3 Best Practices for Effective Restaurant Audits
There's nothing quite as panic-inducing as the prospect of having your restaurant audited.
But considering the 48 million reported cases of foodborne illnesses in the US every year, the lack of an effective audit plan sets your business up for a bad Yelp review, a PR crisis, or worse.
No one wants to be Chipotle in 2018, when a norovirus outbreak caused their shares to drop by 7%.
Or McDonalds when they had to recall salads from 3000 restaurants after the FDA confirmed over 400 cases of Cyclospora infection across 15 states.
The problem is, slip-ups are easy to make. Fridge temperature, food storage, correct allergen displays and product traceability must be perfect 100% of the time or your business is exposed to risk.
7.7 million employees work in the food and beverage industry, and a good chunk of them are between the ages of 16 and 19.
So with so many employees, how can restaurant chains do everything in their power to avoid unnecessary risk?
1) Help auditors focus their time where it's impactful
An audit questionnaire has hundreds of important questions. But answering each question isn't an impactful use of an assessor’s time, especially when those questions are in an Excel spreadsheet or clipboard.
Giving auditors a digital tool to whizz through questions focuses their time on areas that need attention, making the audit more effective. With a digital tool, human error is reduced and risk is avoided.
Auditors are experienced - they've seen it all, and they could help staff by sharing best practices they've picked up from years working in the field. But only if they have the time.
2) Ensure audit reports are clear, actionable and accessible
Audit reports are a goldmine of data head office can use to identify areas where staff slip up with health and safety, so they can create targeted training and make data-driven decisions. But it's difficult to be aware of issues on a wider scale when everything is stored in spreadsheets or paper checklists.
Audit reports should clearly indicate:
- Improvements to be made by the staff, how to make them and when they should be made by
- How the restaurant scored on each area, for example: safe handling of food, cooking temperatures, etc
- Overall restaurant score
For example, if audit reports show a pattern of store employees being unclear about correct oil temperature for cooking fries, head office can create a targeted training program about cooking temperatures.
And that leads to the third point...
3) Make your employee health and safety training so thorough that audits are merely a formality
Studies have found a correlation between comprehensive food and safety training and fewer health and safety compliance violations. The best way to have a successful audit is to train employees so well on health and safety that it becomes second nature. Training needs to be continuous, accessible and easy to digest. After all, assessors don't just audit the restaurant, they audit employee knowledge too.
Start implementing these 3 best practices today to make audits your secret weapon for the perfect guest experience!
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