As shoppers, we are always on the look-out for great mystery shopping companies. I have worked with a few of these companies below and I can attest to the fact that they are great companies, paying in a reasonable amount of time, with excellent schedulers. While I have not worked with all these companies, my goal is to give most of them a try! I hope you do too!
- Mercantile Systems (MSI)
Private Investigator Bob Tice began Mercantile Systems and Surveys in 1954, as a Loss Prevention Firm. In the early days, MSI focused primarily on Bar Surveys. But they soon expanded to other types of restaurants and entertainment businesses, their locations from San Francisco to San Jose, California.
In the early 1960’s, Tice teamed up with Robert Cosgrove, a former bar owner, with a history in the restaurant business, to start a sister-firm called the American Polygraph Company. The combination of bar surveys and polygraph examinations, enabled the popular business to grow quickly.
Cosgrove eventually bought the company, expanded it further and continued to run it himself. Under the leadership of Robert Cosgrove and his son, current CEO-Dan Cosgrove, they have continued to develop and watch the company grow throughout the United States and around the world. Under Dan’s leadership, MSI has grown from a locally-focused family business to an international Customer Research leader in the industry. Dan Cosgrove spent his life in the Customer Research business. As a child, Dan would go with his father, MSI Founder Robert Cosgrove, to conduct Restaurant Audits. Dan earned his CPI (California Private Investigators) license and began his field in Bar Surveys. He later founded the Hospitality Specialty Group in 1997, before merging with his father’s business in 1999.
MSI is located in Brentwood, California. MSI performs over 30,000 surveys a year, including famous named hotels (multiple hotel chains-different brands) famous telecommunications/cell phone carriers company and home builders. The list is quite extensive.
Mercantile currently has over 400,000 mystery shoppers. I must tell you, they are one of my most favorite companies. They use to have a famous casual dining shop where you were rewarded by gift cards only. It was “lucrative” for the shopper because they gave you well-above what you spent for lunch or dinner and I saved my gift cards for special occasions. I earned more than $400 in gift cards and they came in handy for birthdays and anniversaries.
Business Model: “Mercantile Systems gives business owners and management peace of mind, by providing accurate, customized programs that show you the truth about what is happening throughout your company.”
Motto: “We provide Information you can use..Today.”
Memberships: MSPA Member, CALI (California Licensed Investigators, and RLPSA (Restaurant Loss Prevention Security Association).
Types of Services and Shops: Branding and Merchandising Audits, Suggestive Selling Reviews, Instant Mobi Apps (fast reporting of suspected employee theft that gets into the hands of the client quickly) Photo-GPS timed-stamped, Employee Training Compliance, Marketing and Display Covert Audits, Suggestive Selling Programs, Customized Compliance Audits, Online Surveys (Customer), Guest Satisfaction Surveys, Rewards and Survey Incentive Programs, Competitor Assessments (Competitive Data), Employee Retention, Loss Prevention, Retail Compliance, Accountability Surveys (Monitoring Programs), Motivation Evaluations, Photo and Video Reporting, Employee Performance Surveys, Customer Satisfaction Surveys, Brand Initiative Evaluations, Employee Assessments, Operational Assessments, Announced and Un-Announced Audits, Hospital Shops, Telecommunication Shops, Retail Shops, Storage Facility Shops, Health Shops, Chinese Restaurant-Chain Shops, Fine Dining Shops, Fast Casual Shops, Bar Shops (Integrity), Hotel (Numerous Chains) Hospitality Shops, Golf Company Shops, Steak Shops, Brew-house Shops, Famous Alternative-Cable Shops, Home Builder Shops (Target Agent), UnAnnounced Cash Audits (cash drawer check, cash handling, balance drawer and integrity shops) and Cell Carrier Shops.
To learn more:
BestMark is the Industry Leader having been in business over 30 years. They began in 1986 in Minnetonka, Minnesota and are one of the first mystery shopping companies to gather surveys and customer satisfaction results via the internet, launching via the internet in 1995.
They have had over 7 million experiences and interactions with customers via shoppers. They have proudly served over 1,000 clients in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. They have experience in over 15 different types of industries. They have a database of over 2 million research participants and have over 500,000 Mystery Shoppers and Auditors. Shoppers are called “Field Representatives” This company has more in-depth, extensive narratives. They are proud to have a 100% compliance rate and they are licensed to perform shops in Nevada. (Private Investigators License).
