportunity. We spoke to a lot of stakeholders. We realised we have traction; there are legs – we validated it with a few franchise brands. We built out the product and got a commitment from brands – which gave us the impetus to put resources behind it.”
Simplifying food safety and compliance
McDouall says it took around nine months to build out the initial solution.
“Then it became evident other brands were interested in what we were doing, and the critical challenge and problem were not just at an operational level, but the risk profile was tremendous – if one store did something wrong, the whole network would suffer. It could damage a brand in a huge way,” he explains.
McDouall sees Squizify as almost an insurance policy for restaurant owners.
“You can automate your entire food safety workflow … Monitor all the key food safety metrics in your business. It can tell you straight away if a fridge is working properly, it can provide detailed records, train staff, deliver reports.”
McDouall says utilising Squizify, business owners can have the comfort of knowing that even if they aren’t at work in their restaurant, everything is getting done.
“We remove human error and provide detailed understanding around doing the right thing,” he says.
Putting safety first in a pandemic world
The pandemic has really shone a light on food safety, hygiene and compliance across the hospitality space. McDouall says Squizify takes the uncertainty out of staying compliant, giving real-time food safety visibility and control.
“Pre-COVID, we were talking about all the stuff around personal hygiene and COVID has really shone a spotlight on our solution … The pandemic has severely impacted the food industry,” says McDouall. “[But] food is a resilient business to be in. People have to eat.”
Still, McDouall believes there will be winners and losers that come out of the pandemic, and he considers restaurants that adopt Squizify will have the ability to pivot quickly.
“Given the uncertainty around lockdowns and COVID, I think brands that can move quickly, that are nimble, and can make changes on the fly will be ones that do win the trust of the customers moving forward, and ultimately are the ones that will win more business,” he shares.
McDouall says Squizify improves visibility across a business, allowing restaurant owners to see small trends and issues and deal with them before they become problems down the line.
He describes Squizify as a data company first, and a food safety and compliance solution second.
“We enable small food businesses to capture key market datasets when it comes to food safety, on a regular basis. We believe that if you’re capturing and monitoring what matters most in your business, you will see these issues arise in advance and be able to deal with them more often.
“We’re an ‘insurance policy’, so to speak, helping businesses reduce their risk, whilst simultaneously improving their stores’ profitability and operational excellence.”
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