Overview: Although not a mystery shop, loss prevention audits are conducted by several mystery shopping companies. These are similar to revealed gas station audits in that you will have to take pictures, often of the good as well as the bad. The major difference is that there is no “mystery” portion of this audit.
Visit & Reporting Requirements: Generally the visit will occur during off-peak hours and will require that a manager accompany you throughout the entire audit. The instructions will often include a checklist that you can take with you to ensure you don’t miss any of the required points you’ll need to check and photograph.
Strategies: There are really no strategies for these audits as they are fairly straightforward visits. You ask the host/hostess for the manager on duty, present the letter of authorization and, unless the manager rejects the letter, you’ll get to work.
Follow the checklist so you get all the required questions and answers covered, as well as all the required pictures. I find these to be relatively easy and stress free as the manager knows they have these audits coming either monthly or quarterly. Of course, perhaps I’ve just been lucky to have had encounters with good managers.
Estimated Pay: These start at about $25 and go up, depending on the work involved. The first one I did took about an hour for the audit and another 30 minutes to upload the pictures and the report.
Similar Shops: Bar Audits are a cousin of restaurant loss prevention audits. These are unrevealed shops where you sit at the bar. While the specifics will vary, generally you’ll be eating at the bar in a spot where you’re able to observe the bartender’s cash handling, as well as pouring methods. Depending upon the client, you may be sent a copy of the location’s instructions for “counting” shots, the proper way to pour beer, etc.
Requirements: Besides sitting at the bar, the instructions will usually specify how many alcoholic drinks can be ordered per person. While you might be able to get away with making a mistake on other shops, this is one that must be followed to the letter. Additionally, make sure that you have your itemized receipt in addition to the register receipt; you’ll likely have to submit both for your shop to be paid.
Pay: Bar audits generally pay less than a loss prevention audit. I’ve done several that have been reimbursement plus fee. The reimbursement is generous enough that I have been able to enjoy an above average meal, leave a tip within the guidelines, and still haven’t reached the maximum reimbursement limit. I find the reporting for these shops to generally be easy and worth the fee.
One advantage of these shops is that you know the client before you sign up, so you can check the menu to see if the reimbursement will cover all your expenses. At this point, you can decide if a free meal, or a mostly free meal, plus expenses is worth the time of doing a report.
Reports: I find the reports for these shops to be straightforward and simple, generally not taking more than 30-45 minutes to complete.