40+ YEARS OF HISTORY
In 1972, National
Shopping Service started out as a small private investigation
firm owned and operated by a retired police officer in Orange
County, CA, John Astle. Around 1985, Paul Bingham, a salesperson
and Mormon Bishop, purchased the company from his long time
friend Astle. Bingham utilized his large family to perform
almost all of the local mystery shops.
Bingham's business savvy and attention to quality quickly turned in to more clientele. The company was being run from the dining room table of Bingham's Huntington Beach home with all 6 children and wife Barbara helping. Bingham, recognizing his limitations, placed the business on the market for sale in early 1990. The business was listed with a Los Angeles based Mergers and Acquisition firm, Business Index Group. About this time, the economy was in recession and the merger and acquisition business slowed. Matt Wozniak of Business Index Group saw the potential and sturdy foundation of the fledgling National Shopping Service and signed a deal with Bingham to purchase it.
The FFE (Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment) transferred in the sale consisted of a stapler (still in Wozniak's top desk drawer), a typewriter, an IBM PC with an external 10 MB hard drive, a desk, and a broken chair. There were a handful of happy clients, a database of about 500 loyal mystery shoppers, and a vision.
Wozniak, a long time entrepreneur, quickly assimilated Bingham's knowledge of the business and set the company's direction for growth, continued excellence, and to be an industry leader. As the sole employee of National Shopping Service working out of 100 square feet of office space, Wozniak began to upgrade equipment and automating systems, creating a foundation for growth. Hiring a friend as his first full-time employee allowed Wozniak the time to begin to solicit new business. The creed was the same: Excellence, Timeliness, Attention to Detail, and a lot of paperwork. The clients came.
Initial growth, often doubling gross revenue each year, was sometimes painful. Continually refining infrastructure, staffing, and technology were always the topic of the day - but always with quality as the prime directive. Soon National Shopping Service clientele grew from local markets to national. The recruiting and training of the field staff became more and more sophisticated and technologically advanced.
By the late 1990s, the Company was recognized as an industry leader. National Shopping Service had seen its gross revenue increase 20 fold over the previous 10 years. The Internet and e-mail were now playing a major role in recruiting, training, data gathering, and delivery. Mystery Shopping reports that used to be delivered to the client 14 days after the shop visit were now being delivered in less than two days. The National Shopping Service database of Shoppers all across the U.S. was approaching 100,000 strong.
National Shopping Service consummated several relationships with European companies, training them on "Western" customer service standards. National Shopping Service was now truly Inter-National Shopping Service.
In 1999, National Shopping Service moved its corporate offices from Los Angeles, adjacent to LAX, to Northern California. This move would allow continued focus on excellence in a more business-friendly environment.
After 40+ successful years, National Shopping Service has
developed into one of the world’s premier mystery shopping
providers and continues to provide a dynamic suite of innovative
customer and employee research services to its clients.