The Mystery Shopper That Never Was

The Mystery Shopper That Never Was Angela Brown Savvy Cleaner
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Have you heard the story of the mystery shopper that never was? What if there was an easy trick to improve performance and company morale?

Have you heard the story of the mystery shopper that never was? What if there was an easy trick to improve performance and company morale?

If you’re tired of callbacks or wasted money and wasted time, this trick can turn your company around.

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Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.

The Mystery Shopper That Never Was

The Mystery Shopper, Man Cleaning and ThinkingDid I tell you about the mystery shopper that never was? It’s an interesting tale. I’m going to share it with you today. So, I run a cleaning company where we train house cleaners and maids on how to start and grow their own cleaning companies. And we had a cleaning company that had a lot of problems.

We couldn’t pinpoint where the problems were coming from, and if it was the training, the techniques, the products, or the employees. So, we kept getting a lot of callbacks.

And the customers would call, and they were not happy. And then the owners would have to get in the car and they would have to drive over on their own time, and they’re not repaying their employees because they’ve already been paid for the house they’re not earning any more money to go back and do a reclean. So, they’re going back in there doing the cleaning, after cleaning, after cleaning, like what is going on here?

We Decided to Have a Mystery Shopper Come in

The Mystery Shopper, Team MeetingSo, what we did is we decided that we would have a mystery shopper that would come in and monitor the progress of the business and find out where the holes were. So, there was a meeting, and all of the employees were called together, and there were about 22 employees in this huge company. 

There was a great big meeting, and they announced that prizes would be given out to the person that got the fewest amount of callbacks. If you get no callbacks, there are prizes and there’s money for you. And so, the house cleaners were super excited.

They said, “Now, there are mystery shoppers that are going to be giving us feedback. And they’re going to be giving us feedback on the uniforms that you wear. Do you look professional when you show up to the job? Do you have the cleaning caddy that you’re supposed to have with you? Does it have the cleaning supplies in it that you’re supposed to have?”

It Makes Your Employees Up Their Game

The Mystery Shopper, Shocked Woman, Oh No I Got a CallbackAnd all the employees are like, “Whoa, we better up our game.”  “And then when you get to the customer’s house they’re going to watch and see, is there cross-contamination? Did you do the job properly? And are you using the right equipment for the right job? And there’s going to be a test.

They’re going to be seeing if when you leave, they’ll do their own flashlight test and they’ll check if everything got cleaned as you promised?” And so, all of a sudden, all the house cleaners were like, “Ugh, we better pay attention in a better way.

But they didn’t know who the mystery shoppers were, and they didn’t know where they were coming from. And so, all of a sudden, all the house cleaners started thinking to themselves, “Well, I wonder if they’re on my job. I wonder if today I have the mystery shopper.”

Our Cleaners Wanted to Look Their Best

The Mystery Shopper, House Cleaner with SuppliesAnd so, they would go to that job, and they looked their best and their clothes were pressed.  They had the right cleaning equipment, done the walkthrough of their equipment and their inventory, they’d filled up all of their bottles, and all of their bottles had labels according to OSHA standard.  Also, they had all of the different mop heads and things that they needed so there would be no cross-contamination.

Everyone started paying attention because they might have the mystery shopper of the day. And they were told on one particular day there would be five mystery shoppers. So, of the 22 houses that were being cleaned the first thing in the morning, what they didn’t know is which of those were one of the five.

So, everyone was on their best behavior and the most amazing thing happened. When the house cleaners came back to report at the end of the day, every one of them had a sense of pride.

Mystery Shoppers Put Employees on High Alert

The Mystery Shopper, Man with Gift Voucher, I Love My JobThey were like, “I did my best work today. I’m sure that I had the mystery shopper, and I’m sure I’m going to get a great review.” Well, the next day there were more mystery shoppers, but the next day there were seven. And so, all of a sudden, the house cleaners again were on high alert and everybody went into action mode.

And they made sure that they did everything according to the T, they crossed off the checklist. They did their inspections. They brought their equipment back to home base at the end of the day. And were told that the mystery shoppers would be watching until they left to go home for the night.

