camera-1391325_1920_resized

[spacer height=”20px”]

I’m sure you all remember the first time you sat behind the wheel, started the engine, and took your first “steps” with the car… Either it was easy or hard to learn how to drive. Your father or an instructor was with you, it’s still probably one of the most exciting experiences in our youths. It simply feels great to make such a big thing move!

All of these first impressions are really important. Like in everything we learn in our entire life, bad experiences can ruin everything – so we have to be more careful with this. I’d like to share some ideas I made use of, some advice for those who haven’t got their licenses yet. :)

 

  1. Don’t think about money

Unfortunately this is going to be expensive whether you are a prodigy or not. Don’t choose the cheapest driving school unless you are completely sure they are really good at teaching. It’s better when you don’t have to make a decision based on money.

 

  1. The rules – take it seriously

Traffic and rules are about human lives. Our lives. So don’t be lazy, learn all of the rules thoroughly.

 

  1. The instructor

Basically your experience with the instructor will define your relationship with the driving experience itself. It’s like at school – when you really dislike a subject (e.g. math), it might happen because the teacher is bad, or you can’t get along with him/her. So choose your instructor carefully – it’s more important than getting the license sooner. And don’t be afraid to ask for a new instructor if things don’t work out.

 

  1. Patience

When you find your instructor, he/she will know what to do. Trust them! And more importantly: trust yourself. You will learn to drive eventually. Be patient, and listen to your instructor, they don’t teach unnecessary things. Don’t be afraid to ask: understanding is the key to life, and when it comes to driving in traffic, you need to know the ways of solving all sorts of situations.

And the most important thing: be relaxed! At last, driving is freedom, isn’t it? :)

[spacer height=”10px”]
car-key-791382_1920_resized

 

 


Author: Adrienne img_6491_resized

Adrienne is a guest blogger of BARE International. She is interested in many things: from playing music, riding horses, to reading ancient texts in their originally written languages. Basically she never gets bored.


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”9″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com

img_20160918_184217_edited

 

It all started in September. I arrived to this beautiful country when the weather was still nice. The air was rich with autumn scents – by the way it was the exact same feeling as it supposed to be according to my Hungarian standards. This means nice and warm sunshine during the day, colour changing leaves, crispy air in the mornings, and so on. It was beautiful, and just the way I like it. For the whole week.

img_20160916_134835_edited

On top of that, everybody was kind and nice, in the shops as well! What to say, I was impressed, how everybody spoke English, how everybody was able to be nice, friendly and professional at the same time. What to say, this treatment fulfilled my checklist for an outstanding customer service, absolutely:

  1. Smile from afar – I know: you, me, we are all only humans with our fluctuating moods and sometimes it is really hard to do our job with a smile on our faces. But it’s worth the effort. I have not one, but several shop assistants working in nearby stores who I started to like during the years. We shared smiles, then longer greetings, and after that our thoughts and dreams and we even started to share stories from our life.img_20160919_123908_1_edited
  2. Clean shop – oh, yes, there isn’t a worst thing when you enter the shop and it looks like a battlefield.
  3. Help me, I’m lost! – Without the shop assistant’s help I would never have found my non-allergic bread.
  4. Don’t make me think – well, this is just like the previous one. When I’m shopping, I’m more or less on autopilot, so it can be really problematic, if I start circling in the shop and not finding the desired products. In this case either I gave up or sought for help. Once I even asked a stranger – who, according to me, looked like an employee of the supermarket – where I could find my favourite chocolate. The poor victim looked so dumbfounded, I felt really terrible after it, because I judged him by his clothes. Lesson learned.
  5. Respect me – even if I’m a foreigner or worst, a tourist.
  6. Try to understand my needs – listen carefully, with the intent to understand the others is one of the greatest gifts ever.
  7. No hurry, let me breathe and take my time – give me space to feel comfortable while I’m deciding what I want to buy. I really liked that. But when I needed them, the staff was always nearby.
  8. Give me some extra tips – I’d love to hear about the latest discounts and the best offers – who wouldn’t?

Conclusion: if you want to lose customers, don’t follow the Dutch example.

