If you have to keep calling the same restaurant and asking questions, what would you ask?

I'm grateful to get good, steady work from a MSC whose biggest client is a chain of fast food Mexican joints. I'm one of the few people who lives close to one particular location, so I am usually assigned to eat there twice a month. The MSC doesn't have any policy about not shopping a location in X amount of days or months, and I'm beginning to think the employees are starting to notice me.

This is okay for the most part because when I go in, I keep my interactions minimal and sit in an area of the restaurant where I can see them, but they can't see me all that well. But one thing I don't like is that I have to keep calling every time I visit, and I simply have run out of questions to ask. I'll ask them if they have an item that they're sometimes out of in stock, I'll ask about their hours... but what else can I ask? At some point, if they haven't figured it out already, the fact they get a call from the same couple of numbers twice a month (and it's usually the same guy answering the phone) with the same questions should tip them off. I try to call after I've made my visit, but even so, I feel like I should vary things up but I'm drawing blanks.

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@Misanthrope wrote:

I'm grateful to get good, steady work from a MSC whose biggest client is a chain of fast food Mexican joints. I'm one of the few people who lives close to one particular location, so I am usually assigned to eat there twice a month. The MSC doesn't have any policy about not shopping a location in X amount of days or months, and I'm beginning to think the employees are starting to notice me.

This is okay for the most part because when I go in, I keep my interactions minimal and sit in an area of the restaurant where I can see them, but they can't see me all that well. But one thing I don't like is that I have to keep calling every time I visit, and I simply have run out of questions to ask. I'll ask them if they have an item that they're sometimes out of in stock, I'll ask about their hours... but what else can I ask? At some point, if they haven't figured it out already, the fact they get a call from the same couple of numbers twice a month (and it's usually the same guy answering the phone) with the same questions should tip them off. I try to call after I've made my visit, but even so, I feel like I should vary things up but I'm drawing blanks.


Well, you can call at a different time so you can get a different person and you can use *67 to block your number.

****************


Motivation increases when we assume large responsibilities with a short deadline.
When I did those I almost always called after my visit. I had a wide variety of questions. What are your hours? Do you deliver? How long do I need to give you for a large carry out order? How far in advance do I need to give for a catering order (but you have to stress you aren't ready to now)? I'm ordering for several people in my office, is it easier to fax in an order or use the app? I'm ordering for several people can I put them all on different cards? When are you running the free burrito with gift card purchase promo?

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Oh yeah, how do I get there? When will the general manager be in?

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Gluten free? Calorie listing available? Allergy possibilities? That would be tough to continue to be creative about it.
I used to go to the FAQ page on the company website and use those questions on the phone calls. And I always did the phone calls AFTER the shop, usually the following day just before I finished the report.
Do you have a kid's menu? What's on your kids menu? Can I place my order over the phone? Do you sell beer at your location? What time do you open for lunch? Do you take American Express? Do you take Discover? I've never been there, what is the least spicy meat? Are you hiring?

You're supposed to make the phone call the same day as your shop, Morledzep.
Do you offer Wi-Fi? Are you hiring? What cross streets/landmarks are near you? What would it cost for me to get a bowl of grilled chicken? Do you have kids meals? Did anyone turn in sunglasses/set of keys/baseball hat/stuffed animal/glove?
i've got 2 local mexican places too. The 'usual' to me is directions and hours. I will ask if they have specials when I call.
And if that gets boring, you could always try, "Is it true that your building's haunted?"

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Where I live, business owners get asked that a lot. I mean, ~I~ haven't asked it yet, but that doesn't mean I haven't been tempted. You could also ask how much of their food is locally sourced (if any), who decorated the interior, which music was playing at such and such a time, what will be playing that night, if they ever have live musicians or dancing, if so-and-so is still working there, if they will be working that day/evening/night, if they have a dress code, if they would allow your friend's service animal (you could choose anything---dog, lizard, cat, monkey, ferret, rabbit, et cetera), if they will substitute one item for another, if they have any items not listed on the menu, or if they will prepare a menu item in a slightly different way than it's usually prepared. You could also try asking them if stock is available, if they cater, or if they will be participating in [insert name of local event or celebration].
Or you could do a little background reading, see if any famous people have visited, then call up and ask if it's true. tongue sticking out smiley If there's anything like that, might be interesting to know if the employee knows the history or if they blab he identity of any VIP guests.
I wouldn't call during a peak time and ask a question that requires you to be put on hold while the associate checks with team members.
I'm starting to feel the same way about one of the locations I shop on a regular basis. I feel like they must recognize my voice by now! I usually ask about hours, directions, if they have carnitas back, etc. This thread has given me some great ideas for new questions! I alternate between calling from my cell phone and my land line so they won't see the same number come up every time. I should start using my other family members' cell phones, too....