So even when they brought everything back to home-base, their cars were clean, and they didn’t leave any clothes or any mop heads in their car.

They Do Everything They Were Supposed to

The Mystery Shopper, House Cleaner with Supplies and VanThey brought everything in. And they did everything exactly as they were supposed to. Well, the next day, lo and behold, they were told there were 13, 13 mystery shoppers that were going to be attending to that day. And then everybody went on high alert, and suddenly they started realizing this might go on for a while.

“They’re going to have to follow this kind of protocol day after day after day and check on the house cleaning company.” Well, what happened was the company completely turned around. Everyone, because they thought they were going to get the mystery shopper of the day they turned their behavior around. And what was interesting, was there were no callbacks.

There were no callbacks in one week. And the prior week they’d had like 43 callbacks. And so, they were thinking about going out of business because they could not figure out, why do we have such a crappy business?

Mystery Shoppers Help Eliminate Callbacks

The Mystery Shopper, Angry Woman on PhoneBut then the next week there were no callbacks at all. So, they continued the mystery shoppers and then, lo and behold, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, five weeks, no callbacks. And then one week there was one callback. And so, somebody didn’t get a prize that week, and the prize was significant.

Well, here’s the thing. When you don’t have all the callbacks and all the wasted money and wasted time, you can take the resources and put a little bit into a pot and then split it up equally among the house cleaners that are there. It’s called pay for performance.

And so, what happened is, all the house cleaners started doing a better job and started rising their level of experience, their expectations, and their specialties with their customers so that they would get great ratings and reviews.  So that they would not get callbacks, and therefore get the bonus money.

Mystery Shoppers Help Company Morale

The Mystery Shopper, House Cleaning TeamBut along with that, the company morale went up. Instead of getting callbacks and getting nagged, hounded and, written up by the managers and the owners, who would have been disappointed and frustrated. All of a sudden, they were getting money, prizes, gifts and there was happiness, and it changed the entire culture of that company.

Now I say the mystery shopper that never was. Here’s the sad part of the story. The sad part of the story there never was a mystery shopper. The customers were mystery shoppers.

And it’s really easy to think, “Well, I could hire this outside company and it’s going to give me all the details.” But the reality is, you don’t have to hire anyone at all. Truth be known, the customers will pay you for the privilege of being your mystery shopper.

Customers Can Give Feedback

The Mystery Shopper, Happy Couple on CouchThat makes no sense. Check it out. So, what happens is, a customer hires you for a service. The service is house cleaning. And when they give you feedback, they are in essence a mystery shopper. They’re giving you the feedback that you would pay someone else to give you to make you better.

And as humans we don’t like people to pick on us. We get our feelings hurt when someone tells us the truth. And so, what happens is, we tend to block that out like, “Oh, we’re not a good fit. You’re not a good person for my business because you told me the truth.”

Well, the reality is, they are a mystery shopper, and they are paying you for the privilege to do that. So, if they give you feedback and you’re like, “Whoa, wait a second. We could change that. We can make that better. Let’s do that.”

Employees Will Upgrade Their Level of Work

The Mystery Shopper, House Cleaner VacuumingBut everyone went on high alert upgrading their level of performance because they thought there was a mystery shopper. Just reframing that in their minds changed their entire business,  entire company culture, and their entire company morale.

Why am I sharing this story with you? Because in your business there are also mystery shoppers. You have not paid for them. They are paying you.

And I want you to change the way you feel about the high-maintenance customers that you have. They are your best mystery shoppers.

000 Savvy Cleaner Spacer Bar 2020Resources

These good karma links connect you to and affiliated sites that offer products or services that relate to today’s show. 

365 Ways to Motivate and Reward Your Employees Every Day: With Little or No Money –

Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT –

Managing to Have Fun: How Fun at Work Can Motivate Your Employees, Inspire Your Coworkers, and Boost Your Bottom Line –

Engaging the Hearts and Minds of All Your Employees: How to Ignite Passionate Performance for Better Business Results –

It’s the Manager –

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