My FIRST Restaurant Shop

I did my first restaurant shop this week. I've only been a MS for a 1 1/2 years. I'm still wet behind the ears, that's for sure. I read through my instructions carefully, making sure to memorize all 6 pages. LOL... Or try to.Haha. And just when I thought I was ready, I was greeted at the door by a friendly smile and warm greeting. And whoops... I missed the first name because she asked me a question.

I have to say, for those of you that do restaurant shops often, I applaud you. I did the best I could, texting myself names and times, and what each person did and what needed to be noted. All while trying to be cool and collected with my unsuspecting guest. The pressure definately changes when you're in that environment and have NO experience. I'll be practicing my secret texting whenever I eat out from now on.

By the time it came to do my report, I would've benefited from a secret decoder ring. Auto correct can be a nightmare! Had it not been for my texting their name a 2nd time, I would've thrown in the towel and admitted I failed.

Feeling relieved... Wheeeew!.... I made it!

Create an Account or Log In

Membership is free. Simply choose your username, type in your email address, and choose a password. You immediately get full access to the forum.

Already a member? Log In.

Good for you! I can't imagine doing a restaurant shop with a guest who didn't know. You might want to tell your guest next time. It's very helpful for them to get the names while you are doing the talking. I find it hard to stare at a nametag while I am conversing with someone.
@Roxie wrote:

Good for you! I can't imagine doing a restaurant shop with a guest who didn't know. You might want to tell your guest next time. It's very helpful for them to get the names while you are doing the talking. I find it hard to stare at a nametag while I am conversing with someone.

"And check the restroom" smiling smiley .....

My friend, whom I told we were going to the "Breast Bar" to do a shop, was so excited and he did great! He got the managers name, checked the men's room, noted the timing's and was overall a GREAT HELP! (He also stared at a lot of "tiny tops" too! ) lol...
I asked my guest, was that susan? And he said, "No. Her name tag said, XXX." LOL... He followed that with, "Maybe you need a new prescription." Referring to my glasses, of course. LOL... Worked twice. :-D
I used to do my restaurant shops with my ex. He was helpful in getting names and descriptions, and then texting them to me.

I recently went out with someone who doesn't know what I do, so he didn't know I was doing a shop. I didn't find it difficult necessarily, but it is nice to have the help.
Awesome! I have only done maybe 2 dining shops in my lifetime where my guest was not in the know. OMG, it was so stressful. They were trying to talk to me and I was busy and distracted. I take my DH or one of my two adult daughters and they are a BIG help.
I'm with Roxie. I can't imagine doing a restaurant shop with a guest who didn't know. The extra set of eyes and ears really helps.
I use the voice recorder on my phone. I wear a shirt with a pocket, put the phone there. It works wonders.

As far as names, most shops tell you if they do not have a name tag, just provide a description. They do not want us asking names, unless your instructions say otherwise? Another thing is some say their name, but are not doing their job right.. that is they mumble, turn their head when talking to you, etc...

My posts are solely based on my opinions and for my entertainment, contact a professional if you need real advice.

When you get in debt you become a slave. - Andrew Jackson
There are some restaurant shops that require the host's name - even when they don't wear a name tag. And they require the manager's name - even if you never see them. I've come up with lots of imaginative ways to get the names, but I still always feel it may give me away.

The restaurant shops get easier with experience. smiling smiley
@TravelGuru wrote:

I asked my guest, was that susan? And he said, "No. Her name tag said, XXX." LOL... He followed that with, "Maybe you need a new prescription." Referring to my glasses, of course. LOL... Worked twice. :-D

Things will get easier. Just like most other shops after you do a few you realize that 80% of the questions are the same for each one you do so you only need to remember to do a few extra things for each shop. I have done so many high end places that I look for the 80% of things even when not on a shop.
AS for the glasses, yes get a new prescription as there are optical shops begging for shoppers.
I love dining shops. If you are calm and act normal, you can easily ask the manager what their name is without seeming out of place. I always lead in with some comment about the current situation and get them chatty and then it's easy to slip in the question. I'll often tell them my first name and they will parrot me and then tell me theirs without actually asking them. If you give a compliment to the manager about something and ask them a question, then it's not awkward. You don't just open up with "What is your name?" when they visit your table and your going to be just fine.

The only time I feel any pressure is when it's a recorded pre-visit call and I need the name and they don't offer it and I have to ask for it at the end of the call.

Same thing with taking required photo's of your food. I may wait 2 seconds till they turn around and take a few steps away before I pick up my phone and shoot the plates. Your just another obsessed foodie who has to share a photo of everything you eat on Facebook or Yelp. It's so common that they think nothing of it. I know people that do this all the time.

When you are doing it and they see you and you try to hide what your doing that will cause suspicion and set off alarm bells. I'll even stand up to get a good angle of my partners plate.

The only time I may want to wait till no server is looking is when they require you photo a mixed drink, as nobody does that for Yelp. You can leave a drink sit for a few minutes until your server steps out of the section.

I think many people are over thinking this. I caught the Cheesecake factory shop again today. It was like catching a fastball.

I was reviewing a seafood buffet that popped up for yesterday and then the website went down. I started hitting F5 (reload page) Then I saw the Cheesecake shops. I tried twice to click accept and it gave me an SQL error due to the overload of other shoppers trying to get one.

