Mystery shopping has been around for many years, since the 1940’s in fact. It was originally used to assess the integrity of employees. As mystery shopping evolved, it has become more common to use it as a tool to compare the services of one company to another. In the property management industry, we use it to define our point of difference from our competitors and endorse it internally into our policy and procedures.
I work a lot with businesses that understand what a ‘point of difference’ is however don’t fully understand how to articulate this to both their team and their clients. I will dive further into why a point of difference is so important for your business in another post, but in short. Your point of difference will define your culture, promote your internal systems, show value to your clients and promote advocates for your business. Let’s look at the process of mystery shopping your competitor and what to do with that information.
The concept of mystery shopping is to provide you with a better understand on how your competitors are doing business, and what value they are betraying to their clients. The process is also to benchmark your business against theirs, so as part of the process, you would mystery shop your own business also.
Create your mystery shopping template. This would be a list of questions and prompts that is going to guide you through the mystery shopping call. The mystery shop should consist of three key components;
Research: Do some initial research about your competitors. Check out their Google review rating, see how engaging both their website and facebook pages are. Do they have content that a prospective landlord would be looking for if they were seeking answers to property investment and management questions? Check the quality of their online marketing. Do they have professional photos and well written descriptions?
Phone call: Before you make the call, you need to find a property online that is inconspicuous. In many cases the person you are phoning maybe looking it up as you are speaking to them, so find one that you can tie a story too. When you make the call, you want to assess how professional the call is and who helped you. Was it a new business person or a property manager? Could they answer all your questions with confidence? Could they articulate and support their point of difference? Did they take your details and commit to a follow up call or meeting?
Follow up: Once you have made the call, I would anticipate that would receive a proposal within 24 hours of the call, and that they would also follow you up by phone. How was the proposal? Was it personalized and addressed all the concerns you raised in the call, or was it a generic PDF?
Conduct the mystery shop on 2-3 competitors and also on your own business. Document the results and present your findings at the next team meeting. Use them as a training tool to define your own point of difference and build systems and procedures to support this point of difference to your clients. Having a sound understanding of what your competitors are doing allows you to define your own point of difference to your competitors with confidence. A sure way to secure new business and retain existing business.