Is mystery shopping over?

I have not been doing this very long. But it seems as if this business is folding up. I wonder if it will come back when the dust settles on this health crisis. What do you think? I miss my credit union shops, such an easy $15!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/03/2020 03:24PM by morocco77.

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I see no reason why businesses would quit MS completely. However, those that are cash-strapped when the economy begins to recover may be the last to re-start MS. Restaurants, hotels, bars, performance venues come to mind as ones likely to be slow to restart MS. The same goes for most soft-goods good retail. I think that, one people are back to commuting to jobs and banks reopen, parking and financial shops will rebound fairly quickly. Parking, due to cash integrity issues; banks due to regulatory oversight concerns. I also think that grocery MS will pick up fairly quickly since competition is so ferocious in that industry and they will have had fewer financial setbacks during the pandemic.

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.
I have hope that gas stations may return, even if it is just for cleanliness and compliance. MS regarding customer service, I have doubts. Let's face it, customer service has been on its way out since Walmart and chain restaurants began eliminating privately owned stores. We've seen the difference in McDonalds since they stopped getting shopped. The big business mindset seems to be, "We have something you want. You're going to buy it. Case closed. We are under no obligation to be nice about it." So I see this continuing with the added thought of, "Just consider yourselves lucky that we are still here to sell you stuff." It's just what I think and is probably worthless.

sestrahelena
My view of this is that it will be a long time before we establish what a 'new normal' will be and companies consider where to go from there. Locally the indication is that we should peak around mid-May with the virus here, but that is far from it being over. . . that is just that numbers of new cases per day/week are no longer getting larger. The government is not going to be able to keep up with handouts for 6-12 months and $1200 per person is not going to go very far in the greater scheme of things. The piper will have to be paid and whomever is elected in November will have to face the flood of red ink that can only be resolved with taxes exceeding expenditures for services including servicing the debt.

My guesstimate is that about a third to half of MSCs will fold. The principals may re-emerge at a later date as a new company. My guesstimate is that a large number of franchisees will go out of business because they were already struggling in a good economy with the franchiser just wanting more and more from them. Many of the clients we shop are franchisees. My guess is that we are looking at 2-3 years at least before shop opportunities return to the levels of 2019.
I daresay that age-related compliance shops and integrity shops will return--eventually. Those that focus strictly on timing also will be likely to return at some point. Customer service shops are likely to be mothballed for quite some time; businesses are likely to view them as expensive "extras" that simply are no longer relevant. As Flash indicated, the return of MS will be a long, difficult journey, and many MSCs are likely to fold. Flash's stark interpretation of the financial implications are very much on point.
I think it will still be around, but may be different and more lenient on the actions of employees especially in grocery stores and restaurants. At the same time, when the shop is focused more on cleanliness, branding, and correct marketing signage being displayed, like a gas station, I think it will be business as usual, eventually.
I think after this is over, mystery shopping will pretty much stay the same, including customer service attributes. What helped increase sales now will help increase sales later. But there may be less mystery shopping, as people get more used to shopping and doing business online, and brick-and-mortor has a hard time recovering. This was happening anyways, it just got accelerated.
There are industries that are thriving even now. When this clears, many consumers will be strapped financially either from direct losses to job and income or because they've shouldered a burden to help friends and family.
Prices will be depressed because many will not be able to spend. But that means those who have cash will have better buying power.

Many of today's "essential businesses" will come out of this with full wallets. Consumers on the other hand will be spending carefully, so those businesses that retained some cash and want to hold market share will have to work hard to differentiate themselves. MS helps them do that, and they'll have the cash to pay for it.

So I think gas stations, banking, and grocery stores will be back to normal pretty quickly. Restaurants may take a while.
Add parking to the "quick to recover" group. In major cities, as soon as lots of people go back to work, the garages will have to open. And when garages are operating, cash is known to "disappear," unless integrity shopping is intense. I suspect that there will be some consolidation in the parking management industry, with the financially stronger ones buying up others at bargain prices.

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.
I would not disagree with any of the opinions here. The legalities of various businesses might drive mystery shopping in future. Age and price compliance are legally mandated. For example, when Sears and K-Mart were ubiquitous, there were plenty of price audits. Recently, I have seen smaller scope assignments for unrevealed price checks which focus on one brand or product type. The Weights and Measures laws (???) require price accuracy. Carding for alcohol and tobacco will be needed if any in-person purchases are possible. These assignments should be available asap in whatever formats are possible.

This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before. - Leonard Bernstein
The mattress bunch will be at it for sure. They're probably looking in each others' windows right now.
@walesmaven wrote:

Add parking to the "quick to recover" group. In major cities, as soon as lots of people go back to work, the garages will have to open. And when garages are operating, cash is known to "disappear," unless integrity shopping is intense. I suspect that there will be some consolidation in the parking management industry, with the financially stronger ones buying up others at bargain prices.
Bars will have lots of integrity shops for PI's. Not so much for "customer service."

I'm enjoying my break.
I am enjoying my break too, I am cooking up a storm. I baked some bread and am just really enjoying my resources. I had some great communication with my squirrels and the resident chipmunk today...oh, and my husband.

I do think MS will come back, it always does. Some companies may go under, others may not. It might be a slow climb back. It all depends on what this virus does and how long it takes to get back on track. Sheesh, Alabama's governor is an ostrich (head in sand).
I wish we had chipmunks! We seem to have acquired a pet fox though so chipmunks probably wouldn't survive.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Well, if as soon as the shelter-in-place for many places get lifted and then BOOM people start dining/traveling immediately, I doubt that many restaurants/hotels are that eager to start hiring MSCs right away. They probably have more important things to take care of... like staying in business.