Coverage: BestMark Shoppers conduct over 10,000 mystery shops a month, in 13,000 cities and towns in the U.S, Canada and Europe.
Fast fact: One of the nation’s first mystery shopping companies, BestMark has legitimized mystery shopping as a powerful research tool.
Motto: “The Leader in Customer Experience Innovation.”
Favorite: “Quality and Accuracy of our mystery shop results is the best in the business.”
Quality First: They edit the work of their own editors! These are called Random Spot Checks to make sure the editors are on their editorial best.
Shops and Services: Competitive Intelligence, Compliance Audits, Customer Intercepts, Exit Surveys/Interviews, Customer Research, Web Surveys, Rewards and Incentive Shops/Surveys, Internal Evaluations, Employee Engagement Surveys, Employee Training/Certification, Customer Experience Consulting, Manufacturers Audits, Channel Distribution, Supermarket Shops, Drug Store Shops, Real Estate Shops/Target Realtors, Leasing Agents/Target, Restaurant Shops, Café Shops, Transportation Services Shops, Casino Shops, (slot attendant to cage cashier), Automotive Shops, Airport Shops, Banking, Casino/Gaming, Consumer Electronics, Appliance Shops, Department Store Shops, Financial Services, Fitness Clubs, Health Spas, Government Services, Heath Care Shops, Long Term Care (Assisted Living), Home Improvement Shops, Hardware Shops, Hotel Shops, Resort Shops,
To learn more:
- The Baird Group
The Baird Group is a healthcare consulting-firm focused on improving the patient experience in hospitals, medical practices, urgent care facilities, and home care facilities. Baird primarily deals with “Medical Mystery Shopping” and Culture Assessments. This thriving company is located in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.
Baird has been in business for 10 years. Baird Group was founded by Kristin Baird, CEO who is an R.N. with 35 years of nursing and health care experience. Baird Group mainly deals with the heath care, patient experience, culture assessments and qualitative Research. They deal with ethnography studies, culture assessments and leadership development in the medical field.
Life Goal: “Transforming Culture, Shaping Patient Experience.”
Motto: “To make health care better for patients and the people who serve them.” -Kristin Baird, CEO.
Memberships: Accredited Member BBB and NWBOC (National Women’s Business Owners Corporation)
Force: “The passion for better health care has been my driving force.” Kristin Baird, CEO.
The Best: Baird Group was named one of the “Best Entrepreneurial Companies in America.”
Fast Track: Baird Group is recognized as a company that exemplifies growth, not just in the top and bottom-line but in sustainability and the ability to achieve lasting success.”
Services: Medical Phone Shops, Walk-Thru Visits, Patient Visits, Paired Patient Visits, Care Partner Observations, Patient Satisfaction Data, Access Cultural and Behavioral Data, Focus Groups, In-Depth Interviews, Employee Engagement, Coaching, Skill-Building Workshops, Books/Webinar/Training Materials, Leadership Development, Patient Satisfaction Data and Culture Assessments. Shops dealing with: Communication between Patient and Nurse, Patient and Doctor, Staff and Discharge, Evaluations of: Noise, Cleanliness, Privacy and Temperature of Room and Adherence to Standards.
To learn more:
Confero began in 1986 and 13 years later Elaine Buxton became president of this top rated company in 1999. Elaine has been featured in numerous articles in important business journals and she has been deeply involved in the MSPA and serving on the Operating Committee , which initially formed the MSPA, in 1998.
MSPA: “MSPA was founded in 1998 by a group of mystery shopping business owners who recognized the positive influence a trade association could have on the industry. The Association started with about 70 member companies, and has since grown into a global organization with more than 300 member companies. MSPA North America was created as a region in 2009 and currently has over 150 member companies.”
As an MSPA member, Elaine has served on the Board of Directors for 5 years.
Mystery Shoppers: There are 130,000 Mystery Shoppers with this thriving company. Confero has a reputation of integrity, fairness and with a combined employee 55 amazing years in the industry experience. They use the COMPASS online reporting system and operate shops in U.S. Canada, Puerto Rico and Japan.
