Any hints on getting faster in writing up reports?

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it takes me FOREVER to write up post-shop reports. The majority of my shops have been higher end restaurant shops for Coyle. It takes me HOURS and HOURS.

Any hints on getting FASTER with writing up my reports??

Thanks!

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Those Coyle reports are probably some of the most intense in the whole MS industry. You may want to add some less intense hotel and dining shops to your schedule if you want a break. Of course, you could also branch out into, say, bank shops, where the reports are more in line with the fees.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
A former teacher once quipped: The best way to become a better writer is to read more, but not fluff. In doing so one trains the brain to think in organized sentences, paragraphs, and chapters which communicate ideas and arguments. The best way to become quicker at writing it to become a better note taker. Read with pen in hand. Read academic history; historians, having to read much, know bad writing and try to rise above it.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/2018 01:11PM by Rousseau.
You mentioned "post-shop". How much preparation can you do during the shop? For example, can you spend a minute or two during the restroom evaluation creating notes for everything that transpired so far? If you have a guest, can they drive after the shop so that you can work on your notes or the actual survey?

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time. - John Lubbock, "Recreation," The Use of Life, 1894
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I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
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Some ideas for how to speed up writing reports:
1. Do similar shops for the same MSC. You will become better acquainted with the questions and the flow of the report form. You will be more aware of required observations and have to check your notes less frequently in order to write the reports.
2. How well do you type/keyboard? I have become a very fast typist (largely due to having terrible handwriting), which greatly speeds up the writing of reports.
3. Improve your overall writing ability - such as by reading a lot or even taking a writing course.
4. If you have audio recordings, listen to them on your drive home before writing the report. Listen to them while writing the reports.
5. Pause between shops and make certain you have good notes from each shop so that you don't have to rack your brains for a specific required detail.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@janedoe42014 wrote:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it takes me FOREVER to write up post-shop reports. The majority of my shops have been higher end restaurant shops for Coyle. It takes me HOURS and HOURS.

Any hints on getting FASTER with writing up my reports??

Thanks!

Once I did more than a handful of those Coyle restaurants, I took a short break. I then came back and thought, "These aren't really that hard????" Maybe take a break? I also think that they more you do for them, the easier the reports become.
The one piece of advice I can share is to keep your thoughts concise and short. Do not use flowery language; simply state what happened objectively. A few short sentences is not only easier to read, but easier to understand as well. Leave no room for the client/editor to assume anything.
Doing a lot of apartment shops, I realized I was writing basically the same things over and over again. So, I just took those parts and made a few generic examples that I saved in a Word document. I made that document into my template. Now, when I write a report, I just open my template and I find about 80% of the time, I just need to modify my generic examples to fit the specific shop. I have examples covering every section of the report.

For example: "When I entered the leasing office, a male/female staff member was sitting at a desk. He/She looked up, smiled and said hi. I said I had an appointment with XXXX. He/She said that was him/her, stood up and shook my hand."

Instead of typing that out every single time, i just edit the words that need to be changed. About 20% of the time, something happens that I don't have an example for, and then I write something new. Overall, I've found this technique helps to get the narrative done quickly and makes sure I've covered everything that is going to be asked in the report. I spend a little time touching up the whole narrative, then just copy and paste into the report. Then I go through and answer all the Yes/No questions based on my narrative. I can complete most apartment shop reports in about 30 minutes.

You know how a restaurant shop should go. You know what to expect when you walk in, get seated, when the waiter comes by, etc. You know what you're going to be asked about in the report, so why not make a template that covers all of that?
Answer all yes and no answers, all questions asked. I follow the order of the questions. When I am in a restaurant I simply take lots of timing notes that are requested. The same with names and descriptions. Food is easy to remember, sales receipt has a lot of information.
@TroyHawkins
Be careful with such templates.... some companies frown on that practice as, when seeing such similar wording in reports, clients strat to really question their veracity. I don’t remember which one, but one MSC specifically put out a notice that such a practice would lead to deactivation.....

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@bgriffin wrote:

Or be like me, avoid shops with long reports at all costs.

LOLOLOL

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.
I use templates for dining shops that I do a lot, but only as a very rough outline. I change up the order when possible, and don't use the same phrasing or sentence structure from shop to shop. I do individualize to each shop. So, I mainly use them to remember to include all aspects of the shop, but once I do one, subsequent ones for the same restaurant (or similar ones) go more quickly. It's definitely faster than starting from scratch each time.

