Mystery Shopping FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I do mystery shopping?

We recommend a full round of mystery shops per location three times a year. This rhythm gives wineries enough time to review the results, implement changes, and measure again. You can also do more during high/peak season or set up a rhythm that works best for your team, budget, and goals.

How long does the program take?

Generally, the start to finish of a mystery shopping program can be done within 3 weeks, but will depend on the number of shops requested, complexity of the shops, and the season. If specific people, days, etc. are being shopped, there are multiple locations, or experiences have a long reservation wait, results can be delayed. During high season, the program can take up to 6 weeks to complete.

How many shops should I do?

It is best is to get several data points within a short period – e.g., six shops on different days/times over a few weeks – in one round of mystery shopping. It is directionally interesting, not statistically significant unless you are doing hundreds of shops; however, more data points help reveal trends. We recommend doing 4 to 6 shops per round and no less than 2 or 3 per experience, club, or department (for phone shops).

How much does it cost?

It depends on the number of shops and locations, but generally is about $1,100. Out-of-pocket tasting (or tour & tasting) fees for two & wine purchases (if requested) will be reimbursed at cost.

Fees are as follows: $250 program fee plus $250 per property, per program, plus the shops:

  • Standard in-person tasting-room shop ($150 per)
  • Tour & Tasting shop ($200 per)
  • Phone shop ($75 per)
  • Wine club ($150 per)
  • Event ($150 per)

How do I use the information from the program?

The results from the program will include not only all the details from multiple questions from each of the shoppers, but also a WISE Heat Map showing trends as well as a summary report that includes highlights and recommendations. Use the information as a coaching tool, not as punishment. Based on your knowledge of your challenges and your team, pick 3 areas of opportunity to work on at a time. Implement changes and then do another round of mystery shopping to measure effectiveness.

What questions are asked? Can I add questions?

There is a standard baseline of questions that each shopper answers based on the type of shop. Our most complex survey for the tasting room has over 80 questions, 100+ for tour and tastings. We encourage wineries to add additional, relevant questions (at no additional fee) to ensure the program is giving back the feedback most needed.

What kind of ‘special requests’ can I ask for feedback on?

Mystery shopping is a program that is meant as a tool for coaching your team, so if there is something specific you want feedback on, we’ll do our best to accommodate. Some of these requests have included specific days/time of day/staff shopped.

How is the feedback given?

Shoppers based the answers to the survey questions on best practices and standards as set from WISE professional courses. Questions range from binary (Yes or No) to a 1 – 5 range: 1 = Poor, 2 = Fair, 3 = Good, 4 = Very Good, and 5 = Excellent. All the results of the feedback are given to the winery – the detailed reports (all the questions asked with responses and comments) per shopper, a summary report of the highlights, and a WISE Heat Map to show trends.

Do I need to budget for wine purchases?

It’s recommended but not necessary to allow for shoppers to purchase wine up to a budgeted amount. Wineries should set a budget if they want feedback on the sales process – any issues functionally with checkout? Any training issues with staff at checkout? Are staff up-selling? Are they mentioning promotions when/if applicable? Etc. Note – shoppers are ONLY allowed to purchase wine (if budgeted and pre-approved by the winery) if the host actually asks for the sale.

Do I need to have shoppers sign up for the wine club?

Club sign ups are not necessary, but if you want to give (compensation) credit to your team for effectively presenting the wine club, we can have shoppers sign up if well done and then let you cancel it on the back end. We can also work with a winery to give feedback on the experience of wine club from sign up to shipment delivery.

Who are the shoppers?

Our tasting room mystery shoppers are unbiased third-party, industry professionals who understand WISE standards regarding guest experience, sales skills and industry best practices. They are all WISE Certified Tasting Room Professionals (WISE #111).

Should I tell my staff they’re being shopped?

You shouldn’t tell them exactly when they are being shopped, but you can tell them that it will be happening. To get buy-in and lower defensiveness of the team, have the team go out and do mystery shopping themselves at wineries they are not known. WISE can provide the form – but make sure you debrief with your team on lessons learned. It’s a great way to help keep standards top of mind.

Do I share the results of the program with my team? If so, how?

You know your team better than anyone, so share with them if you think they’ll take as a coaching tool and not as punishment. The best way to share the information is to show the ‘WISE Heat Map’ to illustrate how the team as a whole is doing. Work with the team on 3 areas of opportunity you want to focus on, but don’t forget to celebrate the successes and strengths. For individual coaching, only show the team member their own results and again, celebrate successes and focus on only 3 areas of opportunity.

Can I get feedback from mystery shopping on all my DTC channels?

Yes. Depending on what kind of feedback you are looking for, WISE provides mystery shopping across multiple DTC channels. Questions for shoppers are built specifically to give you the feedback you need to raise the bar across these DTC channels:

  • Tasting room – get detailed feedback on multiple types experiences: standard bar, tour & tasting, seated, food pairings, etc.
  • Phone – wine club, reservations, sales, etc. whatever the objective, WISE will give you feedback on phone etiquette, sales skills, hospitality, and overall effectiveness and guest satisfaction.
  • Wine club – from initial sign up in the tasting room, online or on the phone to receiving shipments, WISE will give you feedback on the customer service, best practices on communication, structure, packaging, collateral and more.
  • Events – whether it’s for loyalty or for profit, measure your events for best practices, recommendations on how to improve, or getting staff feedback, WISE can give you the insight you need.