Mystery

A reader wrote:

Hi Dane. Is mystery shopping a real thing? Can you really get paid to visit stores and make reviews?

Excellent timing. I just received an email from the mystery shopping company that services the local hardware store in my community, and they have a new assignment.

(This isn’t a paid review or anything, and I’m not compensated if you sign up with them.)

Strategic Reflections is a mystery shopping company that provides retail stores, financial institutions, grocery stores, convenience stores, and restaurants a direct insight into customer experiences.

Mystery shopping can assist every service business by providing direct insight into the operational efficiency of any company. Through a recent shopper’s evaluation of current customer service levels, sales efforts, product knowledge, and location appearance; the client is able to understand where strengths as well as weaknesses exist. The information provided by our mystery shoppers will aid management in the development of programs to enhance customer relations and repeat business.

One of the local hardware stores posted on Facebook a few weeks before Christmas that they were looking for mystery shoppers. I figured I’d sign up and see how it all worked.

After signing up, and entering my zip code, I’m notified via email (and occasionally via telephone) when there’s an open opportunity in your geographic area.

After selecting the assignment online, you’re given a set of instructions. I’ve included them below.

After visiting the store and buying something small, you go back to the website and complete a mult-ipage evaluation. And then, the company sends you your payment. ($13 in this case.)

Are you going to get rich doing mystery shopping? No. Can you get rich in the mystery shopping business? Sure, just start a company yourself and sell stores and restaurants on your service. In my little town, there are probably 50 businesses that could use this service. I’m sure that in your town there are at least that many.

Mystery Shopper Instructions

  • This shop does not reimburse for the purchase. Please purchase something small in the hardware department, such as nuts or bolts.
  • Please review the shop from and instructions before conducting the shop.
  • Please do not conduct any shops on Tuesdays or Fridays.
  • Please avoid shopping the associate by the name of “(Owner)”.
  • Shops are to be completed by your assigned due date and entered into the computer on the same day your shop is conducted. Any shops considered late will be removed from your account and re-assigned to another shopper. We realize extenuating circumstances may arise, however, it is your responsibility to notify our office when you are not able to meet a deadline.
  • If you do not notice sales ads, please ask an associate if there is a current sales ad in use.
  • Please note a pre-visit phone section is required as part of this shop. This requires you to call the location prior to your visit. Please conduct the call the day prior to completing the shop. During this call, please ask a general hardware related question (i.e. Ask if they carry a specific item).
  • Name and/or description MUST be accurate.
  • If a name badge is not worn, give a detailed physical description. Example: Caucasian, female, 5’5′, blonde hair, 30′s, 140 pounds. Also list other distinguishing characteristics such as glasses, goatee, mustache, beard, etc. Do not include derogatory remarks such as older, over-weight, heavy, balding, etc. In some cases the associate will have their name stitched on their shirt, that is considered a name badge. If this occurs, please mark a “yes” for associate wearing name badge.
  • An associate must be evaluated in a hardware department area as well as the cashier area. Please try to make sure that these are two separate individuals if at all possible. If no one is present in the department you are evaluating, find someone to help you.
  • Use must select one of the following scenarios to use during your interaction with the sales floor associate. Please choose the scenario that you are most comfortable with, so it will be easy for you to hold a conversation with the associate.
    • Scenario A: Customer wishes to add another outlet box to an existing strand of outlets in an existing home. (Will need a remodel box, outlet, some Romex, Romex clamps, an outlet cover, and possibly a hammer, wire cutter/stripper, jab saw, drill bit, etc.)
    • Scenario B: Customer wants to refinish an antique door to bring out the natural wood finish. Door has been painted over with one or more coats of paint. (Will need some paint remover / stripper, gloves, scraper, sand paper, finish coat material, brush, clean-up solvent, could use drop cloths, etc.)
    • Scenario C: Customer wants to kill all weeds or other stuff in a garden area and start new with plants of his choosing. He gets a lot of weeds there each spring, probably due to a lot of seeds from last year’s weeds. (for existing weeds, a Round-up product, for seeds, a pre-emergent such as preen. Fertilizer or potting soil for add on sales and possible a weed hoe.)
    • Scenario D: Customer broke a piece of 1/2 inch galvanized or metal pipe off in a fitting and the joint is quite rusty. He wants to remove the broken piece and replace the pipe nipple. (needs penetrating oil to loosen the rust, and a easy-out extractor. Also new pipe nipple, pipe wrench, Teflon tape, pipe dope, etc. as add on sales)
    • Scenario E: Customer wants to reseal some asphalt driveway before winter rains. (will need crack sealer of some sort, a slurry sealer, possible a caulk gun if crack sealer is in tube, and brush / squeegee for applying the slurry sealer – gloves are a possible add on sale)
  • If you are not assisted after 20 minutes, you must approach an associate and ask for assistance. You are required to make a purchase as part of this evaluation. There is no minimum purchase required. However, we prefer that you purchase hardware item(s). Candy, gum, etc. are not acceptable purchases. Purchasing a key is also not acceptable.
  • If during the evaluation, you notice anything unusual or out of the ordinary, be sure to include this information in your summary comments. A minimum of several lines of general comments are required after the departmental and cashier segments of the evaluation.
  • All ‘No’ answers MUST be verified and explained SPECIFICALLY! Just saying the exterior was dirty does not count. We need to know what was not clean.

Originally posted by Dane Carlson on January 9, 2014 in Mailbag.

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