Audits are becoming more important as customers are making clear their preference for establishments that prioritize public health and safety. An additional concern is not only the health of restaurant industry workers; this is also a time when fewer workers are available to handle the additional workload caused by increased safety protocols and the diversified customer service that today’s clients expect.
Every procedure in your restaurant has likely changed in response to the pandemic, and audit procedures could be no different. We are seeing the rise of hybrid and remote audits that limit in-person interactions and instead optimize the use of commonly available videoconferencing tools like Zoom, FaceTime and Google Duo.
And why not? All the same activities that happen during an in-person audit can also take place in a remote audit. The same documents, records and procedures will be examined; the same employee interviews and tours will take place. And the burgeoning Internet of Things is likely to support your remote audits through real-time monitoring of your kitchen’s “smart” devices like thermometers, which can report straight to remote auditing apps.
So is it time to make your audits remote throughout your organization? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Go Remote?
What are the specific benefits of remote auditing? You could see a cascade of positive results:
- Remote audits can be completed more quickly and with fewer logistical hassles than in-person ones, which means they can be scheduled more often.
- Regular audits should correct any shortcomings and boost overall compliance, which should lead to higher audit scores throughout your locations.
- More positive audit results should reflect that your locations are doing a better job of demonstrating strong public health practices as well as providing a meaningful, more consistent customer experience.
- As noted above, a safe and consistent customer experience is key to success in today’s restaurant industry.
There are other operational benefits, as well:
- As already mentioned, from a public health standpoint, remote audits are safer for everyone involved.
- Because travel isn’t necessary, your business saves on related costs such as hotel stays and mileage. This money can be redirected to other important budget line items.
The technology that really makes the concept of remote auditing work is a digital, mobile field auditing app. Not only can it access data from your “smart” appliances; it can readily collect and display your locations’ documentation history including completed checklists, updated procedures, employee training records, etc. Each audit can itself be filled out through the app, including all the same steps as the traditional, in-person version.
Your business audits may be internal, for your own compliance and operational records, or external, as required by regulatory bodies or governmental agencies. As long as your management team and employees take remote audits seriously and put in the same amount of preparation, there’s no reason every audit can’t be successfully handled remotely.
Improving Internal Audits
Remote restaurant audits still provide your regional managers with a clear window into how each location is performing on health and safety guidelines, food preparation protocols, legal compliance, and more. Regional managers can complete internal remote audits with digital field apps and the assistance of each location’s general manager, going over checklists, adding documentary photos and videos to the audit as needed, and completing any self-evaluations over the phone or video chat. Any procedure that is important to your operational goals can be subject to internal audit: sanitation checklists, employee performance reviews and training evaluations, even branding guidelines and customer experience standards.
There’s an additional benefit: Since your regional managers aren’t devoting time to travel and the preparation and filing of paper documentation (we’ll get to that in a moment), they have more time for coaching and mentoring activities and sharing best practices from other locations. This extra time and attention can be put toward bolstering employee empowerment and engagement while also emphasizing the importance of excellent customer service.
One of the miseries of the restaurant industry has been the preparation of paper documentation for external regulatory audits. How many hours does your operational team put into compiling checklists, compliance reports, and other required information?
With today’s digital field audit apps, all that documentation is recorded as it happens. Each action taken by any employee or submitted by any device is automatically time-stamped, attributed and geolocated so that it becomes part of your business’ legal record. This moves the focus of an external audit from establishing a history of periodic checks to reviewing each location’s ongoing recordkeeping and monitoring.
It’s no longer necessary to make paper copies available to the auditor; you simply prepare the relevant reports with the app and make copies available digitally. The auditor can review all documentation in advance and come to the remote video audit with specific questions or requests for clarification. This greatly streamlines the external auditing process and makes it less stressful and time-consuming for everyone involved.
The Power of Remote Auditing
In short, what the age of remote auditing can mean to your restaurant business is spending less time in preparation, experiencing less stress, bringing consistency to compliance and the customer experience, and getting more accomplished with potentially fewer employees. However, you can’t optimize remote auditing without a top-of-the-line field audit solution like MeazureUp.
MeazureUp eliminates all of your paper documentation, including employee training, by reproducing and storing it digitally where it can be accessed by any employee through their phone. Any action such as checklist entries and procedure checks can be completed quickly and easily, including the addition of photos and videos. And when any action is taken, the results are available throughout your organization in real time.
Further, the app includes an easy-to-use dashboard and automated reporting options that make it easy to look at anything from one checklist at one location to the overall trends from all locations over time. Advanced data analytics are also included to support timely, fact-based decision-making such as taking advantage of previously unrecognized trends or quickly addressing deficiencies before they become serious. It also establishes a culture of full transparency and accountability.
To learn more about how MeazureUp can establish remote audits within your restaurants, contact us today.