Don't you wish you had eyes in the back of your head, or that you could be a fly on the wall of your restaurant? Ever wonder how your staff performs when you’re not there to keep an eye on things?
There’s a great way to keep tabs, and get an objective perspective on your food, facilities and service from the point of view of your guests. It’s called a Mystery Shop.
Mystery Shoppers are a bit like undercover detectives, hired to visit your establishment and give you a detailed assessment of their dining experience. They come unannounced and anonymously to avoid special treatment, or employees acting on their best behavior just for the review.
There are professional Mystery Shop firms who provide the shoppers and will help you create a customized audit. You can also ask a trusted family member or acquaintance to act as the Mystery Shopper in exchange for a free dinner.
When developing your Mystery Shop audit, review areas such as:
- The Front Entrance
- Restrooms and Dining Room
- Individual Host/ess, Busser and Server Performance
- Overall Staff Performance
- Manager’s Service
- Food & Beverage Quality
- Bar Service & Sales
Completed Mystery Shop reports should feature individual scores for each area reviewed, as well as an overall score. These scores can help identify problems in need of attention, such as poor food presentation, a lack of suggestive selling, or dirty restrooms. You can even identify which employees have skills that need to be reviewed.
Also a chance to "accentuate the positive," Mystery Shops give you the opportunity to reward employees who improve their audit section scores or offer exceptional service. They can also be used as benchmarks to measure management performance for reviews or assigning bonuses.
Systematic and regular Mystery Shops give you detailed feedback to perfect the performance of your operation, and know how your staff performs even when you’re not there. Competition is fierce and loyal customers are your most valuable asset. Make sure you give them an experience they look forward to repeating.
Contact a professional mystery shop firm for additional information. One I use repeatedly is:
Mercantile Systems & Surveys
1145 2nd Street Suite A307
1 (888) 222-8301
In addition, you can contact your state restaurant association for additional mystery shop firms in your area.