Has 3 Grocery Audits under my belt. Will you share your bag of tricks to get these done easier?

Anyone care to share their secrets or strategy on how to note, and do these shops efficiently. Getting ready to tackle electronics here in Chicago.


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The grocery shops I do require one interaction in addition to the cashier. I make notes on my "shopping list" or on my cell phone or in the bathroom which I have to check. Is this what you meant?
If you look around a grocery you will see there are those customers who are clueless and throwing whatever into their cart because they don't remember what they need, you will see those with a hand basket or no basket picking up a few specific items, and you will see those with lists and very likely a pen or pencil if it is a paper list or referring to their cell phone if it is not. I am a paper and pencil list shopper even when not on a shop so it is perfectly reasonable to have the departments I must check, perhaps the question I need to ask and a little space to note outcomes in my own code. Refer to your guidelines and make your reminder notes on your phone or on a paper that easily crams into your pocket. It makes these shops easy peasy.
You need to be more specific. Is this a competitive pricing audit with hundreds of items to locate and report prices for? Is this an announced audit where you have to check the dates on meat packages? An announced audit where you have to check expiration dates on a certain number of items in every department the store? I have personally done the last 2 types as well as other types as well, but I will never do the competititve pricing one. What type of grocery audit are you asking about? My suggestion is that you mention the store (but not the MSC), because some MSCs do audits in more than one store.
@ishop2getpaid wrote:

Anyone care to share their secrets or strategy on how to note, and do these shops efficiently. Getting ready to tackle electronics here in Chicago.


Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
Go alone. My kids usually go with me on the grocery routes I do, and my husband occasionally tags along if he's not working. I save the questionnaires to Dropbox so I can refer to them if I need to, take extensive notes on my phone, and double-check everything before I leave the store. (I also discussed taking my kids along with the scheduler I usually work with, and confirmed that bringing them isn't an issue.)

The only "tricks" I rely on are taking extremely detailed employee descriptions (based on what the MSC with the most detailed description requirements wants) and completing my evaluations in the order listed on the questionnaire so I don't have to search through my notes when I write the reports. Really, though, experience is a great teacher. The more similar projects you do, the easier they'll get.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/23/2015 09:46PM by frugalmommy.
I have a little spiral notebook I keep in my pocket. It has a real shopping list on the page I leave it opened to and the shop notes and department questions on the page below that. I set it in the top section of the shopping cart under the weekly sales flier.

I make a mental note of the departments I need to shop and make a single clockwise circle around the store and shop the departments in that order like a normal customer instead of rolling across the store several times.

I will make my observations about open/closed registers and customer groups right before I evaluate the RR, so I can write that information on my shopping list in the RR.
I break my shopping list into the departments needed to shop and items I need in that dept., then make reasonable notes to questions I'm needing to answer.
For example: "Bakery Do you do donations to schools?" or "When do you mark your bread down?"
I don't take my Down Syndrome daughter, my 6 yr old, or 3 yr old, but my 16 yr old and 18 yr old help me with keeping identities straight without taking too many notes where it might get suspicious.

For open/reveal audits I take notes and pictures- especially for competitive pricing. I do that when shopping for my family. Several schedulers have told me a good rule of thumb is if it would make you think "shopper" when you see it done, when doing an anonymous shop- don't do it.

Good Luck & Happy Shopping!!!
for the grocery stores I do, it specifically says do NOT bring kids....so check with the specific MSC/client requirements..some do allow kids, some don't
If you do bring kids, I would make sure they are older (I would bring my teenager if he wanted to go and he would either shop on his own or there was almost always a friend of his he would find in the store) or bring someone to help you watch the kids. Little kids get restless and frustrated that shopping is taking too long.

Shopping across Indiana but mostly around Indianapolis.
I've done lots of grocery shops and I use a small hardback notebook with my list like several have recommended. Duck into a quiet place to do notes. I often get distracted by my "real" shopping needs and try to focus on noticing just where the employees are. I stand back to watch the deli staff and pick the person who's name tag I can see. (Deli's and meat counters are difficult because name tags seem to be hidden by the high counters.) Groceries is the hardest to find help, i.e. canned goods, dry cereals, because there is no one central location and there are lots of merchandisers. If I see an employee, even though it's out of any planned order, I go there. I don't have any preset questions but tend to pick up a nearby can or box and ask whatever comes to mind. On check-out, the cashier's name is on the receipt for a double-check. I like certain stores because they are all layed-out the same and I just go from town to town. I'm finding there is a change in MS companies and the latest ones who've taken over are paying far less than earlier ones.
My primary shops are for 2 mid-sized grocery chains in SoCal (used to be 3 before Safeway/Von's was purchased by a competitor). I've done over 1,200 shops in the last 4 years, both in NorCal & SoCal. I usually do 2-4 shops a week, 2 per day. Most grocery shops are similar with different levels of required detail. I use a 3 x 81/2 single sheet from a notepad that realtors give away. On one side is my grocery list, on the back is a check list of requirements. I keep the sheet folded over showing my grocery list and fill out the requirements as I move to the next dept, sales floor, etc.

