February 1, 2016

The secret to successful store audits



Store audits are tricky. They’re designed to protect assets and ensure smooth operations, but if handled incorrectly, they can be ineffective and inefficient. There’s a secret to making the most of them, but a lot of retailers miss it.


The secret to the best audit procedures? The simple element of surprise. When you perform a scheduled audit of a store, employees have time to make sure everything is ship-shape for the auditor. Everything’s neat and tidy, and every procedure is followed to the letter. But is this how they operate each day? You’ll never know unless you send auditors out to stores unannounced.


A surprise audit gives you a snapshot in time of how a store really operates and how it follows procedures corporate has set. With no time to prepare, employees can’t hide errors, shortcuts around procedures, or wrongdoing.




Surprise audit tips

  • Pop in at the beginning of a morning shift — you’re more likely to catch the associates fresh and ready to talk.

  • Avoid Mondays. They’re typically the busiest for operations personnel, and you might not have their full attention.

  • Depending on the size of your organization, try to visit each store once or twice a year to keep processes in check. 


Sample questions 

Audits are an essential part of the retail environment. When you thoroughly audit your store’s cash management operations, you see what’s really going on. Below is a sampling of questions you should be asking about practices and procedures to get a clearer picture of how time is spent by the people handling your cash:

  • Is the bookkeeper physically counting all components of the house (gift certificates, lottery, etc.) each morning?

  • Are daily money order readings taken and compared to POS totals?  

  • Is the store following proper void transaction procedures? 

  • Is the company pickup policy being adhered to?

  • Is admittance to the bookkeeping office restricted? Is the door locked at all times?

  • Are all tills that are not in use properly secured?

  • Are all funds in the bookkeeping office protected from customer/cashier access?


At the corporate office, it can be difficult to ensure that procedures are being followed correctly. With a strong audit program in place, you can feel confident that corporate policies are being followed as directed. Take some time to think about your audit procedures and whether they are being handled as efficiently as possible. If they aren’t, it might be time to change your process.  

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