 

img_20160917_150500_edited

 


[spacer height=”10px”]
Author: Anita @AnitaKocsis910

facebook_profile picture

Anita is an employee of Bare International. Besides her work, she loves doing yoga, dancing, running, travelling and reading – which is why she often wonders how would it be possible to fit one or two more hobbies into her schedule. Her love for the automotive industry came from the passion for innovations and technology. She has a master’s degree in International Economics and Business.
[spacer height=”10px”]


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”9″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com

 

frogs-1610562_1920

 

[spacer height=”10px”]

Now of course, we at BARE International -and everyone else who doesn’t work here – do not condone lying as a reliable (no pun intended) or virtuous way of living; indeed, you can get into very serious trouble, should you knowingly tell untruths (you can go to jail for lying in a court of law, for example). So lying is not okay… typically, but we’re all so good at it! Moreover, we begin doing it very early on, some researchers say as early as 6 months old.
[spacer height=”5px”]
The title itself might be somewhat misleading, if not an outright porky pie. But much in the same way this piece will illustrate, it is in no way harmful, and can be in fact beneficial to both parties (the writer and the reader). The kind of slight-of-hand I’m talking about is utilized by Mystery Shopping, an intriguing, interesting and ultimately fib-fueled world, in which lying helps everybody concerned.
[spacer height=”5px”]
As children we are all taught – and rightly so – that lying is unequivocally a ‘Bad Thing’, discouraged at all levels by any parent/teacher worth their salt. But here’s the kicker: sometimes it can actually be used for good, and I’m not talking about the little white lies that occur from day to day (”that was delicious!”), nor the big-time (”the moon landing was faked”) kind of lie, but rather a type of lying that can help improve the situations for all involved.
[spacer height=”5px”]
Don’t believe me? Then I’d say fair enough, considering the above paragraph’s content (and that it’s healthy to have a good dose of cynicism when it comes to reading things on the internet).
[spacer height=”5px”]
But please, allow me to convince you…
[spacer height=”10px”]
1 – NO ONE GETS HURT
[spacer height=”5px”]

To the uninitiated, Mystery Shopping might seem like some clandestine, covert black market; a situation where unsuspecting staff are duped by officious, clip board-wielding telltales clad in beige trenchcoats while wearing sunglasses. shutterstock_369099806-copy2That’s only partly true (they don’t really wield a clipboard, though the “I Spy” attire is optional); certainly, the employees of our clients are never mislead or tricked into something untoward, and aren’t in any danger of immediate negative repercussions. The closest it can come to, for example, is a project in which our Evaluators (a fancy word for Mystery Shopper) will appear overtly suspicious during a shop, asking odd questions and generally trying to set off alarm bells in the employee they’re auditing; such signaling might be picked up and acted upon, though even if it is missed, that’s important and useful data too.
[spacer height=”5px”]
But the key thing to remember is that it’s a completely safe situation – there’s never been an instance of someone losing their job due to a Mystery Shop, and there never will be. Our Evaluators pose as regular shoppers to aid the actual regular shoppers, and help sharpen the staff of whichever business they have chosen to evaluate.
[spacer height=”10px”]
2 – ALL-INCLUSIVE IMPROVEMENT
[spacer height=”5px”]

Of course, humans aren’t the only animals that lie: a few years ago Koko the Gorilla (celebrated for her 1,000+ sign language vocabulary) asked for a kitten to have as a pet, such is her affinity toward felines. Like many, Koko likes to take the credit for her good behavior and blames the bad on someone else. After ripping out a sink from the wall of her habitat, her humans asked what happened.
Koko signed, “The cat did it.”
[spacer height=”5px”]
Setting aside any ethical concerns, the truth is that when you do a spot of Mystery Shopping, therefore inherently not telling the whole truth, it is good for everybody: good for us (the company on whose behalf you’re Mystery Shopping ); good for the market (as it keeps the ecosystem strong); good for the store (provides useful analytics with which they can improve themselves and their staff); good for the customer (better quality staff & store means better quality shopping & service); and of course, good for you (you stand to make that bit extra at the end of an otherwise predictable month)!
[spacer height=”5px”]bare_flyer2_resized

 

 

