The best way to take a store's temperature, so to speak, is by conducting an audit. And not just one audit every few years or so - you want to regularly audit a store so that you can stay abreast of any issues before they become catastrophes. You can also notice trends this way, and then plan accordingly.
Here are some things you definitely do want to cover during your audit, as these are your best indicators as to whether or not things are chug-chugging along or if they are quickly on their way to becoming a mess:
- Locations of your products (both in the store and on the shelf) - where your product is, and the abundance in which it is present, will determine how well it will sell.
- Price as marked - are things appropriately priced? Does the signage match the product?
- Nearby products - how are products grouped together? Are batteries near the electronics? Are chips near the soda? Are products placed in such a way as to potentially ensure add-on purchases?
- Available stock - do you have enough product available to meet demand? Should you discount your product if you have an abundance of it and it's just not selling?
- Promotional displays - are your promotions set up exactly according to the planogram? Are there marketing materials nearby that explain the features of your newest product, or that show the different kinds of shapes, colors, styles, etc. in which that product is available?
- Store environment - how is the store looking these days? Are there fingerprints on every glass and metal surface? Is the backroom overflowing with product that the staff simply doesn't have time to usher out onto the floor? Are the bathrooms tidy? How about the cash register areas? Are the carpets regularly vacuumed, or the floors regularly swept? A nasty-looking store can make even the shiniest products unappealing; it's also a memorable one. Think back to one of the dirtiest stores you were ever in - did you ever go back to that store after that experience? Probably not, even if they might have announced new management later on. You'll still see that overflowing toilet in your mind's eye.
- Staff - in addition to your stock and visible environment, you'll also want to audit your staff. Is everyone properly trained? Are they pushing up-sells where appropriate? Are your reps completing all of the tasks that they need to complete while out in the field? If not, why, and how can you help them?
Many of these things can be audited through the use of a smartphone or tablet, so long as it's paired up with a reliable field management software package. Auditors can take pictures of most of the above and forward it on to management, complete with their finished audit (which can be done digitally, rather than through more time-consuming paper formats).
Field management software can also be useful in helping auditors compare information not only between different store locations but also between your organization and the competitor, contrasting what works for the competitor with what doesn't work for your organization, and then helping the company (or a particular store) plan accordingly.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again: field management software is impeccable at saving companies money by making their audits more efficient and by giving reps, auditors, and managers the tools that they need to stop problems before they start, or to correct problems while they're still small and before they go on to cost the company countless profits.
Are your audits thorough? Does your auditor use field management software to work his or her magic? See how your audits measure up when pinning your store locations up against those of your peers by clicking below to receive our free Field Force Productivity Assessment.