As businesses are able to begin reopening across the country and people are allowed to roam more freely again, there will be a period of consistent change while new policies and practices need to be implemented. Though isolation may be coming to an end, social distancing is predicted to be a normal part of life for an unknown time frame in the coming months. This means businesses must find a way to adhere to social distancing policies where none were previously in place. However, what those policies will exactly be is uncertain.
That is why internal audits (also known as back of house audits) are more important than ever. Some businesses may take a wait and see approach to COVID compliance, but that would be a mistake. If you are planning on opening your doors during this transition period, making sure that your business remains compliant with ever-changing requirements will be a key component for success. Avoid being hit with costly fines, fees, and in some cases the possibility of losing your liquor or business license.
Let us look at face masks as an example. When COVID-19 first started spreading in the United States, experts were quick to assure the public that face masks should only be worn in public by those experiencing symptoms. Many scientific articles advised that using face masks could cause more harm than good because the virus particles could live on the mask surfaces and potentially infect you and others up to three days later. Slowly, those guidelines changed, suggesting that essential workers and anyone at high risk should wear face masks. More recently, the same experts provided research that showed that face masks should be worn by anyone going out to any public areas, maybe even goggles now? The point is, things are rapidly changing, and your business needs to be ready to adapt.
Applying this example back to reopening a business, shows that there will be operational challenges ahead. If your company decided not to require face masks at the start of reopening, where do you stand on that policy now? If your employees, or your customers are demanding these things is your management team ready to meet these needs? Let us say you have reacted perfectly, following all guidelines, and implementing new policies as circumstances change. What if your employees do not agree? Do you have any systems in place to verify which branches or locations of your business are following corporate policies? Will your managers hold them accountable?
As a country, we can safely assume that more information will come to light about how COVID-19 works, and the best practices to protect against it. Businesses must be able to consistently change their policies and practices and verify that these policies are being adhered to. Internal audits are extremely valuable in this regard. They are a tool for tracking if your businesses operational policies are being appropriately followed and implemented effectively. Do you have a system in place to do this efficiently? You might, many of our clients have some form of system in place. However, Mercantile’s proprietary and cloud-based internal audit system makes this process easy. We track and trend your data for you, secure it privately, and allow you to upload photos, videos, and any other attachments to these audits via your tablet, computer, or mobile device.
If you would like more information on internal audits and how they can benefit your business during this time, please contact us. We are happy to help guide your team through the reopening process to make sure your operations are running smoothly & more importantly safely.
By: Kim Evans – MSI Staff