Customer Experience Research is the name of the game – there’s a formula we use that is as follows: ECX = OE + EC + CS, which stands for Excellent Customer Experience = Operational Excellence + Employee Commitment + Customer Satisfaction. Instead of seeing lies in a single category of selfish and wrongheaded behavior, it’s possible to think critically of lying and to consider instances where it can be productive and healthy. As a first step, you can allow yourself to not feel guilty about what you’re talking about during your Mystery Shop: in fact, a great many of our Evaluators thoroughly enjoy the role-playing aspect of the visits, performing the scenarios confidently and coming up with added details to embellish their backstories. We all like to pretend to be someone else, especially if we’re permitted – and paid!
[spacer height=”5px”]
Speaking of which…
[spacer height=”10px”]
3 – YOU GET PAID FOR SERVICES RENDERED
[spacer height=”5px”]

Either in the form of a shop fee or as a reimbursement, you’ll be able to rack up considerable extra cash come the end of the month. That means you’re able to boost your income by doing a test drive for one of our automotive projects, while also picking up a pair of new shoes effectively gratis (as amount you paid can be remunerated). Fancy a stay in a hotel, on the house? Be my guest. There’s nothing quite like waltzing through the door and giving a false name at the reception; and who doesn’t like knowing they’ve got away with even the simplest bluff (most people are better at it that they’d probably like to think: in a 10 minute conversation with a stranger, we humans will tell an average of 3 lies, though the majority rarely even realize they’re doing it). In addition to the well-known bassline of Mystery Visits, there are several ways in which to make it work best suited your own routine; if you don’t feel like leaving the house there’s Mystery Calling & E-Mailing, used for checking customer service, response time and ease of use.
[spacer height=”5px”]
Okay, so the previous sentence might sound like it came off the back of one of our recruitment flyers (it didn’t), but the point I’m making is that you needn’t be Lance Armstrong to be one of our Mystery Evaluators. It’s a simple job, and can easily be done well. What’s more, you’ll never have to pay for the privilege of Mystery Shopping, and never should.
[spacer height=”10px”]
shutterstock_308710538-copy
[spacer height=”20px”]

BONUS 4th REASON! – THE MORE THE MERRIER
[spacer height=”5px”]
In short: we’ll pay you a bonus for every friend you recommend, and the cherry on top is that it won’t negatively affect you in any way at all – many of our projects have a mandatory “cool down” period between shops, so even if you wanted to perform visits week-in-week-out, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to. Introducing someone you know to us is the easiest way in which to keep a healthy cycle time ticking over, meaning that even when you’re unable to do a shop, your friend will be.
[spacer height=”5px”]

So, to conclude: there are times when not telling the truth is a good thing. Lying to help another person or their business is and should be perceived as good, while lying which has no effect – or actually harms others – is of course wrong. The thing to remember is that, done properly, Mystery Shopping reveals a bevy of benefits, by enticing businesses to up their game (perhaps if a rival seems to be pulling ahead), or even to practice new policies (if their previous form isn’t up to scratch), and that is a benefit to us all as customers. If the boss is evaluating an employee, they’re bound to be on their best behavior: a Mystery Shopper ensures a realistic evaluation based on how employees interact with real customers and not just their supervisors.
[spacer height=”5px”]
Apologies for such a clickbait-y title, though I suppose you could even consider it as something of a white lie: yes, I’ve slightly exploited your curiosity, but now both of us have benefited – with you learning a little bit about something you (presumably) didn’t really know much about before, and me getting to spread the word. You can’t say we don’t practice what we preach. I mean, would I lie to you?


Author: Richard

Richard is a real community builder, involved in various activities within the office, helps charities and has a degree in filmmaking and screenwriting. He’s a ”Creative”, interested in telling stories, making connections and helping generate ideas. An avid reader, he is passionate about gaming, food (don’t feed him after midnight) and history. He has plans for the future, and you -the one reading this sentence- are part of them.


Interested in becoming an Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”20″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Mystery Evaluator’s Community?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com

 

shutterstock_159407063

 

Gábor started working for BARE International in 2012 in the Budapest office. He is very much dedicated towards the automotive projects, so it is no wonder he is dealing with a lot of projects from this industry.

