By Steven Cooley, Customer Impact Editor

A common question we receive when scheduling mystery shops is why the shop has a certain date on which it cannot be performed.  These dates vary from client to client, and depend on the type of business and their location.  They can include dates like Valentine’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, the date of the Super Bowl, and even certain days of the week.  So why all the blocked out dates?

The answer is found when you know what it is that the client is looking for with their mystery shopping data.  They’ve hired us to evaluate their service, which we do by sending independent contractors to their locations.  But what information are they hoping to find?  Almost always, the client is looking for a snapshot of the experience a typical customer would receive on a typical day.


The reason shoppers are often blocked from going on a particular date is because the service they would receive that day would not be typical.  If you go to a fine dining restaurant on Valentine’s Day, you can be sure that the restaurant is going to be quite a bit busier than normal.  The same might go for a Mexican restaurant on Cinco de Mayo, or a sports bar on Super Bowl Sunday.  A lot of the time, restaurants have special menus or offers that are available on those dates, which means the customer’s experience will be very different from someone that visits that same location on a non-holiday.

If the client is looking to improve the average customer’s experience in their business, the information they would receive from a shop that was performed on a blocked-out date, like a holiday, is not very useful.  This is actually the reason for several limitations of mystery shops, including the number of people you bring along with you , the items of food you order, and where you sit inside the restaurant.  If the client is trying to get information regarding the quality of service a party of two receives in the dining area, a mystery shop where there were six guests who sat on the patio would not give them much information!

Next time you find yourself wondering why you can’t perform your shop on a certain date, you’ll have a good guess as to the reason why! And if you are not sure, please ask your scheduler! They will be glad to share the reason with you!