Many retailers, grocers, and franchisors alike perform regular store audits in all of their locations. Managers who perform these audits typically have a checklist full of questions and tasks that they have to mark as complete. But what is the benefit of doing these audits? The answer happens after the audit is over.
After doing audits, either the results will get shoved in a filing cabinet or managers will submit their results to corporate so that executives within the company can verify initiatives are being completed. So in short, the current purpose of store audits is to verify task completion. We are here to tell you that doing store audits simply to mark off tasks is the old way of doing things. We believe that every activity in your business should be focused on process improvement, after all, we’re never really done improving – are we?
The only way you can really gauge process improvement is through the collection of data. In order to be able to say, “We are better now than we were before,” you need to compare data from then and now. You should be using store audits to gather some of this data. If you use paper checklists you can simply compile them into reports. You may want to reevaluate your current lists to see if there are auditing tasks you need to add or remove so you get the right data.
Here are some questions you will want to design your reports to answer:
- How is our company doing on a specific task or initiative over time?
- What are the bottom performing initiatives (biggest opportunities) company-wide?
- How does each store compare in overall performance and by department, both this week and over time?
- Which stores are consistently performing well? Are there promotion opportunities at those stores?
- Has each store been audited this week/month/quarter?
By having access to the information above, your management team will be able to make more informed decisions about where to spend their time. After all there is only so much time in a day, spend it where it matters most.
If you’re worried about investing the time into compiling reports, consider investing in a store audit software solution. This type of solution will not only compile the data you need, but be your complete store audit tool. A store audit software application will allow you to input your checklists, complete audits, and track trends all from one place. This not only saves you time, but also gives you that actionable data to make better business decisions without going through the hassle of compiling all those paper audits.
In the end, whether you use pen and paper audits or a software solution, the primary purpose of a store audit is to get the data you need to continually improve your company not just on a single day. Use your store audits for more than just verifying task completion in order to improve the overall quality of your business.