Insights From Implementing Secret Shoppers

Since customer feedback can be generally positive when approached ​by a staff member, getting to know the intricacies of how your taproom is working can be a challenge. By having “secret shoppers,” as an owner or manager, you can get an insight into what is going on without your supervision.

“As owners, we aren’t always seeing our staff all the time,” said Hop & Sting brewer and co-owner Brian Burton. “When we are around, the staff is likely to be on their best behavior.”

Burton had some friends with bar or restaurant experience visit the taproom recently to gauge how the staff functioned.

​”​We want to be sure that our staff is attentive and friendly to customers​,” he pointed out​.​ “Are they standing around talking to each other or friends? Or are they using their time to engage customers, clean glasses, buss tables, etcetera?​”​

​Sometimes the Secret Shopper route may not work. Nick Beard at Cheboygan Brewing said since the brewery is in a small community, so if something isn’t right, the brewery will often hear about it and respond appropriately.

​That feedback is important, regardless of how it’s achieved.​ Online reviews can be an important gauge for where a brewery stands and how people perceive the company. Beard said Cheboygan gets a lot of five-star reviews which, to him, affirms the brewery is doing things right and giving fans the experience the brewery team wants, but there is always room for improvement.

​”​We do discuss feedback monthly at our meetings that come directly from the taproom, the sales team, and online reviews,” Beard said. “We want to provide a great atmosphere and overall experience to go along with our great beer.”

​Since Cheboygan, Michigan is a seasonal town, it can be challenging to meet some of the needs in the summertime and make it sustainable in the winter, he added.

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