An expert details why insurance companies loathe traditional oil management tactics.

When employees are handling hot oil, a restaurant is taking on a risk. The same is true of letting
grease build up within the restaurant’s hood system—the more grease that accumulates, the
more risk is being posed to employees, the restaurant’s customers, and the building itself.
Just ask Pete McDonnell, president of Independent Insurance Review, LLC in Indianapolis, who
has spent over 30 years underwriting insurance policies in the restaurant industry. That
experience means McDonnell has seen all of the things that can go wrong when oil isn’t
properly disposed of, or hoods aren’t regularly cleaned.

“Something unique about being an insurance consultant is that you work so closely with a large
number of business owners that you see things that others don’t,” McDonnell says. “We see the
degree of what claims can do to people and to a business. When a location burns down, for
example, it’s not just that it costs money to rebuild the location. That’s also 30 or more
employees who are suddenly out of work for 3 to 4 months during the rebuild.”

McDonnell was recently introduced to new technology that he believes will revolutionize the
industry and help Operators lower insurance costs. In fact, it already is doing so: Restaurant
Technologies’ respective Total Oil Management and AutoMist systems offer automated
solutions to two different—but connected—challenges that face the foodservice industry.
According to McDonnell, restaurants that install these systems may be eligible for lower
commercial insurance premiums.

Total Oil Management automates just about everything for operators: two tanks are installed in
the back of a restaurant kitchen, a fresh oil and waste oil tank, and plumbed directly to the fryers
where oil travels and fills a deep fryer at the push of a button. When oil is in need of being
changed, the system automatically sends the old oil out to the waste tank. Both tanks are
regularly filled and drained by Restaurant Technologies employees via a fill box on the exterior
of the restaurant; never needing to enter the restaurant. The list of liability and workers
compensation exposures being avoided during this process is long, says McDonnell.
“Think about what insurance claims are all about when it comes to commercial insurance,”
McDonnell says, “It’s about risk management. Restaurant Technologies’ systems help eliminate
the human element in multiple steps throughout the process of handling hot oil.”

Further eliminating risk from restaurants is AutoMist, a specialized hood and flue cleaning spray
that automatically cleans the kitchen exhaust system on a daily basis, helping eliminate the risk
of a grease fire. The best part? An employee never needs to be involved, nor does an outside
hood cleaning team that will need access to the restaurant late at night—again, liability and
workers compensation exposures are being eliminated in the process.

Restaurants that have installed both systems can save big money, McDonnell says. He and his
team are assisting restaurant owners who have installed the systems to bring that information to
the attention of their insurance carriers who may be willing to cut insurance premiums by up to
20 percent or more, for those restaurants that install both Total Oil Management and AutoMist.
Tina Swanson, vice president of sales at Restaurant Technologies, mentions that on top of the
insurance savings, both Total Oil Management and AutoMist help make restaurants not only
safer, but also a better place for employees to work by eliminating some of the least favorable
jobs in restaurant kitchens. So while lower premiums will appeal to all operators, so too will the
opportunity to make their restaurant an employer of choice.

“The savings here are very real,” Swanson says. “But one thing that I don’t want to get lost in
the shuffle is how these solutions help take some of the worst jobs in a restaurant and eliminate
them completely. Suddenly your employees are happier to come to work, and with the tight
labor market that we’re currently experiencing, it’s hard to put a price tag on that.”

For more information on adding AutoMist and Total Oil Management to your kitchen, visit
the Restaurant Technologies website.

By Charlie Pogacar

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