Jill Burns, of Creative Strategies, answered some questions for us about mystery shopping for them. Creative Strategies provides mystery shopping and market research services to a wide range of industries, including restaurants and medical marijuana. Here is what Jill had to say:
What do you need from the ideal shopper?
- Honesty, integrity, communication and dependability are paramount always.
- All information must be accurate, grammatically correct, and detailed.
- We require that full narratives are written. Strong writing skills are a must.
- Read all e-mails that are sent to you (in their entirety) and when it doubt, always ask questions. We are always available to help.
- If there is any reason why an assignment can’t be performed as scheduled, make informing us a priority. While we understand that sometimes things come up, it is irresponsible and unacceptable to accept an assignment and fail to perform it and even worse when you don’t communicate it before the fact (not after).
- Report what you are asked to report on and present observations. Your purpose as a shopper is to report on what you observed and experienced and how it made you feel.
- Unless requested to do so, avoid complaining about anything (problems with the food unless something is inedible, problems with service, being overcharged, being undercharged, etc.) – save it for the report! Never ask to speak to a manager and do NOT ever take it upon yourself to contact the restaurant on your own after a shop has been completed.
- Must have Microsoft Office with Excel and Word and a scanner or fax.
What types of shops does your company do? What types of reports are used?
We work with restaurants and also Medical Marijuana dispensaries in Arizona. We use Microsoft Excel and Word. No audio or video recordings are required though pictures of food or beverage items are appreciated especially when they are not as they should have been.
What would you like shoppers to know about your company and your clients?
We are a professional mystery shopping firm based in Arizona since 1995 and with more than 40 years of corporate customer service experience. Restaurants are moderate to upscale. Some of our clients have been with us as long as we’ve been in business. Some of our shoppers have been with us all of that time as well. We have relationships with all of our shoppers. Finally, we are a reimbursement only firm (no shop fee). For some assignments, we will also cover parking. We always want a minimum of 2 people to go (no single person shops except Medical Marijuana dispensary assignments). We let you know everything up front so there are no surprises. Maximum reimbursement amounts are designed to cover expenses for 2 people including food, drinks, tax and tip. Currently, our assignments are only in Arizona.
What is the best way for a new shopper to get in the door and get a first assignment?
The first step is to go onto our www.strategz.com website and complete our short mystery shopper form. We will then be in touch with you.
How can shoppers qualify for your best (highest-paying and most interesting and enjoyable) shop assignments?
First and foremost, do a great job on any shops that you are assigned. We try to give all of our shoppers a chance. When someone helps us out on a shop, we try to reward them.
How long after a shop are your shoppers typically paid? How do you pay?
We generate checks to our shoppers within the first few days of the following month so it is never more than 30 days from the date all of their satisfactorily completed report files are received. Example: for the month of April, checks are mailed out within the first few days of May.
What is your biggest problem/pet peeve with shoppers?
Not following directions, not completing reports correctly, not completing assignments in a timely manner (24 hour turnaround), poor communication/being hard to reach or not responding in a timely manner when we contact you about questions, complaining when we ask you not to, signing up for a bar shop when you don’t drink adult beverages, and doing anything during the course of an evaluation that would make you memorable.
Anything else you want to add? Any funny shopper stories?
Many years ago, one of our clients thought they’d caught one of our shoppers when they found a little note pad at a table that had been inadvertently left behind. They were sure they remembered who the people were and smirked with delight that they’d been so savvy about finding it and showing it to us. When they gave us the pad, we could see that many comments were written about meals from a variety of restaurants. Initially we were disappointed to think that one of our shoppers had done something we ask them not to do (that is, take notes at the table – a definite no, no). But upon closer inspection, we determined that it must have been a food critic who was conducting an evaluation! We were the ones who had smiles on our faces when we left as our clients thought that we’d been out-foxed!