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Politely Decline Request for Customer Audit

customer audit

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 09:27 PM

Hi!  Looking for some ideas how to politely decline a request for a customer audit (actually, a potential customer).  We have been working with this potential customer off and on for several years trying to secure their business.  We allowed them to audit twice before but still have not received any business.  They have sent in yet another request for an audit, and I hesitate to spend time on another audit without their project moving forward towards some end.  Additionally, we have several other key audits around the same time period. 


Do I say no?  If so, how do I say no without losing potential business.  I want to leave the door open if they are serious about moving forward with us. 


Thanks for your feedback! 


    Food Safety Consultant, Production Supervisor

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:28 PM

This isn't really about the customer. It's about your sales team making you jump through hoops for potential sales that haven't been realized. I might push-back internally, but as QA supporting customer audits is part of our job, and I always see them as low-risk opportunities to push through food safety improvements.


If you don't think it's worth the business, quantify the cost in company time the previous audits have already taken, how much a new audit is going to take, and give that cost to your sales team as a bargaining chip to hopefully turn this potential customer into a real one. 

Austin Bouck
Owner/Consultant at Fur, Farm, and Fork.
Consulting for companies needing effective, lean food safety systems and solutions.

Subscribe to the blog at furfarmandfork.com for food safety research, insights, and analysis.

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 10:51 PM

It is a tricky dance for sure. 


As pointed out earlier, it is certainly a matter that needs to be impressed with/through your sales team. 


Couple of options for response could be

-  Share an equivalent audit report from 2nd Party audits or 3rd party audits if available for the current year (Please check the confidentiality clauses if its done for and paid by your other customers)

- If the potential customer's audit scope is same as before and the previous audits didn't have any significant findings, you could simply state that and share a updated CAPA log. 

- Welcome them to audit you after they officially become your customers, while assuring the current status and improvement made since their last visit. 


Hope you can successfully reason this out!




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Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 05:11 PM

Dear Jenky,


I agree with agasr.


Do you know what this customer is looking for during this audits?

- are there any doubts to choose for you because of deviations the observed in previous audits;

- do you think they are just checking your process to get it done cheaper by a competitor;

- where the previous audits not good prepared/ conducted and are they just coming back for more information, which they have not checked before;

- do you provide a very good lunch to the auditors or are you situated in a touristic interesting area;

Kind Regards,

Madam A. D-tor

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 07:09 PM

Perhaps you could respond:

We allow current customers to audit our facilities provided they have signed a confidentiality/no disclosure agreement with us.


Unfortunately, your sales people may choke on this.

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Posted 28 August 2017 - 02:26 PM

For important potential customers a solution is to first share a copy of your latest GFSI audit report (provided the customer signs a confidentiality/no disclosure agreement).

You might have the same policy for none key (A-list) suppliers.

High potential new suppliers you might consider to agree to an audit (including a sales opportunity for your team), but not sure the point of repeating the audits, unless there was important CAPA to review, nessary to obtain the customer listing.

After two audits you might also have a business card/personal contact direct QA to QA to enable you to verify/discuss the true nature and added value of a new audit.

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Gerard H.

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Posted 29 August 2017 - 09:56 AM

Dear Ms. Jenky,


Yes, this is very delicate. I think it is a question for your sales people, normally they can estimate the potential and the value of having this customer.


In the case that the answer for the audit is "yes", you have done the maximum to let the people overthink the utility of the audit. And than you receive the auditor like any other auditor, to make it a succes!


Having a quality function, such questions and situations are quite normal. Try to see it from an observation standpoint (you are playing the main role) and as a business opportunity.


In the case that you remark that your workload is increasing too much, due to all these audits at the same time, you can consider to hire some extra temporary capacity. That will give you room to handle everything.


Good luck! I hope that the potential customer will choose for your company!


Kind regards,


Gerard Heerkens

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Posted 30 August 2017 - 06:52 AM

First ask them a reason for not having business with you after 2 audits.

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Posted 31 August 2017 - 04:03 PM

We actually think we are a better company after every audit of any type. Every audit is a way to test our systems in a potentially new way. 

We are confident in the way we run our business and we welcome potential clients to come visit. 

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