The action plan is an opportunity to apply corrective actions to problem areas. It designates an individual responsible for rectifying each problem (anything deemed substandard or non-compliant by the district or sales manager during the audit) and a target date for resolution. By doing this, the plan fosters ownership and accountability at store level. It also allows district managers and franchisees/store managers to work collaboratively, for example by viewing each other’s notes and comments and adding their own. Lastly, the plan breeds efficiency. It allows for corrections to happen without incurring large time and labor overheads by reducing the time-consuming back-and-forth and ad-hoc communication between the franchisee/store manager and the district manager.
Why do you need an action plan?
It has often been said that you can’t manage that which you can’t measure. Measuring and assessing compliance with standards has many benefits in and of itself. Measurement allows trends to emerge, repeat unacceptables to stand out and performance to be aggregated and sorted. However, the benefits of retail audits reach well beyond measurement. How good is measurement unless you apply correction? How good is a report unless you weave continuous improvement into the process? How good is problem discovery without resolution and closure?
At its core, the plan is a vehicle for improvement. Success in retail hinges largely on execution. The action plan is, by design, execution. The plan is an opportunity to apply corrective actions to problem areas. It designates an individual responsible for rectifying each problem and a target date. It allows district managers and store staff to work collaboratively, view each other’s notes and add their own. It allows for corrections to happen without incurring large time and labour overheads.
Building efficiencies into the plan generation and follow-up is critical to the success of the field audit program and the return on investment of such a program. Given the importance we place on the plan, it should come as no surprise that, for every store visit, the organization saves $73 when using best-of-breed retail audit software with much of the savings attributable to action plan efficiencies.
The action plan is the continuation of the visit, the key to getting resolution and closure and a prime area for generating time and labour savings and greater return on investment. If each problem area is an ailment, the action plan is the cure. Don’t leave the store without one!