[spacer height=”15px”]
You work for a mystery shopping company – have you ever done any kind of mystery visits?

dsc01687_editedBefore coming to work for BARE, I used to be an official mystery shopper, and by the time I joined the team, I had already learnt a few things about the industry. Actually I had always been asking the colleagues if they had any open positions, because I was more than interested to working for BARE.
[spacer height=”15px”]
How about the automotive projects?

At that time, especially in Hungary there weren’t many automotive industry-related projects, but I could join in working on ones that were running in other countries. Since then, there have been a lot of changes in this region.
[spacer height=”15px”]
During your mystery shopping career did you encounter any kind of interesting or disturbing situations?

As an employee of BARE International, I keep telling our Evaluators to try to avoid mistakes like the ones I did during my first visit. I walked into a dealership. It was a simple walk-in visit, with no need to ask for an appointment in advance from the consultant. So I arrived at the place, and the sales consultant just said to me that he was sorry but I had to come back on another day because there was an exhibition he needed to leave for.
[spacer height=”15px”]
Could you finish the visit?

Yes I could, but the only question he asked me was: have you decided to buy the car or not? And I was facing with the very hard situation of not knowing what to do, because we had a 10 minutes’ conversation instead of an hour.
[spacer height=”15px”]
dsc01683_editedWhat do you think about mystery visits in general?

It can be a very good training for you to see how you can act in different situations. It is not about being an enemy of the sales assistant or the brand as a mystery evaluator; instead, you are helping with the brand with your insights in order to provide an even better customer service.

I enjoy being there to learn and help, and I also like the challenge that I need to pay attention to lots of things at the same time. Then it is again to improve my skills. I also get feedback on my mistakes in the report. And last but not least, you can earn money with mystery shopping. So, why not?

[spacer height=”15px”]
This is definitely a huge a benefit. Do  you have a favourite role you particularly enjoyed playing?

Well, I’m not telling this because I work with automotive projects, but of course, these kinds of visits are my favourites. Why? Because you don’t buy a new car every day. It is a good thing that you can just act as if you were going to buy a car or get a whole fleet for your business. Trying out brand new cars, driving them, and learning about newer and newer tech solutions is really exciting. Besides I really enjoy roleplaying, which can make you act more confidently. And the cherry on the top is to earn money while doing so. Actually, I just did one yesterday.
[spacer height=”15px”]
Oh, that’s why I couldn’t reach you! Nice! – Do you have any advice for our evaluators?

Yes, my first advice would be just to behave totally normally, there is no need to be stressed, you are in control; just be yourself. Act as if you wanted to buy the product or service. And of course the most important thing is to be truly familiar with the Guidelines, because without that, you will have no idea about the mission. It is not a good feeling if you for example need a proof of visit, but you just forgot to take a picture of the dealership on the spot and because of this, your report is not accepted. It is really frustrating, and I know the feeling.
[spacer height=”15px”]


[spacer height=”10px”]
Author: Anita @AnitaKocsis910

facebook_profile picture

Anita is an employee of Bare International. Besides her work, she loves doing yoga, dancing, running, travelling and reading – which is why she often wonders how would it be possible to fit one or two more hobbies into her schedule. Her love for the automotive industry came from the passion for innovations and technology. She has a master’s degree in International Economics and Business.
[spacer height=”10px”]


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”9″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com

shutterstock_461571385_edited

Why? – Why not! It’s fun.

This is a brief story of a BARE employee, who is a bit of a petrol head and wanted to do some visits himself.

For one, it’s interesting to go through the same procedures as our evaluators, having the same butterflies in the stomach when entering the dealership, and thinking – “Oh god, they must KNOW I’m a mystery evaluator!” And then discovering that everything is fine, and you are just being treated as an ordinary customer.

Of course a car is not something you buy for 1-2 years in an ideal case, so getting proper advice on the details (running costs, insurance, warranty, etc.) is of huge importance. But there is much to learn from these visits, if you are just planning to buy a new (or even used) car.

 

shutterstock_335320880_editedLesson no. 1: the price is far from fixed.

Lesson no. 2: prices are even more flexible than you might think – don’t hesitate to haggle a bit – you can find truly amazing bargains, whether new or demo vehicles are standing in the dealers’ courtyard.

Lesson no. 3: there are some hugely impressive guys working out there as sales consultants.

