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Being an SQF Consultant - Feasts & Famine

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#1 SQFconsultant

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 07:00 PM

I've been living an SQF life now for about 12 years, first as one of the first SQF Auditors in the US and then I changed hats and went into SQF Consulting and we've been running our consulting business for the past eight years.

 

Our primary work is helping food, food logistic and food packaging company to develop entire SQF documentation systems and many times that also means working with companies that don't have even a basic food safety management system - so some projects take a bit longer than our average 3-4 weeks. 

 

We are then avaiable thru our eConsultant program to help the companies during their implementation phase.

 

We've gotten to work with some really terrrific people and companies and have been involved in complete turn-arounds, long term (from the ground up) assignments of 4-5 months at a time on-site and also provide companies with specialized consulting on Keto, Non-GMO and Gluten-Free - plus some other areas where we never thought we would go, but did after extensive research.

 

Now, being an SQF consultant and running your own business can be exciting and sometimes terrifying at the same time.  We do quite a bit of non-touch work, meaning the entire development from start to finish is done entirely off-site at my office without me ever stepping inside the company - this is done via video, emails, phone calls, DropBox, etc. 

 

In the beginning 100% of our work as on-site and we normally had a full development to handle about every 45 days at somewhere between $20,000 and $35,000 depending on complexity, size of company, SKU's, how good or how bad things were, etc.

 

Fast forward years and we handle a development project about every 6 months, with other consulting work normally, but not allways filling in the gaps. And interestingly enough, as we have progressed we actually found ways to streamline our work and this resulted in lower pricing to our clients.... because there is a LOT less stress on a consultant when you don't have to spend 24 hour days traveling, dealing with dirty hotel rooms, bad food and the grind of travel in general.

 

I've always looked at this work as being a God send, I am a very good SQF Consultant, we size things up quickly and always exceed our clients expectations -

 

But, there is a problem that I have been grappling with for the past year and it has to do with inconsistent income.

 

It's wonderful to get bank wires for $25,000 at a time - however, unless you have these bank wires coming in on a consistent basis, you get into a situation of what many call in this industry - Feast and Famine!

 

We can go upwards of 6 months without a development contract -- that means that last bank wire needs to cover that 6-8 months with a buffer.

 

Feasting is great when there is money in the bank - Famine is bad, when there is little in the bank.

 

This leads me to ask a question here ---

 

Is there such as thing as long term contract SQF consulting work available, that would provide consistant monthly income - with or without benefits.

 

I am so very tired of the roller-coaster world of consulting.

 

We are very much interested in learning if this is a possibility that can be done from our home-office with either zero or just a few flights here and there.

 

If anyone out there that has read thus far is with a company (or owns a company)  that could use an excellent SQF Consultant (I can do other things too) on a long-term basis - please let me know.

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

 


Warm regards,

 

 

Glenn Oster

Glenn Oster Consulting, LLC

 

SQF On-Site System Development & Implementation Consultant

You can DIY or Bring in the Professionals 

 

Small to Mid-Size Food, Food Packaging & Food Logistic/Storage 

SQF GAP Analysis of Operational & Capital Needs

Internal Auditor Training Program / United States of America, Canada & Centro America

772.646.4115 USA // glenn@glennosterconsulting.com

Boquete, Panama & Melbourne, Florida USA

www.GlennOsterConsulting.com

 

 

Unlimited Internal Auditor Training...

https://bit.ly/2MdMHxh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#2 Ryan M.

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 11:26 PM

I can empathize...been in your shoes, but only did it part-time while I had a full-time position.  It really sounds like you are ready to go into a permanent quality / food safety position at a company.  Of course, the type of work has their own pros and cons; something you'll have to weigh out.  There are a lot of permanent positions in quality / food safety at companies all over the globe.

 

I have never heard of a company that is in need or uses a long term consultant for quality or food safety; they generally fill the need / gap with a new position.  

 

Best of luck with whatever you decide.



#3 Scott E

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 02:37 PM

I completely understand.  The tough part about being a good consultant is if you do your job correctly, you work yourself out of work.  You can't just give a client an audit book, you have to teach them food safety and they need to know it (although I have helped a few clients that have been scammed by consultants that did).  Food safety is not a program and or a book, it is a culture.  I currently have a full time job as Quality Manager at an SQF facility, and have a consulting business on the side.  I do alot of Global GAP consulting work for growers.  You can usually tell right away if a grower is going to learn and not need you the next year.  I have been lucky to have a few clients that just don't want to deal with certification and I get to go back annually which gives a little stability.  But for most, its a one and done. 

 

What I try and tell clients is "whether you use me (I want you to) or someone else, you really should not do your own annual review, it helps to have an outside set of eyes".  This sometimes gives me a couple days back each year, and I feel it is a responsible way to help the client.

 

I am working at becoming an auditor so that I can consult for companies, and audit others through a CB.  My plans for retirement.  

 

I have heard of many that leave industry to consult or audit, not to many that go the other way.



