Retailers Now Is The Time
Have you heard of the runaway success of the burger
franchise Five Guys?
Whats one of the big reasons Five Guys is wildly
successful? They send mystery shoppers out twice a week
to all locations. The brothers who run the operation also
constantly visit the restaurants.
Five Guys knows you need to inspect what you expect. High
standards each and every day ensure the right employees
do the right things.
Training new retail employees to 100% and then making
them work for managers who dont run the shifts up
to high standards is spinning your companys wheels
and lowering the brand perception in customers
That means it destroys profits. Theres only one way
to avoid that: an ongoing program of mystery shops.
The number one thing business owners tell me is, I
just need more customers. Wrong, you need them to
return. You cant attract your whole neighborhood to
try you, deliver lousy results and expect just getting
more bodies in the door will work.
You can burn through a neighborhood with bad
word-of-mouth and, without mystery shoppers, never know
Five Guys franchise with over 1000 locations sees the
value in nearly 50,000 shops in a year, shouldnt
you? Oh right, the money. You might not blink at spending
$500 per month in advertising, but balk at spending a
fraction of that on measuring customers experience
in your store. Thats just plain dumb. The profit
comes from the people wanting to return, not the discount
promotions you run to entice new shoppers.
And please, get out of the idea that mystery shops are a
way to spy on employees for compliance. Thats what
theyll think if you dont present it
correctly. Its also what many lesser services use
as their logo.
If you want to fire someone, you dont need a
mystery shop to prove it. Heres the thing, if you
arent servicing your customers the way they believe
you should, you open the door to competitors eager to
take your business.
Its not what your regulars tell you, its what the
new customers tell you that matters most. And one shop
every six months is so random that it reveals little.
Why? Because a mystery shop is just a moment in time. You
arent that good if you get 100% and you arent
that bad if you get a 50%. But over time patterns emerge
that make managing your customer experience much clearer.
11 Benefits of Mystery Shops:
01) Monitored and measured service performance
02) Improves customer retention
03) Makes employees aware of what is important in serving
04) Monitors facility conditions
05) Ensures product/service delivery quality.
06) Supports promotional programs
07) Allows for competitive analyses between locations
08) Identifies training needs and sales opportunities
09) Ensures positive customer relationships on the front
10) Enforces employee integrity and knowledge.
11) Supports hustle by employees to meet customers.
But not all mystery shopping companies are the same. Far
One client of mine told me how he found the shoppers had
never even BEEN to his store. Another client said
shed tried mystery shoppers but it
didnt work. When I looked at her survey
it came screaming off the page why it wasnt
successful because every question was subjective.
Did you feel valued as a guest? Did
they attempt to meet your needs? Did you feel
Shoot me. What would feedback have looked like to the
employee who got a low score on her shop? Gee
Sally, the customer didnt feel valued as a guest.
Try harder. Reminds me of the old days in chorus
when the conductor yelled at us to sing in
tune. If Sally or the choristers knew how to do
that, they would have done it.
Questions on a mystery shop need to be black and white.
The employee either did or didnt say, Good
morning, good afternoon or good evening. They
either described a product using features (it has) with
benefits (to the customer) or it didnt. In
addition, you need a narrative so compelling you can
actually see the transaction in your store.
The final three questions I always ask at the end are the
most important section. One of mine is, Would you
be willing to drive past a competitor to return to this
location based on the service you received today?
I work with clients to get their mystery shopper surveys
just right and actionable. One client with 14 locations
is now tops in her franchise; anothers average
check continues to rise. Is it a mystery? Nope, a mystery
Yes you can try to save money by putting those surveys on
your receipts and training your cashiers to circle
the web address and tell them what the prize is but
thats not a true judge of the experience. Those who
had a rotten experience will be looking for some
compensation and many will quickly check off whatever
radio buttons they need to qualify their entry for the
Oh and one more thing
When you use a mystery
shopping company, dont just print it out and stick
on the employee bulletin board. Good or bad it should be
gone over with a supervisor in private with who did what
when. Then they should go over it in private with the
employees who were on.
Only then, after those who were most responsible for the
score have been counseled should you share, ideally in a
store meeting. Delete the names, dates and times so they
arent guessing who was responsible or youll
defeat the learning for the team.
To succeed in a lurching economy, as competitors cry the
blues and leave your market, you need to consistently
provide clear expectations and demand high standards of
well-trained employees. Cutting another shift or saving
ten cents on freight is like a poor marksman looking at
the edge of the target. The real money is on the
bulls eye of selling the customer.