Mystery shopping report writing tips to help you submit a more accurate and complete report.


1. Comments should always be objective, unless the shop instructions indicate otherwise.

Objective means that the comments are factual and provable. Opinions or assumptions about what occurs are subjective and should not be included in reports unless the client particularly asks you for opinions.

Some examples of objective vs. subjective comments are:

  • Subjective: Amanda was a terrible server and should be fired.
    Objective: Amanda did not smile at any time while serving us, and she did not check back on us at any time after we received our food. We had to ask other servers for assistance, as she was not attentive to our needs.

    Subjective: The restroom was filthy and absolutely disgusting.
    Objective: The restroom had paper towels and toilet paper on the floor, and there were stains in the toilets, some of which had not been flushed. The counters were littered with trash as well.

    Subjective: The Cheesecake was so delicious that we wanted to lick the plate.
    Objective: The Cheesecake was creamy and smooth, with a sweet flavor. It tasted delicious. Try to strive for objectivity at all times, giving our clients facts rather than personal impressions or feelings. This can sometimes be hard when describing food items, but remember that we are being asked to rate the food based on the restaurant&rsquos standards, not our personal standards or standards of other restaurants. Do not compare the food to that at another establishment unless you are specifically asked to do so.

2. Along the same lines as being objective, remember that our job is not to tell our clients how to change, or what to change.

Our job is to provide them with factual information that allows them to determine the best course of action to take. Tell them exactly where the problem was, rather than how you feel they should fix it.

Here are a few examples:

  • Incorrect: The tile needs to be regrouted.
    Correct: The tile grout was dirty and looked old.

    Incorrect: The servers need to be taught how to upsell alcoholic beverages.
    Correct: The servers did not upsell alcoholic beverages.

3. When writing a narrative that is somewhat lengthy, as with most Service comments for restaurant assignments, break the details up into multiple paragraphs instead of writing one long paragraph.

It makes the comments easier to read and helps with the flow of the narrative. To create a new paragraph on our Gateway reporting system, you can simply hit the “Enter” button twice at the end of a line. There is no need to indent new paragraphs. When in doubt, look at the format on the sample and use it as a guide.

4. If you receive a message that says “Oops!” when submitting your report at our website, this means that your report was not successfully submitted and will not be edited.
Any time you receive an “Oops” message, you must go back to the report and correct the errors indicated in order for us to receive the information. The report will not be submitted for editing until all “Oops” on the page have been corrected in some way. Please do not assume that we will find the report and update it for you. This is most often the cause for late reports, and reports submitted late often cannot be used.

Common Grammar & Spelling Errors


(not definately, defiantly definitly, etc.)

This is often confused with “desert.” To keep the two spellings straight, try to remember this rule about the number of s’s: A desert has sand, and a dessert is something sweet.

(not debree, debbi)

dining room
(not dinning)

caramel and caramelized
(not carmel and carmelized)

(please spell this out, rather than using OK)

filet vs. fillet
Use filet, with one l, for beef dishes. Use fillet, with two l’s, for fish dishes. This is one that is not caught by spell check, so it is easy to confuse.

within, without, throughout, cannot, restroom
all are one word, not two

Suppose vs. supposed
Here is an example of the correct usage:

  • Incorrect: Tom was suppose to bring us lemons, but he did not.
    Correct: Tom was supposed to bring us lemons, but he did not.


“The Shrimp was tasty.”
Unless you have only one shrimp, this is actually incorrect. The word “shrimp” is both singular and plural, so if you have a dish with multiple shrimp, like Shrimp Cocktail, the correct wording is, “The Shrimp were tasty.”

Passive Voice vs. Active Voice
This is a common error as well. When writing the comments, remember that our client is not looking for a report that is entirely about you. The comments should focus on the employees and what they did, rather than what you did.

This makes it clear who assisted you and helps our client determine whom to praise and who may need retraining. Example:

  • Incorrect: I walked into the restaurant and looked around to find an employee. I observed one at the podium and was immediately greeted. I was then taken to my table, where I was given a menu and then asked to enjoy my meal.
    Correct: When I walked in, Adrienne immediately greeted me from the podium. She led me to my table, then presented the menu and asked me to enjoy my meal.

Possessive vs. Plural
Remember that an apostrophe is only needed if you are making a word possessive. For example, if you talk about the server’s hair, or the bartender’s uniform, those require apostrophes. You are referring to the hair and the uniform belonging to the employees. Plural words do not need apostrophes.

Examples: tomatoes, plates, floors, etc.

For its/it’s, break down the word. If you can replace “it’s” with “it is,” then an apostrophe is needed. If not, do not use an apostrophe.

Direct Quotes
Please use direct quotes as sparingly as possible in your narratives. We do not need you to directly quote every word that each person speaks. However, if a direct quote is necessary, please use the proper punctuation. There should be a comma before the quotes, and the ending punctuation should also come before the quotes.


  • Incorrect: Mike asked “How are you”?
    Correct: Mike asked, “How are you?”

Use proper capitalization at all times.
Avoid submitting any information, either in your profile or your report, in ALL CAPS. Please properly capitalize all proper names, like employees’ names or the names of restaurants. The first word of every sentence should also be capitalized.

If completing a restaurant shop, capitalize the names of the food items ordered, both in the blanks where you list them and in the first sentence of the comments you write.


 “The Crab Cakes were hot and cooked well. There was plenty of crab, and the seasoning was tasty. The crab cakes were nicely presented.”

Spell out all numbers from one through ten.
Spell out all numbers from one through ten, including ten. For 11 and up, use the numerical version rather than spelling them out.

Always use the names of the employees in your comments.
Unless your shop instructions state otherwise, do not use “the server” or “the bartender” if you have that employee’s name. It should be as clear as possible who does what throughout the visit. However, be careful not to overuse names.

They do not need to be used in every sentence, as in:

  • Brandon greeted me in a friendly manner. Brandon asked how I was doing and if I wanted to be seated. Brandon led me to my table.

    Using pronouns is acceptable, as long as it is clear to whom you are referring.

    Brandon greeted me in a friendly manner. He asked how I was doing and if I wanted to be seated. He led me to my table.

Provide details in sequential order.
When writing your narratives, please do your best to provide the details in sequential order, so that our client can see everything in the order that it actually occurred. This helps them determine whether the flow of service was correct and whether the employees completed their tasks at the appropriate times during the meal. Please do not use exact times or make your narrative into a timeline. You do not have to record the exact time that every single thing occurs during the visit. Only record the times needed to answer the questions on the form.


  • Incorrect: Sean greeted us at 5:08 p.m. He took our drink orders at 5:09 p.m. and then served them at 5:11 p.m. At 5:12, Sean asked if we would like to order an appetizer.
    Correct: Sean promptly greeted us and took our drink orders right away. He served them quickly, then asked if we would like to order an appetizer.

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