Coyle Hospitality rotation question

I took a break from mystery shopping and have come back to it after about a year's hiatus. I used to do heavy work with Coyle in New York, where they have a LOT of restaurants. It used to be you could do any one of their restaurants roughly once per year, some had shorter rotations (6 months or so) or they would waive it if they were desperate for mystery shoppers.

A few days ago I had a restaurant assigned to me that I had done maybe a year ago, only to have it un-assigned to me and the contract scheduler told me that she had been informed that you now could NEVER return to a location after mystery shopping it once. I asked her to confirm if this was company wide, or just for this specific location/client, and she said she was told it was company-wide, but not publicized. I find this very odd and worrisome, because I've already been assigned two restaurants I've done in the past for them.

Can anyone confirm this is a new rule at Coyle, that you can NEVER return to a client of theirs after mystery shopping them? If so, when did this go into effect?

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They will run out of shoppers then. Too bad they run so many off.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Yes, it is a new rule - and I think it did just go into effect like a few days ago. My understanding is that it is company wide - but they do realize they will be making exceptions for difficult to assign locations.
@MickeyB wrote:

Yes, it is a new rule - and I think it did just go into effect like a few days ago. My understanding is that it is company wide - but they do realize they will be making exceptions for difficult to assign locations.

That's insane and this would take coyle from one of my favorite to least favorite places to work with. What on earth could've prompted this... and why didn't they let us know publicly?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/12/2019 10:51PM by Misanthrope.
I had the same thing happen this week...and then had a talk with the powers that be about it.

I think @bgriffin is correct and a continual flow of new shoppers can't be sustained over time. I have requested that they take a closer look at the policy, but at a minimum send out an email to all evaluators to clarify the policy, because it just adds to the scheduling frustration when there's no clear policy statement.

The issue basically comes from restaurant managers pushing back when they review video, see the same shoppers coming back regularly, and feel like the shoppers are known. I personally think that better shopper training on how to not to be a known shopper would be a better solution. Many shoppers don't know to set up Google voice numbers, have alternate email addresses, bring different guests along, etc.

Hopefully a solution that makes everyone happy can be found. I'm in a situation where it would bring my shopping for them to a near standstill as far as restaurants go. Of the 1 or 2 new restaurants that crop up in Los Angeles each year, I'm now in the pool of hundreds of shoppers applying for the single assignment and not given any preference for it, since they use outside schedulers for most the restaurants now.

They need to do a massive re-think on the scheduling system if this is going to overall policy going forward....
It does seem like a bit … not sure the right word … shortsighted? I doesn't really affect me that much because I don't do a lot of restaurants anyway, and hotels already had this rule.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/12/2019 11:23PM by MickeyB.
@MickeyB wrote:

I doesn't really affect me that much because I don't do a lot of restaurants anyway, and hotels already had this rule.

But some of our favorite hotel locations are also restaurant shops, and it would suck to never to be able to go back...even 5 years later with a different guest.

You also live in an area that doesn't have a whole lot of high-end dining shops from them. For me, that's a major appeal to working with them. Taking a less desirable shop in exchange for a 3-star dining shop (we don't actually have Michelin ratings in LA anymore) a few times a year is at the core of my dating life in L.A. winking smiley
In New York I've never gone to a restaurant and been waitied on by the same staff year after year. There's lots of turnover, how on Earth are they concerned about shoppers being recognized after so much time passes?
@Misanthrope wrote:

In New York I've never gone to a restaurant and been waitied on by the same staff year after year. There's lots of turnover, how on Earth are they concerned about shoppers being recognized after so much time passes?

The issue probably stems from the not so desirable and out of the way locations that are really hard to schedule - the ones that people only agree to do as favors. I know there is one by me that I have been to four times in the past two years. It's a small out of the way location where the vast majority of people who do patronize it are locals and regulars that are there weekly. It's not a place that you just "happen to be driving by" and so a diner who shows up four different times - clearly isn't a local but also didn't just "happen by" that many times... When you add situations like that to some unnatural behaviors (having to ask for the manager, ordering three courses in more casual places where people usually just split a bottle of wine and have a flatbread at a table, refusing cocktails at the table but then moving to the bar which is literally six feet from the table to order a drink...) I can see where this might lead to some issues.
I saw locations I had visited get removed, and then have been assigned new to me locations.

