Rocket your way to a top store audit with these 10 tips

It is often said that your brand strategy is only as good as it’s execution in-store and so your brand’s success is hugely dependent on your in-store audit. The purpose of a store audit is to ensure standards are kept high and agreed procedures have been kept to, whilst helping your stores progress towards the goals of the company.

We give you our top ten tips to ensure yours is the best it can be!

1. Be crystal clear – Text that is overly complicated or filled with jargon is no help to anyone. Ensure that it is clear, simple and easy to read. It should be long enough to explain what the successful outcome will look like but keep it succinct and to the point!

2. Picture perfect – Sometimes words just aren’t enough, you need a picture to illustrate your standards and show what best practice looks like. For the best results attach an image with each standard description. With Oplift Review regional managers and head office can also get instant updates on POS displays, the photo upload feature and rating slide bar means these can be instantly sent for review.

3. Context is king –  Just giving instructions of how to do things isn’t good enough. You need to explain the ‘why’, this will ensure more attention is paid as staff will understand the importance of components in the audits. It will also mean that staff will be more focused on making sure they accurately carry out the audits and keep standards up.

4. Encourage collaboration –  It shouldn’t just be the regional manager who signs off the review. Encourage them to get sign-offs from managers in the store as well. This will ensure you get their input and feedback. Most store managers and assistant managers are keen to drive the success of their store so their input is vital.

5. Don’t be secretive – Make sure your store audit files are visible and can be easily accessed, not written on a piece of paper somewhere in your own office. Make sure they are available anytime, anywhere and can be viewed by everyone that needs to see them. They should be looked at frequently to improve the store audit. Oplift Review ensures that all audits are stored digitally and you can see all store and employee performance instantly.

6. Encourage a constant learning environment – A store visit shouldn’t just be a routine checklist, it should be an opportunity to train and develop store staff. Staff should observe and the regional manager should train and teach, this will create a culture of continuous improvement and help you to become a learning organisation.

7. Action plan  A store audit with a list of problems is not useful if you provide no solution to fix them. You must always create an action plan with corrective actions and steps for problem areas. Generating the work plan should be automated and part of the visiting process. To make sure no one ever leaves the store without one, have a digital tool which pulls instant reports on the spot.

8. Set high expectations – The trick to keeping standards high is to aim high. Set store expectations to be the best they can so that even if they do fall slightly below it’s still above average. The regional manager must be firm and stick to these standards, however, they must not ruin their relationship with the store manager otherwise the line of communication will be at risk.  Regional managers must be understanding and friendly but they must also make it clear what they expect.

9. Surprise – Not that you’re trying to catch them out but if you do a surprise visit you can see how the store usually operates meaning you get a true representation. It allows you to evaluate and provide more useful action plans as stores won’t have time to prepare.

10. Be consistent – A common mistake is to reduce the number of audits for stores with historically few issues. This means that staff in those stores may start to become lax as they know they are not being checked as often, this means standards will start to slip. You should set the number of audits to be carried out in the year and stick to it.

If you follow all of the tips mentioned above you make audits easier for the stores and for the regional managers and expectations are likely to always be met! 

For more help on workplace checklists, read the good and the bad of the store checklist.

Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 2nd November 2017