Let’s face it, when your franchisees hear the word “audit”, it can bring about feelings of uneasiness and stress. The pressure of gathering documents, monitoring responses, and sense of fear about compliance issues can be overwhelming. This is a natural reaction but there’s plenty of ways that you, as the franchisor, can reduce these negative feelings and turn an audit into a true performance driver.

It’s a big win/win/win if the field audit team can be viewed as a welcomed partner providing activities designed to strengthen operational weaknesses and improve performance.

1. Embrace a Coaching Mentality

You can create a culture that fully embraces the value your field audit team brings to the franchisees and overall organization. If you can encourage the auditors to see their role as being more of a coach than an inspector, this message will be heard throughout the organization. It’s especially critical to establish clear expectations from the start for brand new franchisees that the field audit team is their advocate.

2. Never Stop Improving

You can share field audit results with each of the head office teams, i.e., finance, operations, and development. If these internal groups take a proactive approach in soliciting the field audit team’s feedback, potential risk arising from the implementation of new or changed procedures may be prevented.

3. Expand the Scope

As more internal groups engage with the audit team, the internal culture will begin integrating the field auditors into other business activities. This can expand the scope of audit’s role beyond the “basics” and into newer initiatives that strengthen operations even more. For example, the head office Human Resource team can more effectively align with the franchisee’s business by using the audit process. This further enhances the sense of partnership amongst all the players.

4. Receive Ideas from Everyone

Outside of the formal audit process, it’s important to engage franchisees in open dialogue where they may collaborate on solutions and operational efficiencies. This communication can further solidify the audit-franchisee partnership by building trust and respect where franchisees feel heard and part of the solution.

5. Give the Audit Team a Voice

One way to elevate the profile of the field audit team is to encourage them to proactively build relationships through periodic communication via newsletters or blogs. The field audit team can provide helpful tips, best practices and relevant industry trends. This is also an opportunity for them to demonstrate their coaching approach as they avoid phrases such as “Corrective Action” and instead talk about “Opportunities for Improvement”.

By Johnni Cody, CFC, CIA, CRMA, CBA

Johnni is the owner of Scio Group, LLC. She has over 20 years of years of experience and expertise in the fields of internal audit, compliance, risk management, and fraud.  Johnni is also certified in franchise consulting, internal audit, and risk management.