So is this really once and done? That would rule out our local restaurants. Before, it seemed like the rule was yearly. I cannot imagine how they will get enough shoppers to write their complex reports.
Ugh, I hope this takes a while to go into effect. I love their fast casual Portuguese restaurant and have visited almost all of the locations in my area.
Wow! That’s very unfortunate. They have a dozen or so clients near me and I’ve visited them all. They have not had many new clients in the last few years in my area.
@eyelove2shop I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a fast casual Portuguese restaurant. I would be there all the time lol. Where my boyfriend lives, there's a dozen Portuguese places within 5 miles and I'm super jealous about that.

Shopping the South Jersey Shore
I had no idea either. I just googled, "fast casual Portugueses restaurant" and Google doesn't know either. Can't find one in Wikipedia either. Sigh ....
@Jenny Cassada wrote:

@eyelove2shop I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a fast casual Portuguese restaurant. I would be there all the time lol. Where my boyfriend lives, there's a dozen Portuguese places within 5 miles and I'm super jealous about that.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I was just assigned a restaurant that I had done a few years ago. It's a restaurant down the street that is part of a hotel. Should I contact the scheduler? What is interesting this group used to have a max age and minimum income level and that was removed this month.
I also had several assigned to me, some only the day before taken off me... The thing is I go to most of these restaurants anyway so whilst I get that they want different perspectives I can't understand the once only rule. Let's hope it changes back!
@Jenny Cassada wrote:

@eyelove2shop I didn't even know that there was such a thing as a fast casual Portuguese restaurant. I would be there all the time lol. Where my boyfriend lives, there's a dozen Portuguese places within 5 miles and I'm super jealous about that.

One of my favorite places to visit. The restaurants are located in 4 states.
@SteveSoCal wrote:


The issue basically comes from restaurant managers pushing back when they review video, see the same shoppers coming back regularly, and feel like the shoppers are known.

Restaurant managers are busy people. Is it common for them to review video on the off chance that they recognize the mystery shopper?
Hmm. Some shoppers dream of some shops that Coyle has, and they work their way up to this level. It sounds like these shops are rare and practically precious! grinning smiley Or, they are being kept from the masses. Who would not want to try something like that and make it work?


@Niner wrote:

I saw locations I had visited get removed, and then have been assigned new to me locations.

So is this really once and done? That would rule out our local restaurants. Before, it seemed like the rule was yearly. I cannot imagine how they will get enough shoppers to write their complex reports.

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
For me - and Steve is right, I don't have as many really high end restaurants that are on Coyle's boards (I live in Seattle, so we have high end places, they just are not Coyle's clients) - but I don't really see the appeal of Coyle's restaurant shops. Granted, they are not a part of my dating life (like Steve's), but I would rather just pay to go to these places and order what I want then have to deal with the wonky ordering requirements that never match what the actual clientele orders at these places. I also have a job where we often go to these places for work meetings or with clients.

My absolute FAVORITE restaurant in Seattle is on the board right now. It's not a cheap place (max reimbursement is $250 for the shop) I've never done the shop though because what I love about the place is the killer wine list (that's why everyone goes to this restaurant anyway) and being limited to one glass of wine at the table, while ordering three courses (which I would never do otherwise) is just not my idea of a good evening out. Couple that with having to write a eight page report on it, no thanks. So to all the other Seattle shoppers - have at it. And it is a really good restaurant...

Now the hotels on the other hand, Coyle does have some great experiences there that are worth the effort and the work. The restaurants that I do take from Coyle are those that I am doing as "favors" in the hope that maybe I will get the hotel or resort assignment I want. So honestly - and I know I am in the minority here - I sort of feel like this new rule might be a positive for me. No longer will I be asked to take the less desirable restaurant shops for the hotels? Maybe... though my guess is that the less desirable restaurant shops are going to be even that much harder to schedule now than ever before.
@Book wrote:


Restaurant managers are busy people. Is it common for them to review video on the off chance that they recognize the mystery shopper?

It's my understanding that they review the video to discredit unfavorable shopper reports. With the advent of high-resolution cameras in almost all retail places, they can now save high resolution photo of the shoppers and share them around.

@carlsbadguy I know they are making exceptions for hard-to-schedule locations and I think that would be one of them. You are a good fit for that location, so I don't think being a repeat shopper would be an issue there.

For what it's worth, after I spoke with management at Coyle they gave me the removed shop back, and I went last night. I can assure you they did NOT know I was shopper. I was mainly upset about the shop being removed because I had a promised a friend dinner there for their birthday...so I was about to be stuck with a very large bill or having to cancel on my friend.

(Edited because of the typo that completely changed the context)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/14/2019 04:30PM by SteveSoCal.
@MickeyB wrote:

I sort of feel like this new rule might be a positive for me. No longer will I be asked to take the less desirable restaurant shops for the hotels?