International travel will take even much longer to return to normal.

A large Sheraton hotel in Virginia just closed without any notice. I imagine many more are coming.
I read the other day that as many as half of the hotels in this country may be forced to permanently close. If that happens it would not bode well for the MSC that specialize in those types of shops.
@OHGuy wrote:

I read the other day that as many as half of the hotels in this country may be forced to permanently close. If that happens it would not bode well for the MSC that specialize in those types of shops.

Truth be told, it just won't bode well for the sup-par evaluators & editors. The MSC's can scale up/down as needed.....

Smaller group of clients. Smaller group of shoppers and editors.
@OHGuy wrote:

I read the other day that as many as half of the hotels in this country may be forced to permanently close. If that happens it would not bode well for the MSC that specialize in those types of shops.

That's a bit misleading. Things are different when a hotel closes than most other businesses. Let's say a local bookstore goes out of business because no customers are coming in. The owner may or may not be forced to file bankruptcy. If so whoever they owe may take over the inventory and sell it. Likely the owner will just sell and pocket the money. If they owned their building themselves they might sell it or rent it to another business or they may have rented, in which case the landlord will have to find another tenant. Either way it is highly unlikely another local bookstore will open in that location. The business truly is gone.

Hotels, however, are a completely different story. They are capital intensive and completely tied to the real estate. A huge majority of hotels are owned by REITS (real estate investment trusts) or investment companies. For instance in the casino industry almost all of the majors have sold the physical casinos and leased them back. Many hotels have been that way for ages. The ones that are owned and operated by the same person the operation and ownership are generally separated in some way. So that separates the physical location and business of running a hotel. So let's say the Hampton Inn down the street goes out of business because of having to shut down for 4 months. In a hypothetical situation let's say it's owned by a company that owns a lot of hotels franchised from different company. They may also own the Courtyard next door and the Holiday Inn in the next town over. Whatever. So when they shut down it's the hotel operating company that shuts. They normally default on their rent to the entity that owns the hotel, which often would have the same owner even though they are two different entities. That entity may have enough money to make the loan payments or, more likely they would also go bankrupt. At that point the hotel would be sold at auction. But it's still a hotel. Whoever buys it would just open another hotel there. Because they wouldn't be able to open a car dealership in the same building. It kind of has to be a hotel. Now, would it move up or down the quality scale? Very likely. Would it possibly be an empty building for a year? Very possible. But it is very rare that it would cease to be a hotel ever again. Unless their is massive overbuild, it's a physically aging property, or it's property value ends up being higher by tearing it down and putting something else up, it almost always will reopen as a hotel.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
There are three boutique MSCs that specialist in hotels that I really love to work for... just hoping they pull through! So far, boards completely empty.
I wonder if cruises will come back, and if shoppers will still have a strong jones for them.
It's going to take years for the cruises to come back, but I didn't know many shoppers liked doing them. I had no desire to do one before, definitely not in the future.
Some rich guy can probably buy a cruise ship to turn into a gargantuan personal yacht on the cheap in six months.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
It would cost a lot to renovate...taking out all of those teeny weeny rooms...you'd pretty much have to gut the whole damn thing and rebuild it. If you have that much money, just get a new one.

@bgriffin wrote:

Some rich guy can probably buy a cruise ship to turn into a gargantuan personal yacht on the cheap in six months.
The pandemic highlights issues with illness streaks on cruise ships but it didn't start yesterday with Covid-19.
There have been nasty illness issues with cruises for years, maybe decades. Maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with the sanitation standards or procedures. Once something takes hold on a cruise ship it just seems to bounce around for a while infecting people. Or if not the sanitation standards, it's in the core way the ships are engineered or the way these businesses operate. There's a certain amount of potential risk to your health that just comes along with the act of climbing aboard a cruise ship. Covid-19 gives the issue no quarter but it's not chapter one.

I think it will be a long, long time before the cruise lines recover. Certainly there will be some attrition and consolidation in the industry. The ships themselves will survive. Cruise ships are floating hotels. Like someone else said about hotels that close they are a physical asset that is purpose-built. So some will close down, sit idle, get sold, and get remodeled. Some may be re purposed. But most of them will remain as cruise ships.

quote="Susan L."]
I wonder if cruises will come back, and if shoppers will still have a strong jones for them.[/quote]

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/09/2020 08:09AM by JustForFun.
Some are modular, with rooms that can be pulled out and remodeled off the ship Or just replaced outright. Like modular homes that plug into the side of a shell.

Like changing the batteries in your remote, except there's a toilet to connect too.

@JASFLALMT wrote:

It would cost a lot to renovate...taking out all of those teeny weeny rooms...you'd pretty much have to gut the whole damn thing and rebuild it. If you have that much money, just get a new one.

@bgriffin wrote:

Some rich guy can probably buy a cruise ship to turn into a gargantuan personal yacht on the cheap in six months.
I read an article online the other day about new disinfecting technologies being developed for the cruise industry, so we'll see....they did sound promising...
I've found on the cruises I've been on that the ship's crew cleaned constantly. The rooms were kept clean, railings and decks were cleaned constantly, and painting was ongoing. The problem is when at least one sick passenger boards the ship and the illness then spreads due to close quarters, buffet lines etc. Maybe buffets or self-serve buffets will be eliminated, but I certainly wouldn't blame the ship cleanliness for disease outbreaks. The crew members work their hinies off cleaning everyday. Cattle lines on embarkation and debarkation could also be improved.

I hope they come back for the sake of those who enjoy cruising.

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A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.

Zen Shin Talks
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