Routinely auditing your locations can lead to enormous benefits including:
Auditing doesn’t just have to come from Corporate. Single-unit or multi-unit owners can launch their own internal audits to reap these kinds of benefits.
A paper- or spreadsheet-based location audit process practically welcomes user error. A digital process guides the auditor through their checks and alerts the auditor to unusual results or possible errors by providing real-time trend data. Additionally, auditors can quickly enter the conditions while on the go using their phone or tablet.
Digital audits can also be adaptive so that the questions reflect the audited location. For instance, an audit template can repeat the same section of questions for each type of physical area at a particular location. Do you have three restrooms at the location you’re about to audit? A digital auditing form will automatically produce three identical sets of questions that ask about each restroom’s conditions.
Consistency is key to ensuring exceptional service, efficient operations, and top-notch guest experiences across multiple locations. Create an audit form or template to check that all locations are complying to your brand’s standards. Write questions that ask if marketing messages reflect the brand’s latest offerings, if the facilities décor and conditions properly represent the brand, if the sales associates use brand-approved sales pitches, etc.
When noting issues in an audit, it’s helpful to have the auditor upload photos and add comments. Photos and comments help the stakeholders of the audit’s findings better understand the problem so that they can more adequately address it.
For instance, let’s say an audit asks, “Is Equipment X working properly?” When the answer is “No,” it’s much more powerful to have an auditor provide comments as to why it isn’t working properly than have the stakeholders investigate that equipment and come to their own conclusions. Their conclusions could be incorrect, and they could spend time, money, and energy into fixing something that isn’t the central issue.
Owners and managers should habitually review audit results and trends over time to identify and correct operational issues, inefficiencies, inconsistencies, and risks. It’s not enough to just glance at this data though. Talk through it with your leaders and with your team! What about the results is unusual? What’s going well, and what’s in need of improvement? How could we better represent the brand?
It’s also important to remember that you cannot improve your operations without completely understanding the issue and the obstacles, so take your time to consider your audit results and compare it to previous results and/or other location’s results for deeper meaning.
Identifying the operational problem is only the first step. Discuss the issue to better understand it, then come up with an action plan for addressing the problem. Educate impacted team members on the problem and the action plan, and delegate action plan tasks to each of them. It’s vital to next schedule follow-up communications to check on the team’s progress with the action plan; this step promotes accountability and helps ensure that the problem gets resolved. Don’t forget to pay close attention to the next audit’s results to confirm that your team has completely addressed the issue.
This is probably the trickiest tip to implement. Building a supportive culture of auditing will take time because most of the work is centered on relationship building.
We suggest first identifying team members who are open to auditing and see its value. Get them on your side before revealing to the entire team the plan for adopting location auditing. Resistant team members are more likely to become supportive if they see that their peers are supportive.
Be transparent with your team. Describe how the auditing process will work, how it will help the business, and how it will impact them. Respond to resistance by emphasizing how auditing will not just be used to identify issues but to also highlight the successes.
Once auditing begins, keep to your promise and share the good and the bad from the audit’s results with your team. Take advantage of the “teachable moments” when the audit results flag issues and give prompt training or instruction to empower team members to thoroughly address the problems. And when you see favorable results from the audit, celebrate the successes with your team and be sure to shout out the team members responsible for the positive change.
If at all possible, seek an auditor that isn’t solely employed at one location to perform that location’s audit. Try to avoid relying on the location’s manager to perform the audit since they are likely biased and because their performance is tied to their location’s performance. Instead, seek a district manager, regional manager, or ask the owner to conduct the audit.
Woven’s latest feature, Location Audit, offers a simple solution for regularly auditing locations. This feature guides auditors through digital auditing forms allowing them to easily identify, track, and report on issues. Woven’s auditing templates adapt to reflect the audited location and allow the auditor to add photos and comments. Stakeholders can instantly review the audit’s results, consider comparative results, then take informed action to improve operations and drive consistency across locations.