Tag Archive for: Bare International

‘Shoppers will go into the holiday season with high expectations this year. They’ll want great deals, custom offers, on-time delivery, and a little something for themselves—no matter what channel they’re using to work through their gift list.’ BARE shares an article by Danielle Savin for Digital Commerce 360 on 6 Steps to Elevate the Customer Experience this Holiday Season.

Read more

[spacer height=”20px”]

Someone once said, “Study the past if you would define the future”, (that would be Confucius) and it was one such sentiment that spurred me on to do this particular blog post.
A short while ago I sat down to chat with President and Co-Founder Mike Bare, about BARE International’s past, present and future…
[spacer height=”20px”]

Richard: I’d like to begin by asking about where the idea for the company came from, and how you managed to forge it into a national (then global) business.

Mike Bare: Coming from fifteen years of being in the restaurant business it was a natural extension, since I personally have a zero tolerance of inefficiency occurring in any business environment (or personally), so it was a matter of how can we recreate the wheel. The company I worked for were probably one of the most significant innovators of full service restaurant mystery shopping in the early 80’s, and as a regional director for this chain we were always scoring 100%. The reason we always scored 100% is because we always knew who our evaluators were! So when I called corporate office one day to ask if they could change our evaluators, they told me that, #1 I always got 100% scores, why did I care? And #2 that it was none of my business, that they had the programme under control and how dare I. So I took to heart their comment that it was none of my business and created my own.

From there, how did you expand it to a national as opposed to a regional business?

MB: With ten dollars for some business cards and a used IBM Selectric typewriter that my wife had, who happened to be pregnant at the time, in the basement of our house we typed out and printed some forms. As I was very active in the restaurant industry in the Washington DC market (a significant market for hospitality restaurants), I spoke to the association about the opportunity to conduct customer research in a way that would really objectively document the customer’s service experience, and because I had the respect of my peers in the industry, many gave us the opportunity to do that. We signed our first client, a small local restaurant that thirty years later is still a valued client, and shortly after began to do business with many more. Through these association meetings and word of mouth (as there was no social media at the time) people began to speak of the value of the information we provided: while we had projected maybe within five years we would be in ten different states, within our first eighteen months of business we were nationwide.

As the business grew, did you see imitators or competitors grow around you?

MB: Well we were one of the first companies in this space; as I travelled the country (in the US), I began to stop and visit some of our competitors, some of whom would talk to me and invite me into their offices, and others who wouldn’t care to respond to my calls. We began to understand that there was a significant base of companies that were growing in our industry. Simultaneously ESOMAR, the largest market research society in the world, had guidelines very specific to the fact that mystery customer research was of limited value, that it was not a credible way of information gathering, and many other archaic perspectives (this was an organisation dating back to 1949).
So they weren’t a fan; myself and another gentleman went to their corporate offices in 1997 to try to explain the validity of our industry, to say that there was a significant growing evolution as it related to the nature of mystery customer research (mystery shopping as it was called back then). Basically they invited us out the door, so we left and decided to start our own association. In 1998 we had our first meeting in Florida, when over 70 companies came and we all collectively agreed that there was great value in establishing an association for our industry to credentialize it. So we did, and it’s grown to over 150 members in the United States today, Europe has over 200 member companies, and Asia-Pacific has about 50 members.

So competition becomes cooperation?

MB: Right, I like to think of it as forward-thinking. There are competitors who incorporate different aspects of the base services of mystery shopping into consulting, into training and many other avenues, so each has its own particular nuance. Some companies just for the medical areas, others do it for banking, others do it only for automotive, so there are ”specialist” companies, and then there are general companies – BARE’s the largest privately held company in the world in terms of doing this.

You mentioned the IBM Selectric typewriter – how important is technology to BARE International, and in terms of innovation where do you see the next 30 years?

MB: The reality was that the progress of the reports coming in every day was a slow process: we would send the forms by mail to people that we spoke with and then we would wait …wait… wait for the forms to come back to us (it was always the most exciting part of the day to go to the post office box and see what reports had actually arrived versus those that were lost in the mail). Next came the fax machine with the little rolls of paper that you would pay the Earth for, and then obviously with the advent of the internet things began to progress much more speedily and much more efficiently. These days the next incarnation of what we’re about is mobile technology which allows people, with simpler questions and simpler reports (5 to 10 questions), to be able to generate the results instantaneously to the client. Without a doubt technology has broadened the scope of our client base too; instead of needing to travel and perform on-site or in-store, they can send emails and complete assignments from the comfort of their own home (much like the advent of online shopping). As for what the next incarnation of that is, a virtual reality of our experience or exposure – I couldn’t say.



