Restaurant Reviews and Mystery Shoppers.

Restaurant Reviews and Mystery Shoppers.

When you plan to receive a review or feedback on your restaurant and your staff’s performance and you receive the guest’s actual experience best is if all happens as simple and generic as it really is. The manager and staff should not know who the mystery shopper is, and should not have the opportunity to be prepared or coached to influence his or her review. Likewise, the mystery shopper should not know that he is going to review a specific establishment and arrive with a rehearsed opinion. 

Now we have the best of both worlds to generate accurate information and a review with substance.

The question remains what information do you want, which questions do you want to be answered and how do you want your Mystery Shopper to experience the information required. If you use subjective open online guest comment platforms or ask guests to fill in comment cards in-store. There might not be a true representation of an actual experience. Even worse someone might be ticking boxes just to get a job done. If you pay shoppers to visit your store they could be brand insensitive or might not even be from your area, even worse they could not be representative of your actual client base. 

These thoughts lead to another question. What motivates a person to become a mystery shopper? The Mystery Shoppers’ motivation could also impact on how the participating store is evaluated and it could cause conflict when two stores are evaluated by people with different motivations to conclude the task. All of the mentioned could cause distorted feedback. 

Once you decide on the questions you want your mystery shoppers to answer, how do you benchmark the standards that the shopper needs to measure their experience too? To avoid disinterested feedback from a mystery shopper that actually never would visit your establishment out of choice, and actually cannot get out of your establishment faster than he came in.  

How are we going to facilitate this valuable service and make every last bit of information count?

The questions that you ask should not leave any space for personal interpretation by the mystery shopper. We do not know the training and or background of the shopper so choose well how you ask questions and in which format they should be answered. Lead the questions on to an easy yes or no answer and when the option of yes or no needs clarification ask a direct and clear, why or how or why not?


  • Will you revisit, yes or no. 
  • If you will not visit again, why not? 
  • If you will not visit again can we contact you, yes or no?
  • If yes on what number can we call?
  • Did you get what you asked for, yes or no? 
  • Did you get what you expected, yes or no? 
  • If you did not get what you expected why not?

 You are getting a clear answer to a clear question. 

The answer is to dip into a pool of shoppers that are already visiting x amount of stores on a regular basis. Typical rewards card users. Then once you see that they have visited a store that has signed up as a mystery shopper client you ask them to complete a questionnaire, the mystery shopper questionnaire. Now you are going to get honest answers from a fan. In return, you reward the shopper for their honest opinion to grow and maximize your business. 

There are various ways to use the information that is gathered in the rewarded shopper review system. Once you have feedback information of competitors in similar market segments you can start to compare notes to understand reactions in the marketplace to specific marketing strategies or changes that you have made to your menu. The options really become limitless. Targeting specific corrective training modules based on the research presents the perfect opportunity for improvement and growth. 

It is imperative not to use the mystery shopper feedback only as a whipping tool. There will be an unconditional negative whiplash toward the mechanism and you could waste hard-earned revenue. 

Reacting to mystery shopper feedback should become a positive building mechanism in your business and soonest you stack the building blocks of the reaction to mystery shopper feedback into a working tool for your employees to improve themselves and in return improve the workplace, the better for your business. 

Start to brainstorm what you want to know about your business to give you that competitive edge in the marketplace.

Marius Joubert
Author: Marius Joubert

Founder of the first true community for the restaurant and hospitality industry.

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