Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Daily Gripe #5 - Audit Injustice

It's time for The Daily Gripe, from Average Joe American.

I've worked for five different retail companies during my retail career, as a Manager at each one of them. I've managed retail stores in four different sectors of the retail industry, from electronics to automotive, office supplies to crafts. A pretty wide array of specialties, but they all had one thing in common: The Audit.

Not an IRS Audit, or an SEC Audit, but an internal auditing system. Someone from a higher echelon -- usually in the Loss Prevention Department -- comes into the store unannounced and starts digging through records, receipts, inventory in search of areas of noncompliance.

It's generally an open book test. With most retailers, the Audit information is provided in advance to allow you to prepare for the areas that will be measured to ensure compliance and a passing Audit score. There should be no reason to fail, right? If only it were so simple.

In order to be in compliancre in all areas, you have to orchestrate the cooperation of every member of the team. Just one rogue element among the masses can result in peril.

I've been lucky enough to be passed over for the last three Audits. It's the biggest benefit of running a store in a single-store market off the beaten path. It takes a special full-day trip to make a visit to my store -- no killing two birds with one stone. My luck ran out yesterday when the Auditor showed up in my store at noon. I knew immediately that it wouldn't be pretty.

Don't get me wrong, my store runs quite well. In fact, it's one of the smoothest run stores in the District. I have some very good, very dedicated people working for me. I also have a couple of not-so-motivated people who could stand to be upgraded.

Over the past month-and-a-half, we've been going all out to make the most of every customer that comes to our store. My store has the highest sales increase for the week, the month, and the quarter, and is the only store in the District within striking distance of a sales increase for the year to date (only 3% down). We have the highest number of Service Plan sales in the District at double the next highest store, as well as the highest Customer Service score in District at over 92%.

Things are running beautifully. We're in the midst of a quarterly inventory that promises to result in an inventory gain. So with so many things going well, what's my gripe?

With all this focus on actually running a successful retail operation, I've allowed myself and my people to overlook some of the key points in the Audit.

To make a long story short (it's not too late yet, is it?), my store did not receive a passing score on the Audit yesterday. That really gripes me! We received a 60%, fully ten points behind our last Audit score of more than a year ago. Failing the Audit didn't surprise me as much as seeing the Auditor walk in the store.

I guess my biggest gripe is with myself for losing focus on the Audit. I could have passed this Audit and been free and clear for maybe a year or more, but now I'm due to be re-Audited some time in the next ninety days. Next time, I'll be prepared.


No comments:

Average Joe's Review Store