Managing Retail Audit Expectations & Dealing With a Low Score

Scoring a store’s compliance with operational, merchandising and service standards can elicit emotionally-charged reactions.  Most operators/franchisees take pride in their work and can struggle with a disappointing audit  score and district manager guidance.  Was the district manager too harsh or unfair?  Is my store really lacking in certain areas as the audit’s score, notes and action plan suggest?  It can be a lot to deal with on a professional level but also on a personal level.

While we understand an operator’s pride and commitment to excellence, we would be inclined to give the following advice to anyone disappointed with the outcome of their last audit:  1) Don’t sweat the score and 2) Don’t waste the opportunity.

In retail, perfection can be elusive

There is no such thing as a perfect visit in retail.  Turnover happens.  Weather happens.  Human errors happen. Even the best operators let a thing or two fall through the cracks, occasionally.  Getting a less-than-perfect score is not, in and of itself, a grave concern nor particularly unexpected.  The best ball players in the world don’t throw the perfect pitch 100% of the time, neither do the best retail operators.

Team calibration plays a certain role in this and so does managing expectations.  Let us remember that the very purpose of a retail audit is not in fact to score, but to improve the store’s sales and bottom line.  Didn’t get a perfect score?  Were the store’s presentation, merchandising and service standards perfect in every way?   Perfection is a journey, not a destination.

Seize the opportunity

So what’s the opportunity?  For a district manager, the opportunity is to hold his/her stores to the highest standards.  Anything less is unfair to the brand, the franchisee and the customers.  For a franchisee, the opportunity is to uphold and execute on those standards.   So don’t sweat a low score.  A low score can happen on any journey to greatness.  Focus on the opportunity, the end goal and a chance to do better next time.

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