You have to like to write, too. It's so much more laborious if you don't. I don't mind narrative-heavy shops, but the reward has to be worth it!

I learn something new every day, but not everyday!
I've learned to never trust spell-check or my phone's auto-fill feature.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/24/2018 07:46PM by BirdyC.
There used to be a grammar program that had a rephrasing app with it. You could hight light the section and it would offer suggestions.
I have actually become slower at completing narratives over the years....not faster. Part of this is that i didn't wear glasses when I started MSing...and the glasses interfere with my ability to 'speed-proof' documents. I have probably lost some dexterity over the years as well, and I'm not editing 10 hours a day like I used to. In the past, I could always do a full Coyle dinner in under 2 hours and now I'm lucky to complete it in 3 hours.

That said, a huge part of making the assignments easier to complete is knowing the standards cold. If you know the checklist, it will make the writing portion easier because you will not have to spend time comparing the two.

Another part is getting away from any reliance on audio recording. While they may aid you remembering details, that's a very time consuming process. Just spend the time to train yourself to take accurate notes of details like timing and names, and allow the rest to flow from your memory. I have a relatively bad memory and can do this, so imagine anyone can with practice.

Lastly, if you are like me and just don't type as fast as you used to, know the writing format well and utilize speech-to-text applications. They are much better than they used to be. If you can dictate your report while looking at your notes, all you need is a single proofing/clean-up pass, and then score the report while you paste the narrative in.
Steve, I am so relieved to read the issues you have with reports. Not relieved for you but for me. For years I have been reading about the more successful sounding shoppers saying they can finish a report in 5 minutes for a short one or 20-45 minutes for one I always slave over for at least and hour and a half. It takes me at least 5 minutes to do all the clean up work of downloading pics, checking to see which are clear or fuzzy of cut something off and making sure they are well enough differentiated that I attach the correct one. Some say they can do a post office shop in 5-10 minutes. It takes me that long to sign on and then enter the 26 digit number and the other even longer number they want in the report.
So thank you Steve for letting me/us know one of our top shoppers might take 3 hours to do a restaurant report. I feel so much better about myself after reading your post above.
I appreciate all the suggestions given above but my memory is not good enough to remember the exact quotes from the beginning and ending of a long dining shop. I have however taken to turning off my device after the main meal is served and recording the time and then turning it back on around dessert. That has greatly reduced time listening to my personal recording on a 2 hour restaurant report. A stopwatch just totally messes me up.
Practice does make perfect up to the capacity of our abilities. I fear I will never be a quick typist or a virtuoso at any musical instrument no matter how long I practice. In the meantime I am trying to make templates for common shops and remember to use and adjust a lot so the report is not repetitive from one job to the next. It does save a lot of time in the end. And trying not to be so verbose although that is very hard for me. (obviously)
Recordings don't slow me down a bit. I've become accustomed to having them running in the background while filling in a report. I only stop when wanting to capture a direct quote. Granted, because dining or other lifestyle shops are not part of my repertoire there is little dead air so most are anywhere from five to 30 minutes. .I don't feel video or audio recording makes me any less the professional because I don't rely on them beyond timing and those direct quotes. For shorter shops making notes is tedious and can be conspicuous.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/2018 02:17AM by LisaSTL.
@LisaSTL wrote:

Recordings don't slow me down a bit.

I have a friend I could send you to dinner with who'd change your opinion on that winking smiley

I'm not insinuating that recordings are unprofessional. I just realized that for things like multi-course meals with a guest, the process was slowing me down. I often will still make a recording as a back-up, but rarely rely on it to complete the narrative. My goal would be to write the dining narrative in less time that it took to have the meal. Some of the restaurant evaluations I do can be over 2 hours of time at the location, not to mention the reservation call, food and facility narratives, etc.

When my notes app recently glitched and deleted all of my timing data, I had to count on the recording and try to discern the sound of a busser clearing plates over my guest chatting for 2 hours during the meal. It was a conversation I was only moderately interested in during the meal, and after I had to review it for the purpose of creating the report...that friend went to the back of the line for dinner guests.
@sandyf wrote:

Some say they can do a post office shop in 5-10 minutes. It takes me that long to sign on and then enter the 26 digit number and the other even longer number they want in the report.

