Add mystery shopping to your toolbox
A few years ago, I became a victim of the stagnating economy. Messages of condolence followed, including one from a former boss of mine. She expressed her sympathies and explained she might have a line on some part-part-time work, if I was interested. Intrigued, I took the bait and wrote her back.
It was then that she revealed that she had a secret hobby.
She was a mystery shopper.
And more baffling, she LIKED it.
She explained that mystery shopping might be a way for me to enjoy some leisure pursuits while getting paid to do so. Sounds good, right?
I signed up and found a campaign evaluating a movie theatre. Sounded great – I just had to make sure that the ticket takers were wearing their proper hats, the popcorn was not burnt, submit a report, and I would get to see the movie for free!
… after they refunded you two months later…and if you can make the Wednesday Matinee (starting in 10 minutes)…and if you pass the pre-qualifying quiz…
Fortunately, I returned to the land of the employed before too long, and promptly forgot all about mystery shopping.
I didn’t think about it again until I read “New Profits in Wireless Retailing” by Ed Legum. Ed devotes several pages to mystery shopping. Turns out it is a great tool for any retailer to have in their toolbox. And most importantly, you can do it yourself.
Legum suggests you don your mystery shopper cap, and head out to evaluate your competitors. Seeing how they do business is a great way to identify areas for improvement in your own business.
Some things to look for include:
- What products and services do they sell? How do they project their image?
- What do their displays look like?
- How knowledgeable/helpful are their salespeople?
- Did they answer your questions? Would you buy from them?
Identify questions that are relevant to your business, and create a report card for each store you visit. This is a quick way to determine how you stack up to the competition.
Definitely much more rewarding than a free movie.