Loddon operators come up trumps

Published on 01 September 2014

Two prominent businesses in Loddon Shire have created a fine impression during recent anonymous visits under the “Mystery Shopper” auditing scheme conducted by Bendigo Tourism.

Bridgewater Bakehouse and the Inglewood Emporium have both received detailed assessments praising their business performance.

The Mystery Shopper is a professional analyst who arrives at a business and silently rates it on a wide range of quality criteria.

Bridgewater Bakehouse received an overall mark of 70%, with high scores given to its access and signage (100%), food and beverage (82%) and presentation (80%).

The reviewer commented that the venue was well signed, both externally and internally.

“It was extremely busy and the staff maintained a stoic front, managing to smile through the obvious stress,” the report said.

“The meals and beverages were served in an appropriate time frame despite the workload and we would certainly recommend this venue to others.

“I will visit again one day to purchase the nicest sourdough bread I have tasted.  Glad I bought two loaves!”

Bakehouse owner Pat O’Toole said this week he thoroughly endorsed the idea of such an audit.

“It’s good,” Mr O’Toole said.  “I’ve always thought business feedback of this kind is a good idea, because it helps you sort out any areas which need more work.

“We have 19 staff now – five baking and the rest out the front – and we’re seeing an average of 500 to 550 customers a day.

“That figure can spike to 700 or 800 at different times, so if there is a problem, it’s just that we struggle to serve everyone quickly enough, given those numbers.

“It’s up to us as owners to keep the appropriate level of training up to staff to maintain the standards we want to see.”

At Inglewood Emporium, the Mystery Shopper awarded an overall score of 85%, with full marks given in four areas – first impressions on arrival, access and signage, regional knowledge and departure.

Staff activity and the retail offering also scored highly, both at 83%.

The reviewer was impressed with the variety of items and the layout of the store.

“Everything was presented neatly in logical positions and I felt there was enough room to explore between the large numbers of items on sale,” the report read.
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“The man behind the counter was friendly and welcoming.  He gave us good knowledge about the main street and explained that Inglewood was becoming a stopping point for many tourists interested in antiques.

“I was impressed by his passion for the local area.”

Store owner Denise Gartside said she and husband Steve were surprised to hear their business had been visited, but pleased with the results.

“There were some good comments in the report,” Mrs Gartside said.  “We do try to acknowledge everyone who comes into the shop.

“It’s also good to see an antiques business included in this kind of audit – normally, it’s the kind of thing that focuses on the larger retail sector.”