The reason I can report a post office shop in 5-10 minutes is because I do it using the Mobi Audit app on my phone immediately after I leave the location. I do have to wear my glasses while entering the tracking and bill ID but it only takes a few seconds to enter those numbers. Do you not have a smartphone or do you just not like using the app?
I don't worry about the time it takes me to do a report..since I space out jobs I have time to spare. I'd rather be right than quick. I take much longer doing a nice dinner report, lots of texts to myself, going to the restroom to update timings, etc. My eyes are definitely not up to par, so, i have to be careful checking everything I write a couple times, my memory is better than my eyes.... who cares how long it takes, I had a great meal, good company (wishful thinking) and did the report...one hour, 2 hours, 40 minutes, it's all good that I can even do it.....my problem is driving home after a couple drinks.....

Live consciously....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/26/2018 07:30PM by Irene_L.A..
@Irene_L.A. wrote:

my problem is driving home after a couple drinks.....

Uber is your friend, Irene. Much less expensive and safer than a DUI, and you get to enjoy the assignment.
I just did my first Coyle bar report, and it took me about four hours! There were four separate narratives. I wrote out the details using my timing notes, but then went and revised with a couple of their narrative examples by my side, incorporating features from both. I think I missed a section that I wasn't sure if I was supposed to fill out, and I haven't heard back yet from the editor. But hoping my first report is overall a success. I'm sure it gets easier as you do more. However, I am not sure when I'll be ready for those super long hotel reports!
@SteveSoCal wrote:

@Irene_L.A. wrote:

my problem is driving home after a couple drinks.....

Uber is your friend, Irene. Much less expensive and safer than a DUI, and you get to enjoy the assignment.
Good advice as I'm doing a very high end in Hollywood next month i guess I'd better sign up now.

Live consciously....
@Irene_L.A. wrote:

i guess I'd better sign up now.

I'll send you a referral code and we both get a discount if you sign up!
@JASFLALMT wrote:

@sandyf wrote:

Some say they can do a post office shop in 5-10 minutes. It takes me that long to sign on and then enter the 26 digit number and the other even longer number they want in the report.

The reason I can report a post office shop in 5-10 minutes is because I do it using the Mobi Audit app on my phone immediately after I leave the location. I do have to wear my glasses while entering the tracking and bill ID but it only takes a few seconds to enter those numbers. Do you not have a smartphone or do you just not like using the app?

I also do the PO shops on my phone right after the shop and it takes me 10mins max. I use voice-to-text for all my number heavy data entry. So much faster to read off the numbers than to go back and forth from the screen/keypad to the receipt.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/28/2018 06:24AM by mcav0y.
I haven't done those Coyle ones, but I've tried to cut down on the lengths of my narrative. I am a writer/journalist so I've learned to "write tight" and it does take practice.

Typically I only state what the staff said or did, not what I say or do in response, unless it's relevant. So, the cashier asked me this, told me that, greeted me this way, etc., and I don't state my answers unless it was out of the ordinary.

Make sure your verbs are about the action that really matters. Example: "The cashier started to ring up my sale." Most of the time, there's no reason to say "started to" unless s/he was interrupted, but I see it all the time. Also, "I noticed the machine was out of order." Of course you noticed it. Just say it was out of order.

If you can, do the report in smaller bites. Write some, save and take a break, write more, save again.

@janedoe42014 wrote:

I don’t know if it’s just me, but it takes me FOREVER to write up post-shop reports. The majority of my shops have been higher end restaurant shops for Coyle. It takes me HOURS and HOURS.

Any hints on getting FASTER with writing up my reports??

Thanks!
I find it's easier to let my recording device (in my case a phone) continue to run, because I'm afraid I would forget to turn it back on. However, it's helpful for me to do a screen shot showing the elapsed time. That way I know I can fast forward through the recording to avoid the dead time in the middle.
@sandyf wrote:

I appreciate all the suggestions given above but my memory is not good enough to remember the exact quotes from the beginning and ending of a long dining shop. I have however taken to turning off my device after the main meal is served and recording the time and then turning it back on around dessert. That has greatly reduced time listening to my personal recording on a 2 hour restaurant report. A stopwatch just totally messes me up.

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
Type the following words as a list and add a question mark. who? what? where? how? when? Answer all of these with brevity and specificity and you'll be ok. Narrative done!
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