Reaping the Rewards of Using Mystery Shoppers in Quick Service Restaurants

Reaping the Rewards of Using Mystery Shoppers in Quick Service Restaurants

What is a Quick Service Restaurant?

Just as the name implies, a quick service restaurant (also known as a QSR) is a restaurant characterized by its fast amenities and minimal table service. To the majority, a QSR is called a fast food restaurant.

As the industry evolved, the potential for more options arose. Many restaurants have opened with a completely health-based product line, while some of the older establishments still maintain their traditional options while providing consumers with tons of new, unique options. And this provides a new way for these restaurants to bring in new patrons who may want only those different, perhaps healthier, options. A little indulgence in the more “comforting” choices here and there is perfectly fine, but it’s always nice to have options no matter which QSR you choose to eat at.

What is a Mystery Shopper?

To put it simply, mystery shopping is an externally sourced way of providing quality control for businesses. A mystery shopper (also known as a secret shopper or mystery consumer) is hired to perform specific tasks within a business to help it function properly. For instance, a shopper may be hired to buy products, ask specific questions, log any complaints, or behave in a certain way. Their experience is then logged with the entity that hired them, which is then passed along to the company themselves to help with any modifications that may need to be made within the business.

A mystery shopper’s identity is typically unknown to the employees working within the business they have been hired to shop at, so their experience within the operation can be completely organic and unhindered by their status as a mystery shopper being revealed. This provides them with everything they will need to get the experience that best allows them to do the shop effectively.

Who Uses Mystery Shoppers?

Any company that performs on a business to consumer platform can typically find benefit in using mystery shoppers. Every business has its room for growth, so secret shoppers aren’t always going to be utilized specifically when things are going wrong within a business. Even when a store has a top-notch performance rating, secret shoppers can still be utilized to pinpoint those areas that can still benefit from improvement.

Some of the most common types of businesses that utilize mystery shoppers are:

  • Bars
  • Grocery, liquor & convenience stores
  • Department & specialty stores
  • Rental companies
  • Residential & commercial leasing, renting & sales
  • Healthcare providers
  • Florists & gift stores
  • Banks & investment firms
  • Gyms & fitness centers
  • Hotels
  • Automotive sales & service
  • Parking garages
  • Hair salons
  • Restaurants

The last one being the most important to our list. The possibilities are seemingly endless with other types of businesses utilizing mystery shoppers as well.

Mystery Shoppers in the World of QSR’s

On the surface, it may seem like the utilization of mystery shoppers in QSR’s may be limited to the food itself. But this could not be further from the truth. Any restaurant a patron visits is all about the entire experience, from the moment a person walks through that door to the moment they leave. QSR’s are absolutely included in this sentiment.

Fast food restaurants are everywhere and known for the special convenience they provide. And the bigger the corporation, the more franchises there will be. Therefore, it creates a bigger market for utilizing secret shoppers as business experiences grow. There are more stores to oversee, more employees, more customers, more products, etc. Even the smaller-scale QSR’s of the world can greatly benefit from having customers secretly use their services to benefit the overall operation.

Online reviews can be helpful in a lot of ways, but mystery shoppers can provide even more actionable information by having a unique hands-on experience that requires them to take a look at very specific aspects of their QSR visit. Sometimes a requirement to submit pictures of the food, the restaurant itself or the bathroom’s condition will be required. Employee interactions are also important when a mystery shopper goes through their list of tasks. And although it may seem like secret shoppers are there to sniff out all the negatives, rest assured that all of the positives are being recorded as well. Clients want to know where they’re excelling within their business too.

Without a mystery shopping program, certain items may be overlooked such as whether a customer received their receipt. Or the lighting situation. Does the light setup provide the right ambiance that the restaurant is aiming for? From tablecloths to employee ID pins to decorative items within the restaurant, nothing gets overlooked when a mystery shopper is hired. Those specific, tedious items are important in a restaurant’s function and feel, so having people specifically check them is beneficial. That way nothing gets overlooked.

Some other items that a mystery shopper may be tasked with observing are listed below, but they are certainly not limited to only these items:

  • Attentiveness to welcoming guests
  • The aromas of food wafting from inside to outside
  • The time it takes for food to arrive
  • The food temperature
  • Staff knowledge in regard to products and services

The possibilities are endless when it comes to choosing exactly which items you want your mystery shoppers to focus on. It provides an opportunity to also stay ahead of the competition because the restaurant industry is just that. Competitive. So, who wouldn’t want to have a leg up on their competitors and have a business that consistently thrives?

Interested in learning more about how Premise can fulfill your mystery shopping needs? Visit us at or email We can’t wait to help you become more data-driven.