Hello shoppers...

Welcome back to the beginning of the work week, after a wonderfully long weekend honoring your Daddy-o. (Any striking resemblance the image in the above photo, bears to your own father, is strictly coincidental.)

Today's Monday Morning Reaction honors readers of this blog, who felt compelled enough after reading, to respond. Let me take a moment here, to thank anyone out there, who has ever taken precious moments from their own day to sit at a keyboard and pound out an email, Facebook post or Twitter tweet, in response - positive or not so much - to an Unsecret Shopper post. You could send me cash, and it still wouldn't mean as much.

However, for those preferring to send money, I'll certainly give you that address.

Let me also give you a quick and wonderful story, about three very special women, and the power of Secret Shopping.

Back in mid-April, I posted a secret shopper review of 10 Casey's General Stores, which included the location at 2070 Northwest 100th Street in Clive, just east of Seven Flags.

Quoting from my snarky review...

"No greeting initially," "bathroom is dirty," counter person said "seventy-nine" to me at check-out, without saying "hi" or anything else, etc. I gave this Casey's an overall "mask" rating of one and a half out of five, below average but also in line with the other stores I'd secret shopped that day.

It can not be easy, nor is it ever, for an employee to have their performance evaluated by someone they don't know, without them knowing it, with that evaluation then presented to their boss, their supervisors, and the public - especially without that employee having any recourse, or ability to defend themself, or a way to get back at the person taking shots at them, unless they start shooting back...


Yet revenge can be had - by being happy, someone once said.

I am very happy to report that, since that blistering review, I have been literally smothered with attention and kindness with each subsequent visit, by Suzy, Kim and Janie, three very sweet ladies who work at the Casey's store on 100th street in Clive. 

As soon as I step through that Casey's door, I am unfailingly greeted with massive smiles and robust salutations. ("Hi, Jonnie!" "Hey Jonnie, how are you?" "Getting your usual cookie?" "Thanks for stopping in!" "Have a great day!" "See you tomorrow!") I also watch as other patrons get the same rock star treatment.  

There is no question that these three Casey's store employees (and hopefully other employees at other Casey's stores) have read the secret shopper review of their store. There is no question because they told me they read it, after it was brought to their attention "by others."

It doesn't take a PhD (good thing, because I flunked out of college) to figure out who the others were, and what those others likely said to them. I am not happy that happened. But I am thrilled as can be with the result.

Another result, I've since learned, is that they have a special nickname for me (which I'll keep between the four of us, not because it's uncouth but because it's cooler if it stays as our little dealio). They've also shared stories about their loyal customers and how they keep them loyal, including taking a regular his newspaper, and even giving him a ride home.

Suzy, Janie and Kim have obviously learned that it's okay to let more of their incredible joy and happiness out to play, at work - and their lucky customers are all the luckier for it.

They've also taught me something very important - that no five-minute secret shopper visit inside a store, can begin to tell the real story of the people who work there.

                                                          Suzy, Janie and Kim


(On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Auto Repair Shops)

“Mr. Wright,

My name is Mark Goldner, owner of the Car-X stores in Des Moines and Ames. I am sorry to hear that you encountered service problems in two of our stores. The issues you identified are not characteristic of the practices we approve of and I can assure you that I am currently working to personally resolve each issue.

It is my intention, as always, to ensure that you [and every Car-X customer] are satisfied with the service and conditions in each of our Car-X stores. 

Thank you for your insight.”

Mark Goldner, President Car-X Des Moines/Ames


Thank you very much for the email, feedback and conversation today.  It is all very worthwhile information and will help us continue to be better at what we do and develop a customer focused culture in our stores…Thanks again for you input!  Good, or bad it is very much appreciated!” 


Russ Gibson

VP / Auto Systems Experts, Inc.

P.O. Box 2370

Davenport, IA 52809


Thank you for the review. Tuffy Auto Service corporate marketing has already sent me a notice of your post. They knew about the article before I did. "The Man" is everywhere and "they" are all-seeing and all-knowing.

You brought up some very good points in your article.  The auto industry has a long way to go in customer service and building customer trust. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated when I am out in town. It seems to work. I really enjoy selling service and fixing peoples problems. I don't often get to meet people on their best day. People tend to be very nervous or upset when their car is not working right. This can lead to some difficult customer service encounters. I always keep that in the back of my mind.


Hydraulic etch-a-sketches are on special this month, you get one half price with the purchase of one gallon of blinker fluid.  I'll even throw in a free battery rotation!

