Understanding why a particular industry chooses to mystery shop, and how they use the results, is information rarely shared with mystery shoppers…until now. Join us each month for our Industry Insider post.
We understand that evaluating restaurants is one of the primary reasons many people begin mystery shopping. They are excited by the idea of a free meal!
Once you’ve done a typical restaurant shop, however, you learn there is no such thing as a free meal. You have to work for that dinner!
When people typically go out to eat, they are not only looking for a meal – they are looking for an experience. If any part of that experience is not to their satisfaction, they will likely not choose to return to that establishment.
This is true for fast-food as much as it is for fine dining restaurants.
Your expectation at each kind of eating establishment is different in terms of type of food, atmosphere and services, yet you still expect cleanliness, well prepared chow, and to be served by friendly, helpful staff.
You will find those to be the main categories shoppers review during a dining mystery shop. Typically, you observe and comment on:
- the greeting and treatment from employees;
- the quality, temperature and taste of the food; and
- the cleanliness of the restaurant, tabletop, restrooms, and other public areas.
Timing of service and following the company training standards are also of the utmost importance, and you have to be prepared to keep track of timing during most dining visits. After you do a few dining shops, you will become proficient at being ready to remember – or text into your phone – all of the details. Better yet, you can usually bring a friend who can help you remember!
Mystery shopper reports are very important to the restaurant industry. There are so many wheels to keep turning during a typical day that the manager or owner cannot possibly watch every interaction.
Couple the busyness with the high turnover of staff, especially in the chain and franchised establishments, and it becomes vital for management to mystery shop to ensure company standards are maintained for every dining experience, in every single location.
Most restaurant mystery shops are shared with staff as a way of recognizing and rewarding good employees. Findings from the shops help to establish training programs.
We’ve also watched clients change their standards to make them more realistic after recognizing that it’s not always possible to turn around drinks in 2 minutes, or ask a question the exact same way every time. The goal is to make sure that the patron, and the staff member, both enjoy their time together.
Your objective observations, insight and honest opinions (where asked) are essential to restaurant managers and owners.