Overview: This is one of the assignments that initially draws potential mystery shoppers into the industry. At first glance, they seem very enjoyable and appealing, and they can be. But sometimes these projects are not as glamorous as one might think.
Restaurant assignments can vary from upscale casual to formal fine dining. For those that like a nice night out, these projects can be the envy of your friends and family. However, you should never consider your meal “free”. You will be working for it, no doubt about it.
Project Variations: The scenario is straightforward. The shopper, and usually a companion, pose as typical diners. With some assignments, these assignments include a visit to the bar before or after dinner.
Visit & Reporting Requirements: Time on site is usually an hour or more, depending upon the pace of service and volume of business at the time of visit. Count on a minimum of 45 minutes for reporting more casual eateries, but allow for twice that for more upscale restaurants.
Strategies: Usually assignments will specify what type of items you need to order, such as cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and/or desserts. However, the shopper usually has their choice in each category. Many also specify that the shopper and their companion should order different entrees. Double-check instructions before making the visit.
A good idea is to review the website for the restaurant beforehand if one is available. This can familiarize you with the menu items. In some cases, you can also estimate prices to make the most of your reiumbursement allowance.
The devil is in the details, as the saying goes. The client wants to know all about your experience. Be sure to note names of servers, food runners, managers, and bartenders. Unobtrusively time the pace of service to receive drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts, and the final bill. Observe the facility, noting conditions, ambiance, and cleanliness. Last, but not least, analyze and judge the food you are served for quality, preparation, and appearance.
Be prepared to thoroughly describe your experience in the report in specific narrative. Vague terms such as “good” will not be good enough. A thesaurus can come in handy while reporting, especially when providing descriptions of your food. Include information about what you liked or disliked about an item, kind of ingredients used, freshness, whether the dish was unique in any way, if the item was something you would or wouldn’t order again and why, and more.
What Others Have to Say: Restaurant assignments are discussed frequently on www.mysteryshopforum.com. Opinions are split as to whether these are worthwhile. For those enjoy dining out and don’t mind the extensive writing required for such visits, these can be great. There are those that would find it difficult to spend their hard-earned cash on a nice meal at a restaurant, and these assignments make it possible to treat themselves to a night out. Others look at the bottom line from a business-only point of view, and state that there is little to no financial profit in these endeavors, especially so since they require so much time to complete both on-site and in reporting.
Estimated Pay: Many restaurant assignments are reiumbursement only. If a fee is offered, it is usually nominal, as are bonuses. One thing to take into consideration is the form of payment and reiumbursement. Sometimes this is in the form of a gift card that can only be used on a future visit to the restaurant.
MSCs: Among the mystery shopping companies that have restaurant clients are Goodwin, Northwest Loss Prevention Consultants, Coyle Hospitality, and Ardent Services.