We recently published a blog that shared some best practices regarding a Post Audit Action Plan, titled, “Maybe it’s because your audit plan fails to act.” In this article Don Sutherland, the author, explored the key elements for the foundation of a successful audit plan. Here are some additional tips to keep your audit compliance momentum moving forward.
To sustain compliance between corporate-based (or DM) audits, implement a self audit program. Audits should be like an open book test, where every store knows what they will be audited on when their “official” audits take place. Requiring stores to complete and document self audits will help gauge compliance and hopefully sustain positive results. If the manager does not have the time for a full audit, structure the audit so they can complete a different section each week. Emphasize the importance of the self audit by adding it as a question on the LP audit and a check point for DM visits. This will ensure there will not be any surprises at the conclusion of an audit for the manager completing self audits on a regular basis.
A Second Set of Eyes
Get others involved in the self audit. Delegating some components to assistant managers, key holders and even store associates is a great way to involve others in the process and take the full burden off the store manager. A second set of eyes may identify areas of non-compliance that the manager has overlooked. It may also serve as a teaching tool; reinforcing policy and procedure information, by reviewing a portion of the audit. You could even arrange for managers to visit neighboring locations to complete an audit of their location; this could benefit both locations and lead to the sharing of ideas and experience.
In the end, it is store management (and field management) who are responsible for the store’s accountability for operational compliance. However, it is important for them to understand what is expected and how they are to be held accountable. Developing a structured corrective action plan for those locations which consistently fail audits is a must in ensuring that the location does not get “out of control” with non-compliance, shrink and poor sales performance. If current management is not able to improve upon the areas of exposure they are not the right people to fix the problem. Make certain that proper accountability is assigned with a structured program to address poor performance. On the other hand, have a structure in place to also commend those who have taken positive steps toward changing the store.
One of the most important questions on an audit is: “Have the previous areas of non-compliance been corrected?” This is an excellent question that should be asked after every audit. The purpose of conducting audits, establishing action plans, assigning accountability and performing self audits is to resolve issues and improve and/or maintain compliance. If, after all of the best practices and tips from this article and our previous article have been implemented and, improvement has not occurred action must be taken. Is it store management that is not capable of handling a location? Is it a DM, who has multiple locations with issues, that may require new field management? Could it be that your audit is not structured in at that provides the best learning experience or does it lack clarity?
Without demonstrated improvement of your audit program as it relates to compliance, shrink and performance, one must look again at how your program has been developed, implemented and executed.
By implementing these and many of our previous audit program recommendations, the “groundhog day” frustration of why the same items are always non-compliant can be replaced with documented success. Audits provide an excellent snapshot of your stores at a given moment in time. Combining a structured audit program with self audits, action plans and proper follow up visits will create a filmstrip that will help bring forth better accountability and demonstrated improvement.
Written by Marc MacGillivray, National Client Service Manager