Four years ago the Budapest office grew from the 40m2 room with a total of five employees to the eight-storey building we’re sitting in now. When I joined it was very much “Welcome to the BARE Family” – how do you balance being a growing global business with the close-knit culture that is felt here?

MB: We’re only as good as our people: by getting our employees involved in understanding what we do and how we do it, and not just being told to perform tasks. It’s difficult to keep our fingers on the pulses as we once did personally, but by respecting their contribution to our business as we grow, through having a low hierarchical structure (in terms of not having fifteen people between me and the people that make a difference), and by the good fortune of having the next generation involvement through our son Jason {Global Business Development Manager} in the business, it allows us to continue to evolve what we do on an ongoing basis.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

MB: (laughs) The wisdom of Solomon; in decision making, that there needs to be, as I alluded to, other people involved in the decisions. When you’re a young entrepreneur, in terms of making things happen you have burden of everything on your shoulders, but as your business grows, involving and respecting the input from others. Certainly those that you want around you should always be smarter than you so that they can contribute and help your business evolve. We have a very entrepreneurial environment and, you know, we desire creative input from everybody- we have a mantra within our business: “What we did yesterday we shouldn’t be doing today, and won’t be doing tomorrow”. What that communicates is that change is the only constant, so whether it be through the people, whether or through the processes, or through our client base, we’re always excited about what we can do differently for the future.

You’re in Budapest now, with the next stops being India then China – for anyone thinking of becoming an evaluator for BARE International, what would you say to them having spent so much time in this industry?

MB: Well the first thing I would say would be our web address (www.bareinternational.com); the second thing I would say is that it’s not a matter of making a lot of money in terms of doing this, but it’s a matter of a heartfelt desire to help make a difference. It’s really easy to complain: it’s much more significant to objectively contribute in such a way that the opinions and the way things are phrased will be respected and appreciated in terms of evolving a business environment.


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


Diseño sin título

If someone asked you to remember the moment you got “hooked” by something that you are passionate about, would you be able to pinpoint it? I can! It was 1994 and I remember watching the Formula 1 Grand Prix with my family. I’m not sure whether it was the fact that I really felt happy watching it with my loved ones or the fact that I found this world so exciting. Whatever it was, I knew that I wanted to know more. From that moment on, this became my passion. Why?

The search for perfection

Diseño sin título (1)In the world of Formula 1 there is a strong aim for perfection. From the way all parts of an engine need to work perfectly as designed, to the pit crew working in perfect harmony, to the driver’s perfect performance. Every person involved and every little component must work on such a high level of cooperation and alignment. In this world the saying: “Each team is just as strong as its weakest link” really is a fact. This fascinates me every time!

My Schumacher inspiration

Formula 1 is considered the world’s most demanding race. Both physical fitness and mental strength are mandatory and each “weakness” can be catastrophic on the track. From 1994, racing driver Michael Schumacher was in the spotlight for 3 years. He became my source of inspiration and my idol growing up. After having read his biography some years ago I got even more inspired. The drive, the passion and devotion he showed towards his profession was exemplary. I’ve taken over these values except his love of adrenaline… one step too far for me.

How this passion defined me

Formula 1 still plays an important role in my life and I can easily say that this has really defined my professional life as well. I’m passionate about my work and have a high sense of quality that some of my colleagues can describe as perfectionism. These factors are important to me in my engagement towards an employer. Here at BARE International, a company that I call my professional home for over 5 years now, we are also working towards determining the weakest link for our clients. They will then be able to eliminate or improve them in order to gain success in their fields. Because like Formula 1, I believe that excellence is not something occasional but continuous.


This story was written by Wara inspired by Thomas’ thoughts.


Author: Wara 20150625_172744_resized

Wara joined BARE International almost 7 years ago. Born in Thailand and moved to Belgium as a child, she knows how it feels to be “stuck” between cultures. Thanks to her optimistic mindset, she always tries to see a positive outcomes in everything. Her goal in life is to be happy, to live by example in order to inspire people around her… especially her son.

