Mystery shopper case study: Craigie’s Farm Deli and Café, Edinburgh

OWNER John Sinclair has employed a mystery shopper on a monthly basis for the past 18 months.

Alongside Craigie’s farm Deli and Café, the business also has ‘pick your own’ fruit and fruit supply enterprises, with up to 65 staff employed during peak season.

“Feedback from regular customers and friends visiting the farm had already broadly indicated improvements could be made in customer service. But the mystery shopper service offered the opportunity to become more focused on identifying and rectifying problem areas,” says John.

During the initial stages, a number of training sessions were arranged, and John also received advice on possible solutions.

“We had reports staff had been inattentive, and spent too much time talking to each other, rather than to the customers,” explains John. “This issue has now been ironed out through the right training.

“The mystery shopper is also useful for testing the level of staff knowledge about the products we sell. This is especially important for products like wine, as it doesn’t look good if employees are unable to answer customer questions.”

John admits that he or his wife (he won’t declare which) once came in for some criticism from the mystery shopper. He took the brave step of sharing this information with his staff. “The mystery shopper must have caught us on a bad day,” he stresses.

“Some of our staff were highly suspicious and resented the mystery shopper at first, but they have got used to it,” he says. “In fact, they seem to derive a lot of pleasure from of trying to identify the person.”


Farm shop facts

  • Based at West Craigie’s Farm, South Queensferry
  • Run by John Sinclair, his mother, Anne, wife, Kirsteen and two young children, Sophie and George
  • Farm deli and café opened in 2007
  • Deli serves cheeses, meats, salads and ready meals
  • Breakfast, tea and coffee and light meals served in the café
  • Nature trail for visitors
  • Pick your own soft fruit, also supplys fruit to Sainsbury’s and other retailers
  • Jams, marmalades and chutneys made on the premises

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