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 37 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.