Thanks again.

By the way, I cleaned the restroom this morning.”

-Jason Huntley


"I sure am glad I have my own personal GM World Class Technician.  I know I can trust him.  "


“No offense, Jonnie, (or maybe a lot of offense as it seems your "shops" are biased and laced with offense), but you are not some impartial person.

You are just some guy, who has no real job, working for.....who knows....a blog like a billion other people do, but you have some sort of agenda.  What that agenda is....who cares?  But you write about it.

The point is, what your little opinion amounted to in Polk County has no relevance, nor did your "life's work".

You'll simply be a person who tries to be more than they are, more important than they are, by blogging (tweeting?) and trying to convince the masses of idiots that you have something smart to say.

Good luck on that.  Living on food stamps are you?”


“Love it... I don’t live anywhere near you however I do enjoy your writings....”


“I had to go into a parts store, O'Riley's...bad,bad,bad!  They actually looked at me and then looked back down at what they were doing and left me standing there for 3 minutes until one of them yelled to the back that they needed more counter help!  I guess they don't think that maybe, just maybe a woman just MIGHT have a clue of what they need!!!  I was really not happy with them or the way they treated me.  I WON'T be back there EVER AGAIN."


“FYI the O'Rileys auto part store on SE 14th have the nicest guys working there...they even smile. It's crazy! :-)”



 "I enjoy reading your posts..."


"Very interesting!"


(On A Death In The Family: Emmie, Dr. Bolser And The Power of Customer Service)


I just finished reading your blog, which was sent to me by Iowa Veterinary Specialties hospital administrator, Eric DeTemmerman.

I first want to send you my deepest condolences for Emmie.  Having been down the end - of - life road many times, I know there are no magic words of comfort that will make the pain of those last few hours go away.  Your wonderful write-up of a very special family member will help to clear the way for all the incredibly happy memories with Emmie to return.

I also wanted you to know - you are right.  I have had the honor of knowing Dr. Karl Bolser, since before he graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine 20 years ago.  He is both a true friend and an extraordinarily talented emergency veterinarian.  Emmie could not have had a more kind, compassionate, knowledgeable doctor in her final time of need.  I am very glad my friend, Karl Bolser, was there for you too.”


Lyne Anderson-Neal CVT

ISU College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2013

“I'm so sorry for your loss of beloved Emmie. What a treasure the last years of life with her - indoors. Take time to savor those happy memories. Love the story. Very moving.”


“Only one thing bad about our fuzzy family members.... they don't live nearly long enough for us.  Thanks for your story.”


"That made me cry.  What a great tribute to Emmie, Jonnie! Losing a beloved pet is so hard. Allow yourselves to grieve."


"I'm so sorry."


"So sorry for your loss, Jonnie and Lori.  It was only 2 weeks ago that I too had to make that decision.  Heart breaking.  Take care and thanks for sharing."


“Aww, Emmie looks like she was a beautiful dog. So sorry about your loss.”


“Really sorry about your and Lorri's loss, Jonnie. Sounds like Emmie was a great dog, as most are. I hope the void left behind by her loss can be filled with happiness of her memories.”


 “Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Emmie.  Thank you for the way you brought to life the joy she brought you as well as the joy she experienced with you.  No other words can be found right now...just a tidal wave of emotions.”


(On Monday Morning Reaction: 20 Reasons To Smile)

“Dear Mr. Wright,

Thank you for writing Hy-Vee and for your kind compliments about Kim at our West Des Moines store on Grand.

I've forwarded your message to Andy Streit, store director at that location so he can share your message with Kim and the rest of his staff.  I've also forwarded your message to Andy's supervisory officers here at our corporate office so they can share in the excitement.

Thank you again for writing us about Kim!”


Kelly Judisch

Customer Service Representative

Hy-Vee Inc.


What a great concept!!  I am so thrilled to know that you were able to reward an employee of Grand Avenue Hy-Vee for being pleasant and smiling.  Kim is a wonderful person and a great representative of Hy-Vee.  I will be sure to let everyone know what a great job Kim is doing and give her the praise due.  This is a great way to "reward something done well" and I believe it will be contagious - hopefully we will be seeing smiles everywhere! 

Thanks for taking the time to write, Jonnie; it was a great start to my morning to get such a good report.  Sometime when you are in, please feel free to ask for me, I'd love to meet you.  Perhaps, I will smile at you before I even know who you are.

