It has been a long day, but you have arrived at the final location you are to mystery shop. You head toward the doors and . . .uh, oh. Is that a “Closed” sign you see?
To avoid this problem in the future, take a minute or two to check the hours of business before heading out to do the shop. Even if you think you know their hours. I once had to reschedule a shop because I was certain a location was open later than it actually was. Checking first would have saved the need for an embarrassing email (“I’m sorry, but I am an idiot . . .”) to the scheduler, asking if I could do the shop the following day.
Web sites often list the hours along with other location information, such as address, phone number, maps, etc. However, I would not trust the web site. Hours can change without the change making its way to the web site.
The best way is to call the location. You may be required to make a phone call prior to your visit anyway, so use that as your opportunity to verify the exact location and hours of operation.
It is also a good idea not to show up ten minutes before closing time. Many guidelines will specifically say that you are not to begin the shop within 30 to 60 minutes of closing. Even if that is not part of your instructions, showing up at closing time will not give an accurate and fair report.
So you know how to prepare for the next shop, but what should you do now, standing in front of a closed business?
Obviously, you can not complete the shop now. Your next move depends on the shop deadline. If you have more time to do the shop, plan to do it another day before the deadline. This may be inconvenient, and you may even have to make a special trip back, but showing up after closing time was your error. You are still responsible for completing the shop.
What if the shop had to be completed today? That was the case of the shop I messed up on. There was only one day to do it, and I missed it. I immediately went home and sent an email to the scheduler, apologizing profusely for my error. I asked if it would be possible to do the shop the following day, and said I would the do the shop in the morning and immediately submit the report.
I was lucky. The scheduler replied that it would be fine if I did the shop the next day. They had enough cushion built in that a one-day delay was not a problem, in this case.
If she had said no, I would have apologized again and asked if there was anything I could do to make up for my mistake. Do not be afraid to grovel when you are in the wrong (as I was). Own your mistake.
One good thing that came from this is that now I always check the hours before doing a shop. Learn from my mistake, and you will, too.