Preparing for an ATF audit is just as important as the audit itself. If you want a seamless audit experience, it’s going to be in the preparation. The great news is, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re preparing in the right way since you already know what an ATF audit entails. Inventory accuracy, matching your bound book entries, and those 4473s need to be completed and retained flawlessly!
A lot of FFLs believe that an inspection might not happen to them, but soon find out that ATF is a lot like jury duty in that you never know when you’ll be selected. One thing that we know for sure from our ATF Audit blog post is that ATF can conduct an unannounced audit on your FFL once a year.
When you go about your internal audit, you’ll initially want to inspect what you expect from your team. With 4473s, the primary focus is on quality control and making sure that every 4473 completed in your FFL is done so as accurately as possible. Taking the time to inspect that your compliance standards are being met by your team and your FFL(s) will prepare you and your business for the day ATF arrives at your front door.
In this blog post, when we refer to “FFL audit”, we mean your business preparing an internal audit. When we refer to “ATF audit”, we mean the ATF visiting your business and conducting their audit.
FFL Audit Best Practices
Review your 4473s
When you go in to look at your ATF Form 4473s, you’re specifically going to be checking them for completion and accuracy. The 4473s are generally filled out by someone else, but it’s important to look and make sure that all of the boxes are checked and applicable lines were filled in with the RIGHT information. Don’t mistake a line being filled out with an assumption that the correct required information was provided! If you’ve looked at 4473s before, then you’ll be able to almost immediately notice if something looks off or wrong.
According to the ATF, seven of the top 10 most cited violations are found to be incomplete or inaccurate ATF Form 4473. This can be easily avoided with just a simple review process completed before the sale is completed and with a required internal review of your 4473s once the forms are placed in their forever home in a file.
Set a Schedule
Depending on your volume and staffing levels, you’ll want to make sure that you’re reviewing at least some of your 4473’s, if not all of them, on a regular basis. Whether you review every 4473 or a number of forms that you are comfortable with, doing so monthly is an industry best practice. There’s something to be said about looking at something with fresh eyes, and reviewing 4473s is no different!
We’ve heard from numerous FFLs that a monthly cadence is the perfect sweet spot for their businesses to maintain consistency while also being thorough in the review process. By reviewing your forms consistently, you’re ensuring your ATF audit will go as smoothly as possible.
Stay Up to Date
Sometimes rules change, especially at the state level. It’s always important to stay in the know about what is expected of you and your FFL. The pressure isn’t all on you, though! You can easily stay in the know by tuning in to professionals who give updates to compliance, like our friends at FFL Guard.
Using 4473 Cloud for a Seamless FFL Audit
4473 Cloud truly elevates the FFL audit game. Because these 4473s are stored digitally, preparing yourself for an ATF audit is incredibly easy. Let’s talk about the ways that 4473 Cloud makes your FFL audit so simple.
Know Who is Reviewing and Correcting Your 4473s
Some employees at your business might not have the expertise or experience to properly review and correct ATF Form 4473s. Or maybe you’re just not ready to give them that access yet. With 4473 Cloud, you can assign users with varying levels of permissions. Based on these permissions, an employee might be able to merely review a 4473, but not correct it. Other employees, and yourself as the primary user, will be able to review and correct the 4473, if needed.
Assign Who Reviews the ATF Form 4473
When you log in to your 4473 Cloud digital storage vault, you’ll see a documents section where you can easily assign specific 4473s to certain users. That user will receive an email notification to review the document(s) using their 4473 Cloud log in. Depending on their permissions, they’ll be able to review (and correct, if applicable) the 4473s that were assigned to them.
Ensure the ATF F 4473 is Getting Reviewed
With 4473 Cloud, you are able to see if the assigned 4473s are being reviewed by the appropriate user. It’s a fail safe for you to ensure your employees are doing what’s being asked of them.
This is especially helpful when things get busy and tasks may fall to the wayside. Not only does 4473 Cloud ensure accountability at all levels, it also allows for visibility and validation that certain steps are being completed within your business that protect your most vital asset – your FFL.
Color Coding for Accuracy
Sometimes the easiest way to get someone’s attention is with actual flags. With 4473 Cloud, we incorporated green, yellow, and red flags for your business to use, and here’s our thought process behind it and why so many FFLs love this feature:
- Green flag: this 4473 is good to go! It’s been reviewed, no errors were found and green means go, move on to the next 4473.
- Yellow flag: This 4473 needs another pair of eyes on it just to make sure everything is kosher. It might have an error or it might not, but one can never be to sure, so slow down and get a second opinion.
- Red flag: STOP! Something is wrong with this 4473 and needs attention by a manager or a responsible person. A correction needs to be made, or the situation resolved by a user with the right permission level to do so.
As you can see, this flag system helps in making sure that everyone in the business knows exactly where priorities lie with your 4473s, and what needs attention sooner rather than later. Once a 4473 is flagged yellow or red, the user can then reassign the 4473 to a manager or responsible person on the FFL for review and corrections as necessary. Talk about accountability at all levels of your organization!
An ATF audit shouldn’t be this dark ominous cloud looming over you. We hear a lot of FFLs are fearful of that fateful day, and it shouldn’t be like that. ATF compliance audits should just feel like a regular day at your business. And, they will be if you’ve prepared correctly. Proper internal auditing techniques really do transfer to a seamless “game-day” audit.
Since we know what to expect from the ATF during the audit, it’s easy to know how and what to prepare for. One great feather in your cap is that you have 4473 Cloud ready to help you with both the preparation and the actual ATF audit. We’re ready to help when you’re ready to pull the trigger.
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