South Cumbria entrepreneur has two reasons to celebrate
Chris Pearson will this spring mark the fifth anniversary of the founding of his own business – Hospitality Audit Services.
He can also raise a glass to the fact that in that time he has seen the amount of work he receives quadruple.
Hospitality Audit Services, which is based in Flookburgh, works internationally with several big names in the hospitality industry.
Outside of the UK, its clients come from as far afield Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and even Monte Carlo.
After being made redundant in 2012, Mr Pearson set up the company to help hotels with tasks, including financial and operational audits, kitchen cost control, menu reviews and meeting health and safety regulations.
He employs five independent consultants and has contracts with The Hotel Collection, Handpicked Hotels, and Hallmark Hotels, as well as several global property management groups.
In the past year the company has worked with 150 hotels months – including the prestigious Fairmont Hotel in Monte Carlo – and has recently received inquiries from far-flung locations like Hawaii and Kuala Lumpur too.
Large hotel chains make financial and operational audits a top priority. He has noticed that few small independent hotels are requesting financial and kitchen audits, and help with stock controls or standard operating procedures.
Mr Pearson said: “Audits are a legal requirement for all public limited companies but crucially, they genuinely help smaller businesses run more smoothly and efficiently too.
“The success we’ve had over the past five years stems from helping other businesses to improve their bottom lines, by advising them on their margins, cash controls, their staffing and resourcing etc.
“It’s a must for all hospitality operators, not just something the big chains should do.”
The looming Brexit discussions concern Mr Pearson.
He said: “Thirty per cent of our turnover comes from hotels’ European offices.
“There are so many questions now and no indication from the government of what’s to come.
“If there are no plans laid out by the government, we can’t plan long-term.
“I’m proud to have built a strong business base, but am looking forward to more clarity about what the future will look like post-Brexit.”
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Expert Chris helps hotels reach their potential
Wednesday 16th July 2014
HE’S the smartly-dressed guest with the false name who has visited 16 countries in under two years staying at over 100 luxury hotels.
But remember the face because hotel auditor Chris Pearson, 54, knows every-thing there is to know about the accommodation business.
Chris runs the Kendal-based Hospitality Audit Services, which he set up two years ago after redun-dancy, with an office on Stramongate.
Large hotel chains now contract him to carry out financial and operational audits of their properties all over the globe.
For Chris, that means running the rule over every facet of their business from behind-the-scenes profit and loss accounts as well as front-of-house service standards, then coming up with a far-reaching report to make things better and more profitable.
Sometimes when he mystery shops, test purchases or carries out integrity tests, Chris goes by the name of Mr Oliver or Mr Knox, checking in to hotels to see if they are living up to their brand standards and customer promises.
Chris, who carries his passport with him at all times, has provided his services to 19 different brands at the last count, from Radisson Marriott to Intercontinental. Before going it alone, Chris was a financial controller at the Prince of Wales in Grasmere – now The Daffodil Hotel – and head of internal audits for Mint Hotels which had seven properties in the UK and one in Amsterdam before its Hilton buy-out.
The father-of-four, from Flookburgh, audits UK hotels from London to Scotland and Europe, having just returned from Paris and Barcelona.
Of the common mistakes made in hotels, Chris says: “There is a tendency to concentrate on getting sales up and paying for gimmicks instead of concentrating on controlling the cost, because it’s as much to do with your profit as it is your sales.
“Turnover isn’t profit and it’s the profit that matters.
“If it’s not improving your profit, what the hell are you doing it for?”
Straight-talking Chris, who spent seven years in London in the heart of the city’s insurance district on Lloyds Avenue, now has sufficient new clients to add an associate hotel auditor who is just back from Washington DC.
Chris said: “I’d like to do a bit more work around here, even though we have lots of work.
“But people could always tap into my experience and I’ll have a sit down and a coffee with anybody.”