How to Prepare for Upcoming Restaurant Audits

By April 8, 2021 Blog
restaurant auditor using laptop

Ahhh, the joys of the restaurant auditing process. It’s that time when your managers attempt to ensure that organizational policies are being upheld in every area — from regulatory compliance and cleaning procedures to temp checks and the most recent iteration of the menu. The forms! The walkthroughs! The details! Not to mention the general sense of dread that settles over everyone involved:

  • Your staff dislikes this time because of all the questions they have to answer and because of the inevitable list of tasks they’re doing wrong.
  • Your managers resent audits because they have to complete all this extra preparatory work — and at the end, they learn that locations they thought were doing fine really aren’t.

However, the audit is the only way to really know if there’s any gap between what the organization expects and what’s actually taking place in each restaurant. It’s true that we’re entering the age of remote audits, even by governmental agencies, but the comprehensive check must still be done.

Which leads us to a really revolutionary idea: What if your teams, and your managers, didn’t have to prepare…. at all?

Sure, we exaggerate just a little; there will always have to be some preparation involved, particularly for those external audits that establish regulatory compliance. Nonetheless, our goal here is to show you how an audit can be both painless and much more productive.

A Reactionary Audit

Traditional, paper-based operational processes can’t help but lead to time-consuming, cumbersome audit processes. How many inches high is that stack of forms your managers have to review before an audit and then complete during an audit? And is filling out that stack by hand, or laboriously filling in a spreadsheet, really the best use of their time?

Of course compliance must be demonstrated and confirmed on everything from public health and safety requirements to brand standards. But how long does it take, and how frustrating is it, for someone on your operations team to have to compile all the necessary historical documents?

The problem, however, goes beyond simple frustration and dread. It’s that paper-based audits are designed to prove the past, not prepare a better future. While your management team is spending time on documentation and filling in forms, it’s easy to lose sight of the real goal of these assessments: continuously working to provide the best food in the safest environment while building a consistently great customer experience.

Here’s just one example. Ideally, your audit process should end with a series of procedures to correct any issues discovered through the audit. But again, in traditional audits, these procedures are all paper-based. What steps does your management team have to take to be sure the assigned action plans are being completed, and by whom? If there was a deadline for completion, do you know if they hit it? And finally, how can everyone involved use this post-audit status as the starting point for the next round of assessments?

After all, in a paper-based system, the audited location just continues the same process as before, piling up clipboards and forms for someone to put in a spreadsheet somewhere. And the avalanche of paper about past actions starts building all over again.

Now let’s look at how a digital, mobile audit can be substantially more effective in much less time.

A Proactive Audit

Another problem baked into the traditional audit system is that it’s not set up to recognize that every restaurant within your chain is just different — the times they’re busiest are different; the characteristics of their teams are different. Their customer base may even be significantly different. Each of these unique locations has different strengths, weaknesses, revenue streams, and lessons they could pass along to other locations.

In a paper-based system, it is nearly impossible to find and analyze this level of detail for any location ahead of an audit. However, with a digital, mobile field audit solution, all those details are waiting inside the app dashboard, ready for any member of your staff who needs them. Built-in data analytics will quickly generate whatever reports your team needs to audit any location – even any shift of any location. The app also provides quick and easy access to previous assessments, as well as all the other paperwork needed for any audit.

The reason all your documentation is already collected is that your employees have already filled out all the necessary checklists and procedural forms in an app their phones. It takes them just a few minutes during every shift to tap and swipe through their shift checks and daily task lists; they can even add dictation, photos and videos to the records. Most importantly, as they finish each step, it’s automatically tagged with the employee, the time and the location, and uploaded to the app dashboard in real time. This becomes your business’ official and legal record. Among other benefits, your managers all objectively know, every day, exactly how their locations are performing.

So what to do with all that time your teams aren’t spending on document review? Instead of being reactive, your managers can be proactive, prioritizing their employees and providing well-deserved recognition as well as specific, in-app action plans for addressing those areas that aren’t up to par. They can share best practices that they’ve learned from other locations and provide other forms of mentorship.

This sort of audit is also less stressful on employees. With feedback based on the mobile app’s documentation, each employee can objectively learn what they do well and what they need to focus on a bit more – and they can receive this feedback much more quickly, before a problem becomes serious and definitely more regularly than just at audit time. The digital audit solution supports their growth by storing all the training and best practices they need to improve. Your employees and teams are empowered every day to succeed. And when they feel like they’re getting more support and recognition, they will in turn provide more support and better service to your customers.

Take Control of Your Audit Process

The digital field audit app MeazureUp was built to streamline and optimize daily checklist and auditing processes and has helped improve the performance of thousands of locations all over North America. MeazureUp makes it easy to take your operations online, track them daily, and ensure a consistent customer experience at all your locations.