A retail audit helps retail and hospitality brands execute brand standards, programs, and policies in areas such as operations, merchandising, loss prevention, health and safety and security across all stores, in full and, on time. The audit is sometimes called an assessment, an inspection or simply a visit. If fact, sometimes an audit is not an audit at all. You just need to collect information or files from the field.
However, an audit is not just a checklist, it does not happen in vacuum. A good audit needs a solid workflow. It also requires supporting technologies to connect your field team and sites, cost and time effectively.
We will illustrate this point with the use of Bindy, the retail and hospitality industries’ leading site execution platform.
Bindy implements an end-to-end, closed-loop site execution workflow. It lets brands communicate, execute, verify and remedy on time, in full, at every site.
Here is Bindy’s audit / assessment / inspection workflow.
Step 1: Build Forms
Each form represents a certain program. It could be an operations program or a merchandising / seasonal initiative. It could be a loss prevention or security program.
A form represents any information, data, photos, videos, or files you wish to collect at your sites.
Set your permissions and restrictions. Choose who on your team can use the form, when they can use the form, and where they can use it.
One form may be a self-assessment to be completed by the store manager or hotel’s general manager once a week. Another form may be completed by the district or cluster manager once a quarter. You control access, frequency and effective dates on a form-by-form basis.
Using the built-in site tagging module, target specific sites, formats and/or users with specific forms, sections, and items (if needed). Not all forms may be applicable to all sites. You control this.
Illustrate items with best-practice pictures and include attachments. A picture is worth a thousand words. This is particularly useful for visual merchandising. Don’t just tell the field what the standard is, show them.
Use conditional logic to drill down on root causes. If “Last fire inspection more than 6 months old” was answered yes, trigger an item to collect the last fire inspection report on file for example.
Specify whether photos and videos are mandatory.
For best results, calibrate the form with your team.
Step 2: Schedule visit(s)
Use the calendar to schedule one-off or recurring inspections. Choose the site, the appropriate form, and whether the inspection should recur.
Send notifications (subject to whether the visit is announced to the site or a “surprise” visit). Export the scheduled visit to Outlook if needed.
Step 3: Conduct a visit / Inspection
Bindy features advanced data collection capabilities. Site visits can be conducted in real-time or offline on any mobile device, laptop or tablet. Site visits are aided by geo-location and geo-fencing, item descriptions, best practice pictures and attachments.
You can take photos and upload videos during the visit. Unlike the “best practice photos” added to items when the form was created, these are field photos of how this item, at this site, on this day, looked.
You can also collect files and attachments as part of the visit. This could be a proof of insurance for example, a security certificate in PDF or raw sales data in Excel.
The system is store-list and hierarchy aware so if a district manager is affiliated with 30 sites, this district manager may only visit and run reports against these 30 sites.
Note that the person or role designated to conduct the visit (also view it, sign it, get notified, etc…) is not static. It varies by form depending on the business objectives of each form. For example, you may have a “Quarterly Ops Review” conducted by the District Manager and signed by the Store Manager. You may also have a “Daily Opening Checklist” conducted by the Assistant Store Manager, effectively as a self assessment, and viewable by the Store Manager and the District Manager. Each form represents a customizable workflow that is created when the form is built.
Step 4: Create an action plan
The action plan is automatically generated by extracting all non-compliant items from the visit.
The action plan allows the user conducting the visit to assign corrective actions, a person responsible and a target date to each problem area.
Emails and notifications are automatically sent to those with action plan responsibilities. This also shows up on their dashboards and on reports for outstanding items, including time-to-completion.
District managers and owners/franchisees/managers can enter their own notes and view each other’s notes thus making issue-resolution collaborative and transparent.
Verification photos can be added to each item.
Step 5: sign the visit
The system allows the brand to designate several users who are allowed to sign and “sign off” on the visit on a form-by-form basis. This provides a record of integrity and locks the visit from further edits. Sign the visit electronically with any touch screen device (or even a mouse!).
Step 6: Track and follow-up
Bindy has built-in monitoring for “outstanding” tasks and responsibilities. At any given time, anyone may log-in (system may also send email notifications) to check what has and hasn’t been done. This results in significant savings to the organization. A Bindy retail audit saves the organization over 2 hours and $84.
Bindy also allows organizations to manage operations remotely and deploy “self assessments” from stores and franchisees where additional savings are realized.
Step 7: Report, refine, repeat
The return on investment does not end with collecting inspection data, or even applying corrective actions, that’s just where it begins.
Bindy has industry leading analytics and graphically-oriented tools and charts to help you find your best and worst items, operators, regions, repeat unaceptables and a lot more. Bindy turns data into information so you can make informed business decisions.
Spot trends, average scores, worst and best performers, and much more. With this information, the organization can further tune the form(s) and repeat the cycle of compliance with brand standards and programs.
A good audit needs a solid workflow. A checklist is nothing without supporting technologies to connect your field team and sites, cost and time effectively. Implementing Bindy is neither time-consuming nor difficult. It is perhaps one of the easiest steps a retail or hospitality brand can take to boost the execution of programs and brand standards, customer satisfaction and sales.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BINDY
Interested in learning more? See why top retail and hospitality brands use Bindy to drive customer satisfaction, merchandising execution, lower costs, increased health and safety and loss prevention across their business.