Thank you, have a great day.”

Andy Streit

Store Director

“Dear Jonnie,

I have received your e-mail regarding your comments at our Casey's General Store in Norwalk #2, IA.

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail us with your positive comments. We pride ourselves in offering only quality products and service to our customers. I am very happy that we were able to serve you.

I will forward you e-mail to our District Manager, Kia Taylor. I assure you, she will take the necessary steps to recognize this valuable Casey's employee.

We value your patronage and welcome your feedback. We look forward to serving you in the future!

Thanks again!”

Sandy Kamp | Store Operations Department

Casey's General Stores, Inc.

One Convenience Blvd. Ankeny, IA 50021-9672

“Thank you for this post, Jonnie.  It was a breath of fresh air and a much-needed warm, fuzzy reminder about what's important in this life!”



(On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Best Buy)

“Dear Jonnie,

I would like to thank you for your candid and detailed appraisal of our stores customer service on the day of your visit.  We spend considerable time and effort training our employees to provide a great customer experience to all of our customers.  The shop has been shared with every employee and manager in our store to help them experience the frustration that a customer may go through if we do not ask the right questions and pay sincere attention to their individual needs.  Reading your appraisal of our store was humbling, embarrassing and is being used as a catalyst for change. I would also like to offer you an open invitation to speak with my leadership team about improving our store from a customer’s perspective.

Thank you and we hope to have another chance to show or improvements on your next visit with us.”


Larry Boehm

General Manager

Best Buy

4100 University Ave.

West Des Moines, Iowa

“And....who are you, Jonnie?  Some middle-aged guy that works for an unknown local AM radio station and blogs to his 5 to 200 area devotees?  Yet you claim to be some sort of "trainer" in customer service and are a "professional", when it comes to these area shops.  Seriously, who do you train?  What companies elicit your expertise? I really want to know, as it seems you are some local unknown hack, that I see every now and then on the local blogs.

For instance....Agent Hildreth.  You didn't mention in your blog that you called him a liar for not having a business card.  I know this guy personally and only caught wind of your unknown blog via him.  He didn't have biz cards.  You were very antagonistic with him; basically you were a jerk, because you felt he had to give you his full name to you. You felt you were entitled to his full name.  This is a guy who had clients look his name up in phone book in the past and have had them call him at home. He is not comfortable with giving out his full name.  If you can't respect that, then that is your problem, honestly.  There will never be an instance where employees will be required to give out there full names in any retail environment if they don't wish to and that is entirely your problem if you don't agree to it.  If you have a problem with that, then you will simply have to get over it.  You got a business card and full name from a previous Agent in your day of "bias", which you also didn't mention in your blog, and she is in leadership - you called Kim "he" by the way in your blog.  Great job there.... so much for your penmanship or your ability to notice who you were talking to....

I shop here a lot, as I'm in the area, and known some people here. It seems you were on a mission to only notice how the various associates greeted you in the store.  While you somewhat acknowledge that you got contacted in every department, because they didn't ask open-ended "opening statements" to you, you grilled them and downgraded them. You gave no kudos to the people who did well after, except Mike.

Stop to think...when you are asking personal questions of the associates in the stores you visit, don't you think that those associates find it odd of the questions you ask?

Seriously, if a client or an employee of a store started to ask where I grew up, what my full name was, what high school I went to, I'd think there was something very odd about them, or something very wrong about them.  Like there is something odd about you...

Maybe you should rethink your approach on people, Johnnie.  Some may think you a stalker, or a very odd person of the personal questions you ask.  I would never give you my full name, for instance, as you seem mentally unbalanced.”


“I read through the whole thing without finding any mention of the overwhelming b.o. smell in that store.  The last time I was literally holding my breath - just can't take it any more.”


"I love [the Best Buy in Ames]. Even when you call them to ask if they have something in stock, they are very helpful, offering to set it aside for you to come in and get it. I think that's great!"


General comments:

“I'm at Menards in the DM Metro and they could definitely benefit from your visit. Rude w/attitude.”



“Can I secret shop for you? It looks like you have a blast!”



(In response to repeated clubbing of Target for not playing music in their stores)

"Von Maur has a live pianist. Doesn't that count?”


Great idea. I'm sending this one to Target Corporate.


Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT. Email Jonnie at jonniewright@thebuyosphere.com.


Open The Buyosphere Toolbox to get FREE exclusive access to proven tools that will help you generate higher shop sales and profits - delivered weekly, right to your inbox!