The key to effective store audits is having a good process before and after to make sure that you maximize your time in the store, increase efficiency, and use the time you invested in the audit effectively. Here are some tips to improve:
Do Your Prep Work
One of my favorite quotes has always been “The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare.” While this is typically associated with sports, it carries over nicely to store audits as well. If you walk into a store with a bad list that doesn’t include your top priorities or doesn’t give you a good plan of action, it does not matter how successful you want to be. You have to set yourself up for success by taking the time to develop good checklists that make audits more meaningful and easier to do.
Another important aspect of the prep work is scheduling store audits. The best strategy is to have a “regularly irregular” schedule. This means that you get into stores on a frequent basis, but you do not want it to be at the exact same time every single week. As an employee, if I know that between 10:15 AM and 10:30 AM on Tuesday Joe the CEO is going to walk through my department, I am going to make sure it looks great. The problem is that performance might not be at that level for the rest of the week. You might think that a lack of communication is a bad thing, but in this case, you want to make sure that the communication that you are coming does not get out beyond those who absolutely need to know. You can learn about scheduling store visits here.
Make It Meaningful
Once you are actually in the store, use the time effectively. Interact with employees and find out what is actually going on in the stores. There is almost always more to a problem than just what you see on the surface. Are you low on bananas? Maybe you do not have any green bananas available? Aside from being marked on your store audit list as wrong, you want to be able to find out why that happened. Was it a one-day issue? Is it a training issue where someone did not know the correct procedure? Maybe it was an external issue outside of the store’s control? Regardless of what the issue was, it is important to take the action to help ensure that it does not happen again in the future. You want to avoid having to correct the same problem over and over again. Read more about correcting problems during audits here.
Once you have found a problem and corrected it during your visit, make a note to check up on it next time. Maybe you keep that paper checklist and bring it with you on your next visit or put a star next to problem areas from the last trip on your checklist so you give them some extra attention. When employees see that they are going to be held accountable for things, they make them a priority.
As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. Take the time in your next store audits to do a little extra prep work, spend meaningful time in discussions with store staff regarding issues, and follow-up with the store in later audits to make sure issues are truly resolved and store audits will start to have tangible, long-lasting value.