Yeah...but my guess is that those will be labeled as the 'exception' and the really desirable sushi houses and steak places will be on the 'never again' list. It's the worst of both worlds!

P.S. If you do the bar first and daly about there, you can bring a practically full glass of wine to the table and kinda get 2 glasses at the table, but I agree it's not the best dining experience. When I fist started with Coyle, bottles were allowed at the higher-end restaurants. I miss that....
What makes you think they knew you were a shopper?

@SteveSoCal wrote:

@Book wrote:


Restaurant managers are busy people. Is it common for them to review video on the off chance that they recognize the mystery shopper?

It's my understanding that they review the video to discredit unfavorable shopper reports. With the advent of high-resolution cameras in almost all retail places, they can now save high resolution photo of the shoppers and share them around.

@carlsbadguy I know they are making exceptions for hard-to-schedule locations and I think that would be one of them. You are a good fit for that location, so I don't think being a repeat shopper would be an issue there.

For what it's worth, after I spoke with management at Coyle they gave me the removed shop back, and I went last night. I can assure you they did know I was shopper. I was mainly upset about the shop being removed because I had a promised a friend dinner there for their birthday...so I was about to be stuck with a very large bill or having to cancel on my friend.
@LindaM wrote:

What makes you think they knew you were a shopper?

See edited post above...and thanks for pointing it out. They didn't suspect me because management visit almost every table BUT mine, and service was really average.
@Shop-et-al wrote:

Hmm. Some shoppers dream of some shops that Coyle has, and they work their way up to this level. It sounds like these shops are rare and practically precious! grinning smiley Or, they are being kept from the masses. Who would not want to try something like that and make it work?


@Niner wrote:

I saw locations I had visited get removed, and then have been assigned new to me locations.

So is this really once and done? That would rule out our local restaurants. Before, it seemed like the rule was yearly. I cannot imagine how they will get enough shoppers to write their complex reports.

There's a lot of irony in this since Coyle is looking for people who would visit these places anyway, so if someone was "dreaming" about going to these places, they would likely not represent a typical client, which is what they are looking for. We are going to a fancy place today, I can't describe going there as a "dream" though or that this will be a "rare and precision experience." I like writing, and if someone wants to pay for my meal, I will happily tell them about it. I also like the idea that my feedback will hopefully help the restaurant.

Who would not want to try it? Someone who does not have a lot of practice writing professionally. These are long and detailed reports. If you are used to writing, then it might not be a problem. If writing is something that is not part of your normal life, then you might not enjoy this. Also, if someone is not comfortable in this type of atmosphere, it will likely be obvious.
Read the forum. Some people are working their way up from fast food and fast casual shops. They want to end up at resorts, fine dining establishments, and the like. This is their goal, and they complete ever more expensive and complex assignments as preparation for what you routinely do for mystery shops. Don't count out people who are working on the details which now are second nature for you.

Please do not wonder about competition. Many lifetimes ago, I visited some fine places as an actual customer. Having done that, I am now free of curiosity about that way of life and have no need to be in some place where it may be important for one to be seen. I am happy in my casual life and will never compete for a place in your fancy way of life.

.. September is dressing herself in showy dahlias and splendid marigolds and starry zinnias. October, the extravagant sister, has ordered an immense amount of the most gorgeous forest tapestry for her grand reception. - Oliver Wendell Holmes
@SteveSoCal wrote:

It's my understanding that they review the video to discredit unfavorable shopper reports. With the advent of high-resolution cameras in almost all retail places, they can now save high resolution photo of the shoppers share them around)

This is a cause for concern. ‘Unfavorable’ reports should be more enlightening than reports which say everything is’just fine’.
@eyelove2shop wrote:

One of my favorite places to visit. The restaurants are located in 4 states.

East coast or West coast?
@Niner wrote:

Also, if someone is not comfortable in this type of atmosphere, it will likely be obvious.

100% true. Shoppers are easily spotted because of this.
I feel that if a shopper is being banned for life from a location for doing a GOOD job, then Coyle should really only implrement this rule if shoppers get made by managers at a location, because those of us who are competent and comfortable in this environment shouldn't be punished.

For the record... I give this policy about a year in and of itself. After enough time passes Coyle will see they don't have enough shoppers in busy markets like New York and start to relax this policy.

EDIT: Of course, now that I write this I remember that Coyle added to their boilerplate about a year or two ago that if a manager doesn't visit our table we now have to ask to speak to them, which means that even if we do a good job managers @#$%& know who we are which is half of the reason we get picked out at shops so often now.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/16/2019 04:09AM by Misanthrope.
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