The Seven C’s of C-Store Audits

The Seven C’s of C-Store Audits

The Seven C’s of C-Store Audits

Practice makes perfect. More than 40 years of experience have taught us the right and wrong way to conduct an audit. We call the right way our “Seven C’s.” We use this system for every audit, every client in every division nationwide. These audit best practices are designed to help you get accurate, impartial insights into your operations.

Apply these best practices to ensure a successful audit each and every time!

Contracting with the store manager

  • Clarify expectations using an audit checklist for the manager with time frames for completion.
  • Walk the store with the manager upon arrival to identify areas needing additional prep, hidden products, pricing and expected vendor activity.
  • Check in every hour with the manager.

Consistent Store Layout

  • Map each store into smaller geographic sections to make the comparisons manageable.
  • Movable displays and end caps should be separate counts.
  • Label each section or display with a general product description.

Crew flow

  • Count merchandise as you pass it. Don’t skip around the store.
  • Use a tagging process to mark each section as you count it.
  • The only time you should vary your crew flow is to count vendor delivery areas first.
  • Count cigarettes and other high ticket and fast selling items first.

Counting the store

  • Treat the audit as a treasure hunt. Your job is to find the hidden merchandise.
  • If you can’t see it, don’t count it. Never accept store personnel’s counts.
  • Count with your eyes. Touching product you can see is inefficient.
  • Memorize case counts and height and depth. It’s sometimes easier to count what’s missing than what is there.
  • Utilize a data collection device you can operate by touch and attach to your belt to free up your hands.
  • Vendor and store credits should be listed separately from the physical count and clearly labeled.

Comparing figures

  • Generate a report comparing today’s counts by section to the previous two audits. Review this report with the manager and identify areas to recount.
  • No one is perfect. The objective is to find errors and correct them. This raises your credibility and helps you to avoid making the same error again.
  • When in doubt check the count.

Closing the audit

  • Never give an auditor the book figures until the manager has reviewed the physical count comparison report.
  • Leave the store in the same or better condition as you found it.
  • Both the store manager and the auditor should complete an independent evaluation of today’s audit.


  • Good communication is the key to a good audit. Questions and concerns should be discussed right away.
  • Establish a protocol for getting help. Recognize problems early and call right away.

Want to make sure you get accurate, insightful audits every time? Give us a call at 800-777-9414 or fill out a short contact form, and we’ll be in touch.

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