Companies, at times, will seek some very specific feedback on the performance of their operations. Most places that are food or retail oriented will make use of people who appear to be regular customers to come in and survey the staff and the appearances of the business. These “regular customers” are far from regular. They are Mystery Shoppers! You can get paid or reimbursed for visiting a business, purchasing their wares and inspecting many aspects of the whole experience. What could be better? Getting paid to go out to eat!
Rachel and I have both been involved in mystery shopping for a few years now. We started when we lived in Sacramento and went quite often to hardware stores, fast food restaurants, nicer sit-down restaurants, paper supply warehouses, you name it. You can’t make a living off of it, but in most cases you get a free meal or ream of paper! Depending on the complexity of the shop, there may also be a fee paid for just performing the shop, along with the reimbursement.
When I worked at a certain office supply company, they relied greatly on these mystery shops to review a store’s performance. It was interesting as we as a staff would become familiar with patterns and behaviors displayed by these shoppers, it would become even more important than if a Regional VP was visiting or a Loss-Prevention audit was going on in the store. Can you imagine if both were going on the same day?? The results of these shops weighed very heavily and performance management was swift and harsh, if needed. If we kept scoring highly month after month, our store would be a star in the district. Now being on the other side of the survey, it’s very interesting to see how it all works. Sometimes its even a bit entertaining.
Last night, Rachel and I performed our first restaurant shop since we’ve lived in Utah. We ate at Chili’s right near our house. We were supposed to order drinks, an appetizer, a salad or soup, two entrees, and a dessert. We generally don’t have room for salad or desserts, but always have chili queso to start off. We are big fans of Chili’s and were lucky to get a shop for them. Let me tell you the night was a disappointment. We were seated near a large party and our waitress must have been serving the entire restaurant by the way she was acting. We have normally gotten pretty good levels of service at this place but the last couple times were a bit rough.
All in all, Mystery Shopping is a lot of fun and definitely worth the time investment. I will need to add in some links later to get you started looking at starting it yourself. I recommend it. It’s great fun and helps you gain more respect for those in these businesses.