#4 Timwoodbag

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Posted 10 June 2019 - 07:57 PM

As a SQF Practitioner, I would love if we had a recurring visit from a consultant to help with our growth, changes in code, adding HACCP plans etc.  But that's not in the budget.  

 

Our company was pretty clueless before our consultant, and she really had a blank slate to start with.  If she convinced us at the start that we should have her come in yearly, we might have bit, but several years in now we have a good grasp on expectations of the system.  

 

Might feel sleazy but getting new companies might be your best bet at regular recurring customers, tell them it is highly recommended that you come back a month before the audit next year to review.  Maybe your post set-up approach is too nice, with the virtual e-consultant etc.  



#5 Scott E

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 01:28 PM

I've spent most of my time as a Quality Manager at a small food manufacturing facility.  I just recently changed companies to another small group.  I do the consulting on the side.  I feel I have a good grasp on what is required for our SQF system, but I am also smart enough to understand I can't audit my own system.  I always insisted on bringing in an outside consultant once a year roughly 60 days before my audit to do our annual review.  It would cost 2K plus travel expenses for 2 days.  I understand budgets, but this was a small group without the ability to have another individual to audit the system.  Really it is the smaller companies that should need this help.  

 

Budget constraints are normal for all QA Managers to have to deal with.  At the end of the day though, Quality needs to direct the ship.  It is an uphill battle.

 

If its not in the budget you need to find an alternative.  There are plenty of consultants that will work remotely to save costs (I think Glen would agree with this).  



#6 SQFconsultant

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 03:22 PM

I can empathize...been in your shoes, but only did it part-time while I had a full-time position.  It really sounds like you are ready to go into a permanent quality / food safety position at a company.  Of course, the type of work has their own pros and cons; something you'll have to weigh out.  There are a lot of permanent positions in quality / food safety at companies all over the globe.

 

I have never heard of a company that is in need or uses a long term consultant for quality or food safety; they generally fill the need / gap with a new position.  

 

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

Thanks Ryan, as it turns out we have several new development projects coming in - we are in the process of re-defining our development package, lowering the cost of the development to the client and then building in a yearly review and on-going eConsultant for sustainability. We really needed to put our thinking caps and re-invent a bit.  Appreciate your comments.


Warm regards,

 

 

Glenn Oster

Glenn Oster Consulting, LLC

 

SQF On-Site System Development & Implementation Consultant

You can DIY or Bring in the Professionals 

 

Small to Mid-Size Food, Food Packaging & Food Logistic/Storage 

SQF GAP Analysis of Operational & Capital Needs

Internal Auditor Training Program / United States of America, Canada & Centro America

772.646.4115 USA // glenn@glennosterconsulting.com

Boquete, Panama & Melbourne, Florida USA

www.GlennOsterConsulting.com

 

 

Unlimited Internal Auditor Training...

https://bit.ly/2MdMHxh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


#7 SQFconsultant

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Posted 11 June 2019 - 03:29 PM

I've spent most of my time as a Quality Manager at a small food manufacturing facility.  I just recently changed companies to another small group.  I do the consulting on the side.  I feel I have a good grasp on what is required for our SQF system, but I am also smart enough to understand I can't audit my own system.  I always insisted on bringing in an outside consultant once a year roughly 60 days before my audit to do our annual review.  It would cost 2K plus travel expenses for 2 days.  I understand budgets, but this was a small group without the ability to have another individual to audit the system.  Really it is the smaller companies that should need this help.  

 

Budget constraints are normal for all QA Managers to have to deal with.  At the end of the day though, Quality needs to direct the ship.  It is an uphill battle.

 

If its not in the budget you need to find an alternative.  There are plenty of consultants that will work remotely to save costs (I think Glen would agree with this).  

Thank you for your comments Scott, you make a good point on the need to have an outside consultants eyes and knowledge come in for several days every day prior to your annual audit.  Many companies think they can do this on their own with their own in house resources. However, the flip side is that companies call us to do these pre-audits because they have tried doing it themselves and missed a lot of things that caused issues - I remember being a Chef with Hilton International and we had a corporate QA inspector come in and he asked how long the 2 foot by 2 foot hole had been in the wall --- we never noticed it, seriously it was hidden behind a hot box train and even when the boxes weren't in front of the hole we missed it completely.  That is one of the reasons for bringing in outside consulting.   Five years ago we did our work 100% on-site... today it is close to 100% off-site, so yes I most certainly agree with your statement,. Thank you again.


Warm regards,

 

 

Glenn Oster

Glenn Oster Consulting, LLC

 

SQF On-Site System Development & Implementation Consultant

You can DIY or Bring in the Professionals 

 

Small to Mid-Size Food, Food Packaging & Food Logistic/Storage 

SQF GAP Analysis of Operational & Capital Needs

Internal Auditor Training Program / United States of America, Canada & Centro America

772.646.4115 USA // glenn@glennosterconsulting.com

Boquete, Panama & Melbourne, Florida USA

www.GlennOsterConsulting.com

 

 

Unlimited Internal Auditor Training...

https://bit.ly/2MdMHxh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 






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