Mystery shopping a restaurant is more than getting paid to have dinner. Restaurant mystery shops require lots of details: names, timings, and much more. Do your preparation, follow the guidelines, and make good observations to do a great job on your shop report. Here are some tips for making your next restaurant shop easier and more successful.
The time of visit is important. You will be given a range of times, such as between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. for a dinner shop. Don’t do the shop outside of those hours.
You may be asked to get many timings during your shop. Fast food shops often require several timings to the second. Use a stopwatch with a lap timer to record multiple times. The stopwatch should be concealed in a pocket so you can time discreetly.
A digital recorder with a timer can be a good way to capture timings at fast food or full-service restaurants.
Restaurant shops often allow or require that you take someone with you. Your companion must understand any requirements.
Refer to the guidelines regarding how many people may accompany you. If the guidelines state two adults only, it means exactly that. Don’t take more adults and don’t take your children along. Having four people in your party but asking for two checks is not the same as having two people in your party. Don’t even think about it.
If the shop includes a bar visit, pay attention to whether you are asked to visit the bar before or after dinner. Bar visits may allow you to order one or two alcoholic beverages per person. Typically, they may not require that both people order alcohol, but one of you will probably have to.
Don’t be a big spender and order the most expensive items on the menu. Be a typical diner. That goes for tipping, too. The guidelines usually allow for a tip in the range of 15 – 20%.
Plan ahead. Go to the restaurant’s web site and download the menu prior to your visit. You and your companion can plan what you will order. That way, during the shop you can focus on getting information and not studying the menu. You can also think of a question to ask about the food, if that is a requirement of the shop.
Don’t make notes at the table, and NEVER bring out the report form in the restaurant.
The report must be objective. The food isn’t “poor” because you don’t like anchovies.
Above all, as with any shop, be familiar with the shop guidelines so that you are able to meet all of the shop requirements.
Cathy Stucker is the author of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual.