Question from a mystery shopper:
I did my first shop the other day, and the hardest part was getting the timings. This was a fast food shop, and they wanted times down to the second! My watch has a second hand, but it was kind of hard to see without staring at the watch. Do other shoppers use stopwatches, or digital watches or what? I think there must be some secret way to do this that I do not know about.
There are many ways to get accurate timings. Some secret shoppers use digital voice recorders. They record the shop, then use cues in the recording to verify the times. Some shoppers use small stopwatches they can conceal in a pocket. If you want to use a wristwatch, there are many that will make it easy to get the timings you need for your report. Your best choice will probably be a digital sports watch.
Many sports watches come with a stopwatch feature that includes split (or lap) timing. Split timers can capture a series of timings that you can retrieve after the shop visit. Note the time you are starting the shop, and start the stopwatch. When each thing that you are to time occurs, you press a button to capture the time. When the shop is complete (or at least the parts you have to time) you can stop the timer. Here is how it might work on a fast food shop: You get in line, note the time and press start. When you reach the counter, you press the button to capture the elapsed time. At each point you need a timing, you press the button again, so you press it when they tell you your total, when they count back your change and when they give you your food. After leaving the restaurant, you look at the watch and note that it took 1 minute 7 seconds to reach the counter, they gave you your total 42 seconds later, counted back your change 31 seconds after that, and you got your food 1 minute 56 seconds after that.
Before using any kind of timer on a shop, practice with it. You need to be able to operate the timer without looking at it or drawing attention to yourself. Know where the buttons are and how to quickly find them by feel.
Digital sports watches are not expensive. You can find several models at Amazon.com or at your local discount or department stores.