The third try was the charm. I got a dinner shop and within a matter of minutes the rest of them were all gone!

I'm still trying to digest the 6 lobster tails and 3 plates of crab legs I ate last night. I need to avoid that shop next month. It's just too tempting to over eat. Then I tried the sea bass and fried shrimp and clams. This is more unhealthy than doing three FF shops in one day. smiling bouncing smiley

I did prepare myself for the shop by fasting all day and only drinking water. I have eaten there on my own dime before I did MS and at $42 a plate for buffet style all you can eat lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops and clams, I had to be completely on empty to go into this shop.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2015 09:25AM by scanman1.
You mean the rest were all gone of the Cheesecake Factory after you picked one? I believe it's designed that way. You are only allowed one and the rest go away after you pick one.

Kim
@kimmiemae wrote:

You mean the rest were all gone of the Cheesecake Factory after you picked one? I believe it's designed that way. You are only allowed one and the rest go away after you pick one.

I picked up three other shops for other dining places and the other CF shops didn't completely disappear yet. They don't go away like MF does with the audit shops where you take one and they are all hidden.

I hit refresh and there was two left and hit refresh again and they were gone.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/22/2015 09:15AM by scanman1.
CF sits around for a long time where I live as they have so many of them. For each location they will have 6-8 every month and there are 3-4 locations fairly close by. Unfortunately for some reason I cannot see my closest location and the company cannot figure out why so I need to call them to find out what is available.
For your comment about drinks, I did one where I needed to take a pic of everything ordered. We ordered a beer and the server brought it and then stayed at our table for over 5 minutes discussing the menu offerings, answering my required questions about food etc. By the time she left and I could take a picture the foam was down about an inch. I did get an inquiry about why the picture had no head when I gave it a 10. But my explanation was accepted. I really thought it would be unusual to whip out my camera and take the pic while the server was there discussing the menu.
How does one go about getting the dining shops? I did one about 3wks ago, thinking that it would be fun....ugh I received a fair rating and was momentarily devastated. Here I thought it was an awesome 'masterpiece' NOT, perhaps I'm not ready yet. However definitely want to redeem myself and hopefully have a better selection.
Restaurant shops typically revolve around the three main areas clients ask you to evaluate:
1. Employees
2. Food / Drink Quality
3. Cleanliness

Sometimes projects only focus of one or two of the above items only.

To be prepared, you have to plan ahead on what you need to capture, whether it's a physical description of an employee, specific display standards you need to look out for in the restaurant or maybe it's a phrase / offer your server needs to mention.

Either way, there are tools that assist us shoppers, whether it's a voice recorder (state laws vary, of course) or simply our smartphone. Find your niche on covertly taking notes, whether it's pretending to text or taking a short bathroom break. I also take pictures of my food and drinks to help me evaluate the food / drink quality and presentation.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 30 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Thank you everyonem, for all of your tips and suggestions. It's very helpful. Wish we had a CF here. I'd love to do one of those. I need a lot of practice with restaurants, thats for sure.
Thank you, BetteL - that drives me straight up a tree! We are just about to get our first CF in our town soon - SO excited as The Big Bang Theory is my favorite show - I know, Penny doesn't work there anymore, but still . . . I do lots of FF shops and several Casual Dining - my usual guests (spouse, sister, adult son) always know why we're there. I can't imagine trying to do this without your guest knowing - that's half your observation, let alone the distractions mentioned above!
@stellarose wrote:

How does one go about getting the dining shops? I did one about 3wks ago, thinking that it would be fun....ugh I received a fair rating and was momentarily devastated. Here I thought it was an awesome 'masterpiece' NOT, perhaps I'm not ready yet. However definitely want to redeem myself and hopefully have a better selection.

Hi and welcome to the Forum! To get restaurant shops you need to be signed up with lots of MSCs. I am signed up with over 200. Just use the link at the bottom of this page for a list. You'll gradually find restaurant shops. Good luck!
Just wandering in for potential tips and pointers. smiling smiley I'm working up my courage, so I can add restaurants into my routine. How exacting are the timings? How high of a percentage of them require pictures?

I'm not overly worried about keeping track of the details, 'cause I have years of experience in the field. Even now when I do go out to eat, I realize that I do check out the obscure. I KNOW what's going to get blown off, so will check out these types of things, to decide whether or not heinous stuff is happening in the kitchens,
Restaurant shops are not my favorite because I get home and then I am crabby that I have to do the report. However, I have observed that all are not the same. Some require exact timings of every little thing while others want more of a picture painted with a lot of description. I have found carry-outs to be fairly easy. Also I always audio record the shop in case I need to check on something. (which I always do.)
Personally, I'm planning to start and or to do lunch shops. I'm an early to bed gets up before the chickens, so I'd be completely brain dead if I do a dinner shop, and am expected to be coherent.

smiling smiley AND I could easily work some of the details into my conversations, by bringing up that I used to do this, cause then "we" could talk shop. WHEE!

I'm worried about sneaking pics, and to the second, timings.
You really don't have to sneak pictures because so many people photograph their meals for instagram, etc. For timings, if you are in a one party state, a hidden voice recorder does the trick. You can watch the time when you play it back.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login