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
There is one shop that I do and I need to make a call. When I read the guidelines it says not to ask if you were hiring or did I leave anything behind.
Isaiah, I have never seen that. I just looked through the reference guides online to double check, and there is nothing about that.
Mmmm,GA peach, that might go well for other types of restaurants, but for this particular Mexican Grill, I think everyone knows they don't serve breakfast.
@ JASFLAMT I know they don't serve breakfast and for the most part, I haven't seen any coupons. I didn't know the answers to either of these questions before I started to shop them. Do you think it's too much of an obvious question? It felt natural for me to ask when I did. I guess it's more like are you open early during breakfast hours. Just a slight variation on just asking what time do you open. Most questions can be answered with a visit to the web site anyhow. So I feel more awkward asking any question I know I can find for myself. It seems like the reports are more about the phone call itself (answered in a certain amount of rings, identify name and location, spoke clearly/easy to understand, upbeat demeanor, how the call was closed, etc.) I think I saw in a post that you used to edit for them?
Yes, it's true I was an editor for them for awhile, and I still avidly shop for them, completing sometimes six or more shops per month. I didn't mean to sound rude or anything. I do think the breakfast thing is a bit of an obvious question to most people who eat Tex Mex or Mexican food. I know that Taco Bell serves breakfast, but other than Huevos Rancheros at traditional Mexican restaurants (which can be ordered at any time of day), most Mexican restaurants do not serve breakfast. I think the coupon question will generate some interesting answers, though, since from time to time they do have some crazy promotions (dress up like a burrito and other weird things to get free or discounted food). That one is a good call. And yes, you are right, it is mainly to see how their phone etiquette and knowledge of restaurant operations/menu etc. is presented to callers.
At one location I shop the parking is a hassle and they sometimes have long lines. I often ask them...how is the line right now as i am planning to come in. Or I ask them to look out the window and see if parking seems easy right then. The past few months I have been asking ecoli and noro virus related questions. So at first I asked what was going on with the ecoli scare and if that restaurant had an issue. Yesterday I asked if they had all the regular items or if some were taken away due to the scares. The answers were simple to more complicated but I appreciated hearing one month from the manager who happened to answer my call and told me all that particular restaurant had done. I felt better about eating there. Sometimes I just ask where the best place to park is as they only validate for 15 minutes and they usually will give me some hints. I do not get the same person over and over and I regularly do 2 locations but if the visit requires to ask in person something I just asked the last month that was not a usual type thing many people might ask I will skip it and not do it that month.
@GApeach wrote:

Do you offer any coupons? Are you open for breakfast?

In my humble opinion they should be offering coupons right now when their business if off by 15-30%, When I ate there yesterday I fully expected someone to come around and give me a buy one get one for next time. But,no one did that. This would help to keep people returning while business is off right now.
I have a few of them in my area and I never shop the same location more than one a month and almost never back to back months. So I always ask the exact same question about hours, and I haven't felt yet like they knew it was me calling again. I assume they get the same questions over and over so I haven't worried about it yet.

Shopper in California's Bay Area
@sandyf wrote:

@GApeach wrote:

Do you offer any coupons? Are you open for breakfast?

In my humble opinion they should be offering coupons right now when their business if off by 15-30%, When I ate there yesterday I fully expected someone to come around and give me a buy one get one for next time. But,no one did that. This would help to keep people returning while business is off right now.
I would not be surprised if in the coming months the knowledge question for the company would relate to asking something about disease outbreaks or food handling.
You can also try different accents or put your index finger against one of your nostrils when you call. It will change sound of your voice.

"To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful." Edward R. Murrow

Thou shalt not steal. I mean defensively. On offense, indeed thou shall steal and thou must.--Branch Rickey
Interestingly enough, last night I did ask a food handling question for a recent shop. I asked them, "Do you use leftover food from the day before for orders being prepared that day?" The answer was, "We throw anything that has been used to make orders on our line away each night, and we make fresh food daily. We might occasionally have an extra pan of salsa that was made the night before and not put on the line that we will use at lunch, but otherwise we make all of our food fresh each day."
Do you have any vegetarian/vegan options? Is your restaurant wheelchair accessible?

You can also look up the restaurant on Yelp and read the reviews. Sometimes the reviewers will mention questions they've asked servers.
Do you have wi-fi?
Is your patio open?
Do you serve beer at this location?
How late are you open today?
Where exactly is your restaurant?
How can I get to your location from (name an intersection at least two miles away)?
Are you near the bank? (And see how they fluster.)
Are you open on Sundays?

Is Dave there? (Just kidding, for C & C fans only. Do NOT ask this question because Millennials will NOT get it.)
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