Mystery Shopper

Want to know more about how your salespeople are performing? Use a mystery shopper. CAUTION: don’t utilize this article if you have high blood pressure. You are going to be amazed, flabbergasted, and downright upset by what you find.

Most large cities have professional firms that specialize in this type of research. If you can’t find one or feel their service is too expensive for your budget right now, ask a relative or friend to help.

Mystery shoppers look and sound like any anonymous customer who might walk in your door or call your business on the phone. But their motivation is different. They might buy or they might not. They want to see how your salespeople respond to their inquiry (and that might include you!).

This is the perfect way to determine whether you and your staff are asking for the sale each time.

Your mystery shopper will tell you valuable things such as how many times the phone rang before it was answered and whether or not the salesperson was courteous. Good ones will report the impression they had when they first came in the door. Were they greeted well? Were they recognized (as a customer)? Were they assisted within a reasonable time?

A mystery shopper is a hired investigator who on a minor level will reveal insight into how your operation is coming across to all customers. He or she will also inform you of areas where you and your sales staff need to apply some technique or go for further training.

Hiring a mystery shopper or two periodically will keep the bugs out of your sales and help ensure your progress toward significant success.

It’s simple: give them lists of parts you know are in stock and have them shop. Also, have them buy at least one. AND... Have them return one. Get your blood pressure medicine ready for this report, and be sitting down. And you were wondering why your sales weren’t growing?

I used the results obtained from mystery shoppers objectively to track progress of new hires as well as the performance of all the salespeople. I prepared objective criteria for the shoppers and tabulated scores for the salespeople, which were handed out to all of them.

Now that you understand what a mystery shopper is in relation to your own business, turn the table around and send this same artisan to your competitors. A good mystery shopper will inform you of their habits, good and bad, just as well as he or she does your own. You might be surprised at what you learn. You’ll learn two things for certain: what NOT to do and what to do BETTER.

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Next month: More good stuff from Chapter 5 of “Salvaging Millions”.

Remember, only you can make BUSINESS GREAT!

Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, (best) or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.