The Great Hall
Secret shopper program The Great Hall: Secret shopper program
By foodguy on Thursday, February 24, 2000 - 08:56 pm: Edit

Can someone help me?

I want to start a secret shopper program for a couple clients of mine but have never done it before. Does anyone have any suggestions or someplace I could resource some material on this subject?


By pam on Thursday, February 24, 2000 - 10:04 pm: Edit

hi, i have done this but not in restaurants. i've done it in different stores. i had to buy something & then fill out a form that i mailed back. i would think you may be able to find some info on the web. are you planning on going into restaurants to eat to see how the waitstaff,food etc is? what is your business now?

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Friday, February 25, 2000 - 05:24 am: Edit

Go to www dot designandperformance dot com and then to the FACS why you should hire a consultant page, scroll to bottom of this page and open the informative package on adobe reader and the answers are on page 17.

good luck

By Clay Russell on Friday, April 20, 2001 - 02:19 pm: Edit

A few years ago I was a Secret Shopper for Lettuce Entertain You restaurants in Chicago. Over several months my roommate and I visited one LEY restaurant a week and then filled out a VERY detailed 10-page questionnaire about the experience, and were then reimbursed for the cost of the meal. Apparently, each LEY restaurant is shopped once a week, and these reports are extremely important for everyone from managers to cooks to buspeople; they receive prizes if they receive perfect (5 out of 5) scores on various things. (LEY had its own very strict guidelines for perfection that other restaurants wouldn't necessarily follow, but staff had to follow these to the letter in order to merit a 5-rating. For example, no matter how much I might like a server, once he/she said "Is everything OK?" or "How is everything?" they could NOT receive a top score.)

I doubt whether Lettuce will give you their guidelines outright, but I'd expand on what I recall of the experience if it would help.


By W.DeBord on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 07:04 am: Edit

Their really an amazing group (or Richie Melmon personally is brilliant)!!!I've never left one of their restaurants unhappy!

P.S. Have they expanded out of Chicago yet?

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 07:02 pm: Edit

Ummm....., what's wrong with asking if everything is ok?

By Yankee on Saturday, April 21, 2001 - 09:18 pm: Edit

"Is everything ok?" implies that everything is only supposed to be "ok," and that the server really has no idea what's going on at your table. Something like "Are you enjoying the 'wine' with your 'entree'?" or just complementing the wine choice with the food makes it sound like you have their table dialed in and know what they are eating and drinking.

The reply "no problem" falls into the same category, as it implies that the request may be a problem. It's better to say "yes, right away."

There are other ways to approach a table to make sure they are happy with the way their meal is going, I just can't remember them. Most FOH people, at least the few good ones out there, can put a positive spin on anything without sounding canned.

Personally, I hate being asked if everything is "ok."

By peachcreek on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 01:08 pm: Edit

When I dine out, I also don't care for the line "Is everything O.K.?" To me it implies a couple of things.
1. We screwed something up and want to know if you noticed.
2. We are insecure about our food or service.
3. Have we reached the minimum necessary food quality and service to warrant a tip.
4. We don't care about excellence. Mediocrity is acceptable.
I jokingly tell people the motto of our establishment is "Don't piss off the customer too badly the first time". I tell the servers to say things such as "Is everything to your liking"? I know the food and service are at least O.K. I want to know if it is the way the customer PREFERS to be served and did the food meet THEIR expectations. Is that O.K.?

By Peachcreek on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 01:14 pm: Edit

As for secret shoppers. In our city the Chamber of Commerce has a free Secret Shopper program for Chamber members. You may contact the Chamber in you area for information. Good luck.

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 03:53 pm: Edit

How is everything?
Is everything ok?
Everything alright?
To me it's all the same. It's the same as, how are you? How are you doing?, nobody really wants to know how you are or how your food is.
If you go to a five star restaurant, the front server might be from a long line of formal European Servers or Hosts, the first thing out of their mouth will be Good Evening, is everything ok tonight? It sounds a little better with an accent but it's all the same.
A good server is an extension of the kitchen and already knows the food is perfect. The only thing that should interest him or her is that all your needs are met.
just my 2cents

By Ramodeo (Ramodeo) on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 07:34 pm: Edit

I guess i agree with you, Panini. All the other options sound much more contrived to me. I don't mind being asked if everything is ok, or "how is everything" because it gives me the option of answering with a quick "yes, fine" if I want the server to go away. I don't really want to describe how I am enjoying my wine with my meal and I think it's kind of intrusive to be asked such a question unless we had a specific conversation about it's suitability earlier.

What I do like is for a server to follow up the "is everything alright" inquiry with an "Is there anything else you need?" and some real attention to the water glasses, coffee cups, napkins, silverware, etc. "I see you need a refill, I'll be right back with it" is what I want to hear. Or "I see your kids could use some extra napkins" - Now that's music to my ears!

Actually, what makes the real difference is how interested the server is in my needs, and I can tell that no matter what words they use. I don't mind the servers at our restaurant saying "Is everything OK?" because I know it is sincere, and they work for us because they are sincere about it and because the customers can tell they are sincere about it. Telling them they can't use a certain phrase or they have to use certain phrases doesn't make sense to me.

One of our best servers tried taking a job at a large (pseudo)italian chain restaurant. She walked out when they gave her the 10 page test in which she was to write out word for word the menu item descriptions exactly as they were taught to her, and she was told that was the way she was to describe them to every customer, every single time. No variation was allowed. Thank goodness she hated the idea of that and came to us. She is an absolute doll, and she's unfailingly polite and attentive and courteous, as well as being efficient and accurate. Everyone else on the staff likes her and she shows up for work every time, on time! Customers love her, her South Georgia accent charms every one of them...a lot of mistakes will be forgiven when people are served by someone like that. Human cloning is sounding better to me.... :)

I like being able to staff my place with people like that, but that's why we decided on a small mom and pop place. Maybe our way would never work on a larger scale, I don't know.

By Panini (Panini) on Sunday, April 22, 2001 - 09:45 pm: Edit

Your way might not work on a larger scale, so instead of cloning your staff you should think about cloning your business.
When I go out for a meal it is always for recreation and never to replace a meal at home. I always use this opportunity to communicate with loveones or friends. I really don't want my server to be a part of the experience, but I also expect to have someone attentive to our needs.
The family ma and pa place works!!!!!

By W.DeBord on Monday, April 23, 2001 - 09:04 am: Edit

You can tell when someone is sincerely inquiring about your needs regardless of the actual words used. It's obvious they don't care when they're asking you, if they don't actually stop and survey the table ie. your glasses seems many places now expect that the customer needs to speak up for basic items like water refills.

I find it insulting to have a waiter comment on my choice of anything (it's not their business to make judgements on my selections). Although I do want their honest opinion when I ask if something is good or not before I order it (and they rarely feel free to comment on that, I realize it's a matter of taste...but I'm asking their opinion and of their experience with other customers ordering this item).

My bigest peeve is the timing of when they ask. It seems to always be 5 seconds after they set your food down or when their coming to pick up you empty plate and it's a "WAS everything o,k.?, heres your check and have a great day" GRRRRRRRR!!!!

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