The Value of the Secret Shopper
It is always a good idea to make sure that you are providing the best possible experience to your customers. While everything looks good as you walk the floor, customers may have a very different experience. This is why it can be beneficial to use a secret shopper from time to time. This will allow you to get honest feedback about what is going on at the dining table and what guests really see.
There are countless different secret shopping companies that you can choose from. Essentially, they assign someone to go into the restaurant and pose as a normal diner. No one knows who that person is, and they are likely going to come in with another guest so that they blend in. They will be required to order specific items, which can include an alcoholic beverage, an appetizer, different entrées, as well as dessert.
The secret shopper will also be timing all of the interactions. This includes how long it took for a server to reach the table to make the introductory greeting, how long it took for beverages to make it to the table, and how long it took for the entrées to come out. This will allow you to see what the speed of service is and where you can make improvements.
The secret shopper will also be making comments about the food. They will tell you whether the food was served hot or cold, whether there was a good presentation on the plate, as well as whether the food was flavorful. This can be valuable feedback so that you know what is going on in the kitchen and what the food looks like by the time it makes it to the customer.
Additionally, secret shopper is going to make comments about the restaurant as a whole. They will identify whether everything was clean as they approached the restaurant as well as everything on the table was clean. If your servers are not wiping down bottles of ketchup in between guests or there is a lot of debris underneath the tables, secret shoppers will make note of this.
If the wooden tables are worn, chairs are wobbly, or there are other aspects of the dining room that are worn, dirty, or uncomfortable, the shopper will be the one to identify these things so that you can make improvements. Without having this extra set of eyes from time to time, you may not know what needs to be updated or changed, and this can cause people to stop coming into your restaurant.
A secret shopper system can be very affordable, and can provide you with feedback that you would not otherwise be able to get. You are generally reimbursing the shopper for whatever they buy as well as the fee to the secret shopping company. It’s best to spend the money here so that you are not spending the money elsewhere in the restaurant without knowing what people actually want or need. You may need to do some retraining, reinvest in dining room furniture, or something else.