Amy Melanson, Client Services Manager at Goodwin & Associates, along with the schedulers and editors at Goodwin, recently answered some questions about mystery shopping for them. Goodwin & Associates specializes in providing mystery shopping services to the hospitality industry, although they serve a variety of industries. The company is a member of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association.
Describe the ideal shopper.
The “ideal” shopper is one who is careful to read and follow ALL instructions, completes their visit and their report on time, with receipts turned in, too! The “ideal” shopper also writes a detailed and well-written report. Beyond those two concepts, it would be even more impressive if the shopper was comfortable with the Prophet reporting system and was able to self-assign their own visits, access the instructions and forms, and submit the report without issues.
What types of shops does your company do? What types of reports are used?
We have expanded tremendously over the course of the past year and now offer shops in a wide variety including the ones below:
- Restaurant shops for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner
- Quick-service restaurant shops, including dine-in, take-out, and delivery shops
- Bar loss prevention shops
- Phone shops for hotels, catering calls, banks, and retail
- Overnight hotel stays
- Ski experience shops
- Golfing experience shops
- Movie Theater shops
- Tanning Salon shop
- Bank shops
- Retail shops
- Children’s play facility shops
- Internship evaluation shops
- Aquarium shops
What is the best way for a new shopper to get in the door and get a first assignment?
The best way for a new shopper to get in the door would be to register as a shopper on our website (www.mysteryshopperprogram.com). Once registered, the shopper should log into their account on a semi-frequent basis to find shops in their area. We prefer to fill the majority of our shops using the auto-generated notification emails and self-scheduling and we only reach out by phone or email when it gets later in the shopping period.
How can shoppers qualify for your best (highest-paying and most interesting and enjoyable) shop assignments?
The best way for a shopper to get the most desirable shops is for them to build up a history of being a solid, reliable shopper. Once we are familiar with the fact that they do good work, we would be more likely to use them.
What is your biggest problem/pet peeve with shoppers?
One of our biggest issues are shoppers who accept visits and do not complete them. Many shoppers do not understand the importance of completing visits on their scheduled dates/times. These dates and times are extremely important to our clients so when they are not completed appropriately, we are not fulfilling our obligations to the client.
The other biggest pet peeves come from incomplete or poorly written shop reports. It is frustrating when shoppers do not take into consideration that their job is more than just going on the visit, and that they are expected to write a useful and well-written report. We understand that not every single question can be answered in great length, but do appreciate those who put an obvious effort into writing their reports.
What are the biggest challenges facing mystery shopping companies today?
The biggest challenges facing mystery shopping have to do with the economy. Most mystery shopping deals with services that the everyday person is trying to cut back on in these hard times, (i.e./ dining out, going to the movies, making purchases, etc.). It is harder to find clients who are still willing to pay for this type of seemingly “unnecessary” service. The fact of the matter is, tight times are when mystery shopping is even more critical to our clients. The public is being more selective about when and where they will bother to spend money. If a restaurant is not providing a good product and great service, they are going to lose those opportunities to capture that business.
Another entirely different challenge is that the idea of mystery shopping is so often overshadowed by the scam companies who have ruined the business for many. I speak with many shoppers who admit their hesitance to start actually shopping because they have heard horror stories. We all urge shoppers to go to the MSPA website to verify the companies that they work for, but for many, the idea of shopping is lost as soon as they hear the first scam story.
What do you want shoppers to know–what will make them more valuable to your company?
Always be reliable, honest and upfront with your scheduler. Be honest with yourself and your capabilities. Do not take on more than you can handle. It is better to do a great job on 5 shops and get paid for all of them, than it is to do a poor or below average job on 10 shops and risk not being paid.
Always read every single line of the shop instructions REGARDLESS of whether or not you have done the same or similar shops in the past. Instructions can change from month to month. We have to throw out an alarming number of reports because the shopper did not follow instructions.
Lastly, be AVAILABLE. Often times we need to contact the shopper about something that was said in the report, or to obtain a receipt, or a variety of other reasons. Many times shoppers get right back to us with their answers to our questions. Many times we have to chase people down via email and voice mail days after they turned in the report.
Thanks again to Amy and everyone at Goodwin for taking the time to answer our questions. You can apply to Goodwin & Associates at http://www.mysteryshopperprogram.com.