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How Often Should I Bring Mystery Shoppers Into My Store?

You can’t get in shape by going for a jog once a month. You’ll never perfect that Chopin piece if you only rehearse right before the recital.

Frédéric Chopin

Cover of Frédéric Chopin

Practice makes perfect.

It’s repetition and vigilance that make you successful in the end.

So why, if you’re trying to perfect your customer service or other aspects of your operation, would you bring in mystery shoppers to critique your business only once in a while?

Of course, every business is different, and there are a lot of different factors that go into your decision of how often to bring in shoppers. You could choose quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily — it depends on what your goals are, and how much you have to invest financially on the shops.

But the general consensus in the mystery shopping community is that, especially if you have only a limited budget and many stores, is that it’s best to bring shoppers to your busiest stores on a semi-regular basis — once or twice a week, if possible.

Mystery shops capture a variety of different scenarios on an ordinary day. Unless you hire shoppers frequently, it’s hard to know whether problems that arise are isolated cases or negative patterns. You never know when an employee is simply having a bad day or if they’re truly a liability to your company. It’s hard to say whether a shoplifter simply decided to steal something one day or an organized group of thieves has been targeting your business.

Quarterly and monthly shops don’t provide a lot of reliable data or establish continuity in a business’ operations, and daily shops can create overwhelming sets of data that are impossible for managers to weed through and draw meaningful conclusions from. Weekly and biweekly shops are a happy medium that can provide meaningful data and good consistency.

It may take some time to figure out exactly what frequency is best for your business, but it’s safe to say that the more shops you do, the better your results will be, and the better your employees will know to be on their toes constantly.

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