Does “Tastes Great, Less Filling” ring a bell? Launched in the 1970s, this Miller Lite campaign featured two or more celebrities debating which was the top merit of a product which was an entirely new concept at the time of its release. When it comes to audit philosophies, you might feel like you’re caught in one of those old commercials, going back and forth about the value of internal vs. external audits. Which kind of audit should your company be conducting? While each has its merits, the answer to your question is both. External audits bring a level of objectivity that internal audits can’t match, but that distance is best bridged by the managers who know your company best. Internal audits are essential to support and expand the data that external audits reveal.
The Cost of Failed Inspections
Some weeks, it feels like every time you turn on the news there’s another story about a restaurant, grocery store, or convenience store failing inspection. Government agencies at various levels are responsible for protecting public health through these safety inspections and the agents who conduct them take their jobs seriously. Failing grades can happen because of inadequate food safety measures, poor cleanliness, unsafe environments, or a wide range of other reasons. Regardless of why a failure occurs, one thing is for sure: failed audits cost money.
- Those low inspection scores might lead to immediate and unplanned expenses for equipment repair.
- Staff members will spend valuable time preparing for a revisit which may not even improve safety procedures in the long run. That time could be better spent on customer service.
- You might have to close for hours or days while issues are resolved. Longest-lasting and worst of all is a loss of consumer trust.
- Many communities require business owners to post inspection scores where customers can see them. When word of your failing grade gets out in newspapers, on television, and across social media, customer loyalty is negatively impacted. Repeat customers fracture their relationship with your company, taking their business to an establishment that they perceive to be cleaner and safer.
The best way to protect your business from these unnecessary risks is by investing in the quality of your internal inspections.
Which is More Important, Internal or External Audits?
Many companies in the restaurant and convenience store sectors hire outside contractors to conduct back-of-house audits and provide management with a clearer picture of organizational successes and failures. In addition to looking at health and safety concerns like food storage temperatures, these companies send trained inspectors to look at food waste or examine customer service issues such as greetings, signage, cleanliness, and drive-thru times. Bigger brands commonly employ mystery shoppers to pose as consumers and report on what they observed in the front-of-house retail or restaurant environment as well as on their experiences interacting with staff.
There is no doubt that those external audits are useful. As the auditors themselves do not work for your company and have no stake in whether or not the location passes the inspection, they tend to be exacting in their standards. But that same advantage also poses a problem. Because they don’t work for your company, it can be hard for inspectors to analyze the data they uncover. Your team knows your business best and knows what to look for in an audit. When you support the insights you gain from external audits with information collected internally, your managers get a higher-level view of everything that’s happening at your company. They are better able to draw comparisons and see trends, correcting issues before they lead to loss of revenue.
The Best Way to Conduct Internal Audits
In the early days of audits, the process was relatively simple. The auditor arrived on site with a clipboard, looked around, took notes, and went back to the office, where a report was typed up and sent around. The first real innovation took place when spreadsheets became commonplace in the 1980s. Sorting and analyzing data was simplified and streamlined. Widespread internet use transformed audits in the 1990s. It became faster and easier to share information, but emailing reports throughout the company was still clunky. It took longer than necessary for managers to share data via email and then identify and respond to issues. Today there’s a more cost-effective, impactful way for companies to conduct internal audits that support those being done by outside organizations.
AuditApp by MeazureUp is a fully customizable field assessment tool that works on any mobile device and across all of your locations. All your auditor has to do is use their existing phone or tablet to check compliance with pre-defined brand standards, upload photos to the dashboard to document infractions, add comments and notes. That data becomes instantly available to stakeholders throughout your organization who can use it to avoid unnecessary expenses and boost your bottom line.
The Value of Internal Audits: A Brief Case Study
Consider the tale of a nationally-known popcorn company that once relied only on external audits to support their preventative maintenance plan. Management recognized that operating a heavily-industrialized business comes with an inherent risk. When one of the machines that produces their inventory is taken out of service, no popcorn – and no money – is made. Their financial success was inextricably linked to their mechanical health. When they relied strictly on a contractor to conduct their audits, not only did it take time for information to move up and down the chain of command but there was a lack of insider data analysis.
The popcorn company needed a state-of-the-art internal audit solution that would help them get ahead of potential crises. They found it with MeazureUp. Managers already knew that a slowing of production indicated a need for maintenance; the machines simply weren’t performing at capacity. Using our platforms, managers were able to conduct visits and track output closely, noticing a need for maintenance and scheduling service preemptively and instantly. This proactive business plan decreased downtime and increased sales.
Learn more about how your organization can use AuditApp by MeazureUp to decrease risk and maximize revenue through powerful internal audits. Schedule your free demo today.