Mystery shoppers are usually hired to measure the customer experience in a variety of service environments, but they may be asked to evaluate other critical elements of a business if they sign up for an integrity shop. Along with the usual benchmarks, such as cleanliness and customer service, they might be asked to ensure employees are following proper cash handling procedures, according to advice website Mystery Shoppers Manual.
A recent report by software company eConnect found employee theft at the point of sale accounts for $8.5 billion in food costs annually, and businesses usually lose $187,000 on average before they discover the fraud.
Not only is this a problem in restaurants, but the study found retail cashiers and bartenders were also frequent perpetrators when it comes to exception reporting. This means they are undercharging family, friends, co-workers or customers food and drinks or giving those items away for free. Bartenders who were caught stealing approximately $500 per day, the study found, while the number was $87 for cashiers.
Bars are one of the most common locations for integrity shops for this reason, Mystery Shoppers Manual explains. If shoppers accept one of these assignments, the site advises them to be on the lookout for:
- overpouring when serving drinks (that is, pouring larger drinks or putting more liquor into drinks)
- giving away free beverages to family, friends or regular customers
- improper cash handling
- not ringing sales into the point-of-sale terminal
- pocketing cash or putting money directly into the tip draw instead of the cash register
- leaving the cash drawer open
The source notes that some of these assignments must be fulfilled by qualified investigators. If providers do receive these assignments, they might be inclined to select a mystery shopper that has established a solid repertoire with the company. Workers who prove they're reliable and produce consistently good reports might be selected for a wider variety of shops that vary in complexity.
On integrity shops, shoppers may also be asked to note other elements of employees' behavior aside from cash handling procedures such as drinking on the job or professionalism when dealing with patrons. If shoppers are selected for these important and exciting tasks, they might receive reimbursement for any drinks or food they order on the site as well as a cash payment for completing the assignment.