Mystery shopping programs: Driving brand standards across all locations

Most organizations leverage mystery shopping to “inspect what they expect” on a recurring basis. They implement programs that enable the business to understand where brand standards are being met and where opportunities exist for coaching. These programs are typically focused on basic customer service and brand compliance matters such as greeting and engaging customers, adherence to appearance and uniform expectations, the speed of service, the availability and the quality of products for purchase as well as specific branding elements that should be present. These programs help brands optimize the customer experience at each of their locations.

In our on-going work with leading restaurant brands across the globe, we find that those that execute more consistently on brand standards drive greater same-store sales results. In a recent analysis with one such client, we found that there was an 11% difference in sales performance between the most consistent stores and the most inconsistent. A mystery shopping program can both increase revenue as well as help retain customers.

LTO mystery shopping project: Making sure promotions work

There are times, however, when a mystery shopping program is not the answer, but instead a mystery shopping project is the right approach. One such example is the evaluation of a limited time offer (LTO). Restaurant organizations are continuously offering promotional menu items to drive traffic back into the store. These LTOs are intended to spike customer counts and create new brand perceptions for current customers as well as new trial customers.

Many brands conduct an LTO at least once per quarter and some even more frequently than that. Restaurants invest heavily in these promotions and are looking for a significant ROI when they do. This is where a mystery shopping project can help. This kind of initiative can be tailored to focus on how well a company executes the mechanics of its LTO, including the offer of the promotion (suggestive selling), how it is promoted in the restaurant (signage and other promotional material) and the actual execution of the product (order accuracy and food quality). A mystery shop project can be configured to simply visit every location one time during the promotional window to assess which elements of the promotional plan are firing on all cylinders and where additional investments may be required.

It sounds like common sense, but many brands are hampered by consistent operational execution across locations. By executing more effectively on LTOs, restaurant operators can protect their brands’ reputations, delight customers and make more money. Click here read more about implementing measures to ensure that your next LTO is as impactful as possible.

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Brad Christian is a Managing Director at Market Force and has been with the company for 11 years consulting with restaurant brands on how best to implement customer experience programs that provide insight into strategic investment decision-making that helps them protect their brands, delight their customers and make more money.