Mystery shopping is still a very effective way to get an understanding of how your staff is interacting on a daily basis when you are not in the store. Trust me, when the “parents” are away, the “kids” are going to play and that’s happening in your restaurant.
What restaurant owners don’t always understand is how to track the ROI of a mystery shopping program, if outsourced to another company.
As you know, profits can be slim in this industry so we need to be able to track the ROI. So if you are choosing a company to do your mystery shopping, make sure they go deeper than just surface level issues. But I’ll get into that in another post.
Mystery shopping programs will benefit your restaurant in more ways than you can even imagine and one of those ways is boosting your sales and revenue.
I’m glad you asked!
Your Team is a Sales Team
The biggest reason why mystery shopping programs will boost your revenue is because the shopper will be listening to everything that the server/employees are saying. Whether it’s the server at the table, the person running the food, or even the host who seats them – you get to see what customers experience on a daily basis.
We can train our teams to push specials, but how do they push specials? Do they quickly list them off as a chore or do they actually get excited about the specials that your restaurant is serving that day?
Are servers walking the customer through the menu or do they just point out the two most popular dishes in hopes that the customer just wants one of the two choices? Are servers actually listening to customers or are they just trying to turn and burn tables?
In a previous post, I discussed why your host is one of the most underrated positions in your restaurant. Your host gets to lay the seeds and if they know that the customers that just sat are first time visitors – they can alert the management team to boost sales by taking quality care of them.
Getting a bird’s eye view on your front line sales process is the biggest benefit to having these types of programs in your restaurant and will allow you to create strategies around the information the shopper(s) have found.
Gain Insights to Customer Satisfaction
The next benefit to implementing a mystery shopper strategy in your restaurant is getting to see your restaurant through the eyes of your customer.
When customers aren’t satisfied, they aren’t going to be spending money. They are going to want you to make up for the poor experience they are having or they will just go to your competitor.
Shoppers are trained to pay attention to the details. If the bathrooms are dirty, it usually means that the restaurant overlooks their kitchen, as well. Although that may not be true, every customer I’ve ever talked to said that they always check the bathrooms first. Details matter when it comes to cleanliness.
Think about it for a second – if your team is taking care of your customers and treating them like royalty, the table will spend more money because they will want to be treated like that longer.
Even if they don’t spend more money, chances are that they will be coming back time and time again to get that experience over and over.
Transparency Allows Employees to Always Be on their A-Game
The last way that mystery shopping will boost your revenue is that, as long as you are transparent about potential mystery shoppers visiting throughout the month, quarter or year, your employees will always have to bring their A-game. No one will want to be caught not providing exceptional customer service.
I know that I harp on the importance of the customer experience but I’ve seen check averages increase by significant amounts solely due to the level of service people are receiving.
What you have to focus on is to create contests that people want to participate in and have rewards that get your teams excited. In Los Angeles, I had a client that gave his top server two tickets to the Broadway show Hamilton simply because the server sold the most top shelf alcohol in a period.
What did this person do differently than the other servers? They asked the customer if they wanted X brand (well liquor) or Y brand (top shelf). Most of the time, the customer said the one they wanted and the server let them know it was more expensive but it didn’t matter.
The more you offer something, the more opportunities you will have of selling that. When I asked the server what the secret to their success was, it was that they just used that technique with every table.
Want to know the best secret about all of this? You aren’t pushing an agenda onto the customer. You are providing them with options and letting them choose how they want to spend their money (and learning how much they’re willing to spend).
The truth is, most customers are used to spending money when they are going out to eat or going out for happy hour. Most happy hours miss out on sale opportunities by saying well drinks are X amount without offering the premium brands for an upsell price.
If you are looking to boost your sales and revenue as we go into the new year, definitely check out some mystery shopper programs to see if it’s a right fit for your business.
p.s. Mystery shopping programs can shake up your world in a positive way. Think about it, because you’re constantly in your restaurant, at some point everything starts to blend in together. These programs will help you see it from a fresh pair of eyes.
By Andrew Carlson, Industry Expert