Lesson no.4: apart from all this, it’s a great opportunity to learn a lot about cars and technology.

Oh, and the smell of a brand new car, the soft voice of the engine during the test drive, while a consultant explains to you all the tech that’s inside, and what further equipment can be also implemented, is priceless. This is just the experience a real car-lover should have.

So, why not?

 

 


 

Author: Ákos

Ákos is a full-time employee of Bare International.Ákos_blogger_pic_edited
He works for the company for more than a year and is a member in the Social media team. He likes travelling, cars, and craft beers. He has a diploma in German Literature and a Master’s Degree in International Relations. Besides English and German, he is trying to master French and speaks Norwegian reasonably well.

 


Interested in becoming an Automotive Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”9″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Automotive community We Are Cars?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com

shutterstock_383295808_edited_antwerp

[spacer height=”10px”]
Let’s start with some touristic information:

Located in the valley of the Scheldt-river in the North of Belgium, the city of Antwerp is internationally renowned for a couple of pretty nice things: It carries the nickname ‘Diamond Capital of the World’, is home to the 2nd biggest port of Europe and to one of the most beautiful railway stations in the world, was the hometown of famous painters such as Sir Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens etc.

Surprisingly though, there has never been a tourist guide in the world who has mentioned that in Antwerp, you will also find the 2nd oldest Bare Associates International branch, preceded only by the home office in Fairfax, Virginia. At least… not until now: Antwerp office in 5 touristic bullet points!

 

antwerp-office-buiding

 

Vivid history

Truth be told, for a very long time, nothing worth mentioning happened in this building really. But that has changed recently, because in August 2012, after having worked elsewhere in the city for 15 years, the Bare employees could begin to call this building their workplace. Ever since that beautiful day of summer, so many things have happened: Hundreds of clients have visited the office, thousands of coffees have been drunk, millions of phone calls have been made, billions of emails have been sent and received, and so on.

Incredible location

The Antwerp office is located in a street called Meir, which is known as the biggest shopping street of the city. With current retail and luxury clients close-by and possible clients even closer, this location is ideal to host a mystery shopping company. It’s only natural that the employees use their lunchbreak to check out the local businesses from time to time, obviously just for the sake of the company.

Exquisite architecture

Lots of bricks, many windows, several floors and a big bird on top. Fancy!

Epicentre of culture

On any day of the week, you will be able to enjoy a harmonious musical composition, produced by cars, trams, horse carriages and drunk students on beer bikes. However, if you visit the city in the summertime, you might be in for an extra treat, brought to you by one of the many street performers: An opera singer who makes you believe that you have frontline tickets at the Scala of Milan; a pianist, a guitarist and a saxophone player who seem to come straight out of the Royal Albert Hall in London; or even a giant granny rolling by in her wheelchair, like it happened right in front of the office on the 19th of June 2015. True story!

 

Remarkable people

And similarly to many great buildings, this one as well has been given colour by the people working in it. It doesn’t matter who you are, if you are reading this, you will most likely know at least one person working in this office that you simply adore… or love… or like… or of which you can tolerate that (s)he communicates with you… hopefully…

Anyhow, a fact is that this building is a working home to people from many different nationalities (currently 13!), covering a total of more than 10 different languages. An office that is populated by people that accidentally eat the food of their colleagues, people that only realize at night in the pub that they have edited the report of a newcomer that day (“Oh yeah, I thought that name looked familiar!”), people that give Secret Santa gifts to colleagues for which those have no use whatsoever… And always with a smile on their faces!

In short: A cheerful bunch, in a cherished office, in a charming city. Cheers!
[spacer height=”10px”]

85cb996e37a8460d84d7d9a83e19035c604637abd8b5da3edapimgpsh_fullsize_distr_edited

[spacer height=”10px”]


 

Author: DavyDSCF4922_resized2

Davy is active in the BARE International office in Antwerp. He has a Master’s degree in Multilingual Communication, and can get himself understood properly in 5 languages. Professionally he’s mostly busy with cars and wireless speakers, topics he’s fond of in his private life as well – apart from other hobbies, such as travelling, cooking, cycling and football.

 


Interested in becoming an Evaluator with BARE International?

[maxbutton id=”20″]

Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Mystery Evaluator’s Community?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com