They are located in Cary, North Carolina. They use the Sassie Reporting System for shoppers and pay by PayPal. Looking at my past Pay Logs, they pay between 30-65 days. While this is not the fastest paying company, it falls in line with the average of pay times.
Shops: Banking, Finance, Stock Trade Shops, Stock Fund Shops, Auto Dealership Sales/Service, Oil Change Shops, Target Vehicle Dealership Shops, Post-Security Airport Shops, High-end Targets Customer Retail Shops, Military Base Access Shops, Food and Beverage Shops, College Campus Food Shops, Shopping Center Shops, Quality Control Audits, Truck Stop Shops, Theme Park Shops, Institutional Shops, Corporate Shops, Incentive Shops, IVR Phone, Homes Services, Regional Retail, Food Service Shops, Shopping Center Management Shops, Grocery Shops, Banks, Competitive Intelligence Shops, IVR Surveys, Web Surveys, Exit Interviews, Real Estate, Insurance Shops, Retail Center Shops, Announced Audits, Customer Feedback, Coupon Redemption Checks, Product Knowledge Surveys, Shopper Marketing Shops, Support Check Shops, C-Stores, Specialty Retail, Movie Theaters, Amusement Parks, Online Ticket Sales, Performance Consulting, Employee Incentive Programs, Alcohol Compliance Shops, Tobacco Shops, Financial FDIC Compliance Shops, Video Shops, (grocery, auto, apartments, auto shops) Mobile Roleplay, Hospital Shops, Health Care Shops, Medical Office Practice Shops, Consumer Products Shops, Entertainment Shops, and Theme Park Shops.
Memberships: Vice Chairperson for the BBB. WARES: Formerly NARMS. MSPA member,
Awards: “Top 100 Small Businesses.”
To learn more:
- B Business Solutions (BBS)
B Business Solutions began in Mountaintop, Pennsylvania in 1998 and has clients in the U.S. and Canada. This is a smaller company and this company usually gives jobs to shoppers by direct requests from a scheduler and not a job board. For 18 years this company has been in business and while they are a smaller known company, they do have a lot of different types of shops. Some shoppers say they have not been contacted with any fresh leads for shops in a while. The best thing to do in this case, is to contact the scheduler directly to see if she/he has anything available for you.
Motto: “Because business thrives when you understand your customers.
Core Mystery Shops: “Every time a customer comes into contact with your business, they are making an assessment which affects their potential to be a repeat customer. Our mystery shoppers pose as regular customers to provide feedback on how your business performs from a customer’s viewpoint, at all of the touch points of service. Our detailed reports allow you to understand “the story” behind each visit and utilize that information to improve customer experiences.”
Satisfied Client Comment: “We use these evaluations to refine the processes. We therefore have fewer customer service problems and increased return customers. Service evaluations enable us to stay on top of problem areas before they are out of control.”
This company pays by PayPal every 2-4 weeks.
Shops: Retail Shops, Grocery Shops, C-Stores, Small Grocers, Restaurant Shops, Dining Fast Casual, Luxury Sales, Apartment Leasing/Target Shops, Market Research Firms, Baggage Claims Shops, Anti-Discrimination Apartment Shops/Surveys, Phone, Email and Website Surveys, Sales Assessments, Brand Identity Audits, Competitive Analysis, Auto Service/Sales, Arenas, Casino Shops, Hotel Shops, Theater Shops, Hospitality Shops, Airport Shops, Builder Shops, Famous Basketball Associate, Steak Shops, Burger Shake Shops, Competitive Strategy Consulting, Pool Company Shops, Racetrack Shops, Casino Shops, Hotel shops, Ports of Call Shops, IVR surveys, Web Surveys, Price Comparison, Revealed Audits, Photo Audits, Brand Audits, Brand Validations and Customer Service Evaluations and Incentive Shops,
To learn more:
In closing: Just this week I have been trying new companies. It is hard when you are used to doing things a certain way and if want to step outside of the box. You have to be willing to learn new methods and standards for each mystery shopping company. Nobody said it’s easy to accept change and new ways of doing things but if you just give new companies a try, you can at least say you did get out there and gave it your all!