How Frequently Should I Shop My Business?

When a small business owner is considering a mystery shopping program, one of the first questions they typically ask themselves is, “how frequently should I mystery shop my business?”. There is no “one size fits all” answer, and some providers may simply tell you, “more”! We believe that it’s very customer-specific, and depends on a few things. Below are some questions to ask yourself when trying to figure this “number” out.

What's your goal?

Mystery shopping can be used to answer questions, solve issues, create a reward/incentive program, and validate processes and policies. Before you bring mystery shoppers into your business, it’s important for them to understand why they’re there in the first place. To pinpoint your reasons for starting a mystery shopping program, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a specific problem you’re trying to identify or disprove?
  • Are you using mystery shopping as a reward/incentive for your employees caught doing something well?
  • If you are using it as a reward/incentive, should you give everyone the same chance to be shopped, or will you reward the team as a whole?
  • Are you seeking validation that your processes and policies for customer interactions are being followed?

What are your operating hours?

If you own a restaurant that serves all dayparts or a retail store with very specific hours, you may have unique customer experiences based on the time of day. For example, your morning staff may be sluggish and rude toward guests, whereas your night crew is friendly and helpful toward customers. As a general rule of thumb, the greater your operating hours, the more mystery shops you’ll need for a holistic picture of your customer experience.

How much information can you process?

As a small business owner, you likely have your hands full running your business. How much time will you be able to dedicate to review the information provided by the mystery shoppers?

Mystery shopping reports should contain a story-like, detailed recap of the shoppers’ interactions with your managers and associates. Typically, evaluation reports are sent back to the client within 48-72 hours.

Too many mystery shops can sometimes overwhelm small business owners with the influx of data. The frequency of shops should be heavily based on your workload.

How quickly can you act?

The second-worst thing to do with a mystery shopping program, after bad design at the front-end, is to not act quickly on the information you receive. Reviewing reports and findings with your team quickly, recognizing them for a job well done or counseling them where issues/opportunities were identified, is vital to success. Whether you can do this multiple times per month or week is a strong consideration only you can make.

What's your budget?

With the right partner, mystery shopping can be very affordable for small business owners. But at the end of the day, everyone has a budget. The more mystery shops you want to conduct, the more money it will cost. However, small businesses can see great return on investment with mystery shopping. In fact, mystery shopping helps businesses see an average growth rate of over 10 percent.

Ready to start your mystery shopping program?

MysteryShopMe offers affordable small business mystery shopping and customer survey solutions. With our self-service program, small business owners find it reassuring to know that there is no contract or long-term commitment required when placing an order. Regardless of how often you shop, just one report can help you gain insight into what’s working and what’s not and may even prompt you to dive deeper, purchase more shops and really find out the “why.” Find your industry to get started with a small business solution today.

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