A few of the biggest challenges of effective operational audits are limiting how many issues you check, deciding what information you need to know, and what information you would like to know. There are so many items in retail stores in today’s day and age and you want everything to be displayed perfectly. You want the store to be clean and have a pleasant atmosphere for customers. You want to make sure that the stocking is done correctly and items aren’t being left in the back room. In essence, you want to have about ten pairs of eyes and fifty hours in a day so you can have the time to get everything done that you would like to.
Limit the number of questions.
The real question is: “How do you pick which questions to ask?” One of the best ways is to set yourself a limit of questions that you want to ask on a given task list. Maybe you could limit your list to only 10 or 20 questions. However, take some time to create a list of all of the things that you want to check. Then, choose which items on that list are the 10 to 20 most important to your performance metrics. Since you probably think all of your tasks are important use this to help – imagine one of your employees walked into your office and told you that two of the things on your task list were wrong and needed your attention. Which one would you go solve first? The tasks that you would go fix first are the ones you need to be asking right away.
Keep data in mind.
Another aspect to keep in mind is to ask questions you want to get data from. Do you really need a checklist to ensure your employees all have clean shoes and their shirts are tucked in? Things like an employee’s uniform are issues managers should ALWAYS be looking for. Save your checklists for tasks that make sense to write down and track.
Just because a certain task or metric that you would want to check does not fall into your top 20 does not mean that you should eliminate it from your list. After you have done a few checks and find that certain tasks are consistently meeting your standards, exchange those out and add in the tasks that didn’t quite make the cut. Keep working through your list using this process while sometimes going back and checking on those highest priorities just to make sure that they are still being met.
If you use an operational audit software solution to help you manage multiple locations, be sure that it will save your old tasks. This can be a key feature that allows you to be flexible and remember the questions that you have already asked without having to flip through old paper checklists. Ask the questions that make your brand as great as it is and get the insights that you truly need.
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