Jacques Clouseau

The Care and Feeding of a Mystery Shopper’s Best Friend

Your best friend as a mystery shopper isn’t the friend who begs you to take them on a high end fine dining shop. They don’t forget the guidelines in a fast casual shop. They won’t order dessert when that’s not an option. No, a shopper’s best friend is their car.

I can vaguely remember when cars had gauges for the alternator, oil pressure and temperature, and other functions. Gauges were nice, they provided some warning before problems occurred. Most cars on the road today, with the exception of the high performance sports cars, are filled with idiot lights. Generally speaking, once a light has come on, it’s usually too late. So, in a car filled with lights, what are your options?

Preventative maintenance…today’s vehicles are generally designed for oil changes at roughly 5,000 mile intervals [assuming non-synthetic oils]. I’m a bit old school and, because of the heavy driving, I change my oil at 3,000 mile intervals. I have a mechanic I trust and every other oil change he checks all the fluids and belts. I know there are people who worry about spending the money on preventative maintenance. I look at it as buying insurance. It tends to catch smaller problems before they become big problems.

If your tires don’t have green valve stem covers, get your tires refilled with nitrogen. The pressure will stay much more consistent, and the life of your tires will be extended. Also, by maintaining proper pressure, you’ll see an increase in your gas mileage.

And speaking of mpg, it can be an early warning indicator of a potential problem. Keep up with your mpg. This doesn’t mean figuring it out at every fill up but, using my car as an example, I fill it up and will reach ¼ tank at about 300 highway miles. If that number drops, I know to call my mechanic. Mileage drops can be an early indication of a problem. It could be something minor, or it could be major. A visit to your mechanic can put your mind at ease.

Don’t run your tank to empty. Most newer vehicles have the fuel pump inside the gas tank. If you run the tank much below ¼, you run the risk of exposing the fuel pump. The liquid gas helps keep the pump cool and will prolong its life.

A shopper’s best friend is their car. Take care of it and it will take care of you.

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