The following is the basic format I use and modify slightly for each client. I start with the parking lot and finish with the RR check. Usually these shops take me 35 - 45 min + 20 min report.
Clean Problem
Pkg Lot Y N
10+ Loose carts? Y N
Entrance (Clean, excess debris?)
(this section is for each dept employee interaction, name description, etc dept name is abbreviated for space on actual form)
(Name, description e.g. sex, hair color, height, weight, age, glasses, etc, items fresh & appealing? sample offered? bakery/deli)
Bakery Fred, M, Gray, 6', 160, 40's, glasses telera rolls stale or hard
Deli Maria, F, Blk, 5'6, 135, 30's no sample offered
Produce BNV (badge not visible) M, blnd, 5'8, 150, 20's, Did not greet
Sales Floor (Some want to know if they anticipated/ answered a question or offered to escort to item ) I ask where's the canned gravy or taco shells)
Checker Name, etc, did checker greet, ask if you need help out, thank you for your biz?
Bagger (if applicable)

Aisles (Blocked or items blocking displays):
#5 Paper products blocking shelf displays
#6 B'day card display partially blocking aisle

Lanes # open/customer count, Regular or Express or self check, area clean?

Lane R E SCO
3/3 4/1, 5/4, 6/3 1/1, 2/2 11/4
Clean? Y/N Y/N Y/N Y/N Y/N Y/N Y/N

RR (clean, dirty floor, overflowing trash can?)

Exit (Clean, excess debris?)

This is a simplified general outline for one of my chains. The other chain is similar with less employee detail.
Hope this is helpful.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/26/2015 12:44AM by snarf47.
@lbw1000 wrote:

If you do bring kids, I would make sure they are older (I would bring my teenager if he wanted to go and he would either shop on his own or there was almost always a friend of his he would find in the store) or bring someone to help you watch the kids. Little kids get restless and frustrated that shopping is taking too long.

It's doable with small children, but it requires advance planning and coordination. Having another adult along to watch/entertain the kids is always preferable, because you can have them take the kids out to the car if they get too restless. If you have to do it yourself, put the kids in the cart so they're not distracting you by running around and making you chase them down. Devices can help; bring a Kindle or tablet with appropriate content for older kids, or put Toddler Lock or similar apps on a cheap prepaid phone for the really little ones. I bring spill proof cups with water, and always have snacks (fruit snacks, granola, pretzels, etc.) in my purse to distract them. The younger one loves hunting in my purse for snacks. My older kid likes keeping an eye out for available samples in the stores we go to, and they both get to help with the actual shopping by picking out fruits or deli items.

I actually find having them along to be pretty convenient, because the inevitable "I have to go potty!" or "I want a drink from the drinking fountain, not the cup!" complaints give me a great reason to be going back and forth across the store. But again, the important thing is to make sure it's okay for them to be along. My scheduler knows how old mine are, and I occasionally mention them in my reports if it's relevant, like when an employee interacts with them while I'm interacting with another employee and doesn't immediately greet me because of that.

My other trick for dealing with the kids on routes is knowing where the nearest parks are. I start my route as early as I'm allowed to, which gives me plenty of time to have a picnic lunch at a park with the kids in the middle of it. They're a lot more agreeable once they're fed and have a chance to run around.
snarf47, that is really helpful!

I do a warehouse grocery store that's not too bad. I did a local natural foods store (similar to Whole Foods) that was just awful. First of all the store was very small, they are building a new one but for now it's small and crowded, I felt obvious as a shopper because I had to ask someone something in every single department and sometimes it was the same people in different departments. The restroom I had to check was way down some stairs, weaving through pallets of products in the basement, the report was 95% narrative and took almost 2 hours to complete.

Never again, well maybe when they open the bigger new store. smiling smiley
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