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

for boosting - Copy

Many of us already had the experience of going out the door to do “some” shopping but ending up with half of the bank account empty. But did you now that some people are actually paid by a company to go shopping? In that case, they all of a sudden get the label of “Mystery Evaluator”. Of course there is more to it. These shoppers then become secret agents of what is called “Mystery Customer Research”. 

Now, what exactly is this taboo called Mystery Customer Research? Mystery Customer Research is a simple act of shopping where everyday people with an eye for detail go shopping, go to a restaurant or take an airplane, while they actually get paid to do this! These “undercover shopaholics” then fill in a questionnaire evaluating the service they had been given. This way they help companies obtain valuable information concerning their own services, enabling them to improve customer satisfaction, and consequently increasing profits.


So what does Mystery Shopping exactly look like?

shutterstock_97220222_resizedTom Johnsson goes to a fast-food chain. On his way over, he pays attention to whether there are street signs guiding him to the restaurant he is looking for. Once he gets there:

  • He checks whether the restaurant and its employees are clean and not too smelly.
  • He also focuses on the time spent queuing.
  • Once he gets to order his meal, Tom observes whether the cashier is friendly and helpful.
  • When he takes his first bite, he must try not to lose himself in the delicious taste of his fast-food hamburger.
  • After he gets home he has to fill in his questionnaire with every single little detail of the visit.


However, Tom is happy to have his burger for free, and the fast-food chain will be pleased as well when the questionnaire is filled in correctly. This scenario will be repeated by many shoppers, in multiple restaurants of the chain, during a period that can vary depending on the desires of the brand in question. The overall evaluation will enable them to look for solutions as how to do better on both general and shop level.

It goes without saying that there is more than mystery shopping alone. Sometimes the evaluator is only asked

  • To make a phone call,
  • To act as future client, or
  • To give feedback to the salesperson after the mystery evaluation is performed.


But the aim of all this will remain the same: to improve customer satisfaction. Either you are a Mystery Evaluator or a normal person with no secret life, I’m sure you would like the extra spending money or getting nice products for free. If you simply want to enjoy the experience as a Mystery Evaluator, then this is your chance to try it out.


Author: AnneloreAnnelore Valencia_edited

Annelore has been an employee of Bare International since September 2011 and is based in the Antwerp Office. She has a Master’s degree in English & Spanish literature & linguistics and a Master’s in Management. She likes discovering new places, travelling, reading and going out with friends to enjoy some very good (Belgian) beers.

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



A short summary of a guy, who met Mystery Shopping, and was instantly dropped into the deepest waters with Switzerland as a Resource Manager.

The first encounter

During my interview in February 2015 at Bare International I was faced with the question, which country I thought was easy to schedule. Based on my previous experiences, I mentioned Switzerland, Austria and Germany. I had worked with people from these countries, and we always got on very well, so I thought it could not be really hard.

The nice lady, who was present (to be my boss for my first 6 months at Bare International), immediately told me, that Switzerland was anything but easy. But then she also told me that if I thought I could manage, she’d like to see it. Not very surprisingly, I ended up scheduling Switzerland two months later.

First steps as a Resource Manager

After the initial shock of starting at a new workplace, the first trainings and the takeover from my colleague, I ended up with a complicated project and a high number of visits to perform. And that was the time when I learned to trust and rely on my Evaluators – it was a really hard time, but it was worth the experience.

I received loads of help from my fantastic colleagues regarding the language problems – French is not my strongest side – and also in finding new people to work with us. Without them, my first few months would have been much harder.

I also had the privilege to organize and participate in a meeting with our Evaluators in Geneva. Although it was organized under strict deadlines, everyone enjoyed it nevertheless. Meeting the people who work for us helped me a lot – they know me now personally. We are more to each other, than a mere email address.

The current situation

I am very happy that I can work with all the Evaluators from Switzerland and with this post I just wanted to say a big thank you to all of them, who are helping me to do my job as best as I can. It is a pleasure to work with you all. Let’s continue this in the future as well!

Speaking about mystery shopping, BARE International is my first experience in this field, and I thought I’d try it myself – thanks to the scheduler for Hungary, I now have my first visits behind me. I can now tell my Evaluators not to be afraid of the visits or our system – both can be mastered. However, if something comes up, I’m always there to help.



Author: ÁkosÁkos_blogger_pic_edited

Ákos is a full-time employee of Bare International.
He works as a scheduler for Switzerland 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 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