Yes, There Really Is a Free Lunch! Part II

How does a piping hot burger and side of crunchy, perfectly seasoned fries sound for lunch next week?  Or, dinner that you didn’t lift a finger, (or a pot or pan), to prepare?  Last week, we just scratched the surface to explore how to take advantage of mystery shopping where you can enjoy a free meal.  Many opportunities exist for you to enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner for free, plus a fee!

Lunch with FriendsWe talked about shopping fast food restaurants last week.  There are also opportunities to dine in comfort, and even enjoy your meal with a guest!

As you gain confidence, you may feel comfortable  enough to accept assignments that involve evaluating your experience at a “sit down” or even a “fine dining” restaurant.  Your assignment may be to sit in the bar, in the dining room, or both.  You will be asked to evaluate every aspect of your experience from the time you arrive to the time you leave the restaurant.  You may need to recount how were you greeted, or how long it took to be seated.  You may be asked for the names and a brief description of anyone involved in your service, so make note of name tags and other details about the employees.  You will be asked about several aspects of the timing and quality of service.  Make note of the time you are greeted, when you order, and when you receive your meal.  You will also be asked to evaluate the ambiance and cleanliness, and to note anything that is in a state of disrepair or out of the ordinary.  You most certainly will be responsible for evaluating your food.  Did you get what you ordered?  Was your hot food hot and your cold food cold?   Were your utensils and dishes free of fingerprints or spots?  Were you offered dessert?   The reports can be very detailed.  You are required to be on your toes astutely observing what is happening around you.  Most clients stipulate that you never take notes until you leave the restaurant but it is usually acceptable to act like you are texting if you need to record times or make quick notes.texting-image

You may be allowed to bring one guest with you!  You should explain to your guest that you are responsible for evaluating many different aspects of your experience.  This may affect your ability to fully engage in conversation without distractions.  If they are comfortable with that, and you think you can divide your attention between your guest and your shop, then enjoy your meal and treat a friend too! 

Keep in mind you are not trying to catch anyone doing something wrong.  You are obligated to report anything that isn’t right just as you are expected to report what the employee did well. Try to balance any negative comments by also pointing out something that the employee excelled at. What you say is taken very seriously and sometimes jobs are at stake. Don’t look for something to go wrong, but do report it if a problem should arise. Never complain during the shop or do anything to draw attention to your table.  Save your feedback for the report and always remain objective.

You should be prepared to pay for your meal up front and be reimbursed within 30-45 days.  You may find that the shop budget doesn’t cover everything and you might have to pay part of the bill out of pocket.  You can usually visit the restaurant’s website to review the menu ahead of time.  Doing so will help you to prepare ordering within the budgetary constraints of the shop. 

Now you know some of the secrets to successful restaurant shops.  They can be a lot of fun and very rewarding!  Yes, there is such a thing as a free lunch.  There’s a free breakfast and a free dinner, too!  Culinary delights await those who dare to be prepared, attentive, and especially those who are hungry!

Sandra S.