HS Brands International is a global mystery shopping and loss
prevention company.
The Service Sleuth division provides worldwide mystery shopping services, customer data
collection that measures and provides feedback on the guest experience.
The Mershimer Group division creates customized loss prevention programs, executes
audits and consults on royalty assurance, which drive results and can significantly impact a
client’s bottom line.
Company Overview
HS Brands International was formed in 2006 when Tom Mills (Service Sleuth
est. 1992) and Mike Mershimer (The Mershimer Group est. 2003) formed a
The two divisions of HS Brands are designed to work seamlessly together to
improve the customer experience and minimize loss.
HS Brands International boasts some of the world’s most recognized brands as
clients. They are committed to growing their client’s business through customer
service excellence and loss prevention strategies utilizing the industry’s most
advanced technology. HS Brands has a database of up to 500,000 field
contractors, which will grow as they continue to expand globally.
HS Brands International currently has 6 offices worldwide; Boston, Las Vegas,
Switzerland, Turkey, India and Argentina.
HS Brands International is a member of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s
Operations Delivery Strategy
Mystery Shopping and Loss Prevention programs that are complimentary to each other. We
are a one-stop shop for all Loss Prevention programs and Mystery Shopping services eliminating
your need for multiple vendors, which cuts down your costs.
– The Service Sleuth division of HS Brands can handle any mystery/integrity shopping and barspotting domestically (including Nevada) and internationally.
– The Mershimer Group handles everything that goes beyond simple mystery shopping like in
store audits, business standard evaluations, fraud/theft investigations, loss prevention
planning and awareness and even high risk terminations.
We lead the way in the technological advances of our industry.
– Tom Mills Jr. created the industry’s first web-based mystery shopping software.
– HS Brands is on top of the newest software and tools from web-based platforms to
smartphone surveys. You saw it here first.
Every mystery shop report is read by an editor as part of our quality control process. Shops
are read for grammar and style as well as basic shop guideline fulfillment. These controls create a
finer product for the client because there are multiple people that touch the report before it gets to
the client. The report has a number of stages from the scheduling and shop execution phase to the
editing phase.
Our reporting functions are unparalleled. We utilize fully customizable dashboards, graphical
and mapping data and tools including triggered reports that are tailored to your program. Reports
are important to showcase your data and make a profound impact on your team. You can compare
districts, regions and managers for overall customer experience. Or you can drill down to
recognize trends over time, analyze question-by-question and rank locations. You can also view
individual reports on screen or do a mass data export.
Mystery Shopper Profiling, Selection and Training
Any person in the world that wishes to become a mystery shopper signs up in one of our
databases depending upon where they live.
Once in the database they are required to complete extensive demographic data about
themselves, which includes gender, race, marital status, children, income level and education
level. They also supply us with a writing sample.
Our proofreading team, who also determines if this person can become an active shopper now
capable of receiving potential mystery shopping jobs, reviews the writing samples.
Once active, the shoppers receive e-mails that detail potential mystery shopping jobs in their area.
Their request for a particular job is sent to our scheduling team who selects which shoppers are
best for a particular assignment.
The proofreading team reviews the mystery shop and grades the performance on a scale of 1-10.
Shoppers that did exactly what they were instructed; such as provide a detailed report with no
grammatical mistakes or contradictions and submit the report on time receive a 10. For each
missing piece or any need for cleanup or contact to the shopper by the proofreader lowers the
score. Once the final rating is selected, the proofreader writes a detailed list of what could have
been done by the shopper to achieve a higher or perfect score.
Going forward the scheduling team uses this rating in it’s selection process and potentially
deactivates shoppers that fall below our acceptable threshold of 7.
Shoppers that are MSPA certified (silver or gold level) are used more often because they are
trained more extensively by the MSPA.
We can create shopper tests in our Sherlock software system for certain mystery shops that need
a higher level of familiarity/industry knowledge to complete. For example, all casino mystery
shoppers need to complete the “casino shopper test” before applying to take a casino mystery
Project Management Tools
Shopper interaction is an integral part of the success of each mystery shopping
project that we run. Scheduler and client service manager contact details are in
every set of shop instructions, so shoppers have access to the people who are
running the actual program. We recruit shoppers, they apply for jobs and are in
constant contact with the scheduling team throughout the assignment process and
up until shop completion. After that, shoppers are in contact with the editing team to
make sure every detail of the report is addressed.
HS Brands uses a rating and feedback system to gauge shoppers. After each
completed report an editor rates the shopper’s performance on that mystery shop on
a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being the worst and 10 being the best). Editors also leave
helpful comments for the shoppers to improve their shop rating for next time.
Quality and Data Validation
All data collected goes into our Sherlock software
system. Once shops are completed they are read by
one of our editors for style and grammar. They also
read reports to make sure that the shopper followed
the shop instruction exactly. They can go back to the
shopper for more detail on their report or to clarify
why they answered a question the way they did.
Shoppers and editors are in constant communication
during this process.
We also have two services that pick up on fraud
The first is called Geo-Verify, where a shopper can
check in via geo-location service on their
smartphone to a shop location. This verifies their
shop location and time. They will then receive a code
to put in their mystery shop report that proves they
were at the locations they were supposed to be at
and within a specific time frame (if applicable).
Another fraud detection service we use is Photo
DNA, which looks at the authenticity of photos and
receipt uploads. It can detect if photos were doctored
in any way as well as identifies duplicate receipts. It
alerts the editor immediately if the system thinks it’s
a fraudulent match.
Approach to Online Reporting
3 Pronged Approach to Reporting:
Viewing data on screen: You can view the
data on screen within our Sherlock software
system or export/PDF the reports
Data export: You can export the data for
further manipulation and analyzing.
Use Sherlock’s suite of reports: Sherlock
has over 50 statistical reports ranging from
geographic reports to trending over time.
These reports are fully customizable too.
View our reporting video here.
Partial Client List
Batteries +
Bellagio Resort and Casino
Cousin’s Subs
Dunkin’ Donuts
Hyatt Gaming
Jiffy Lube
Johnny Rockets
The Light Group
National Amusements
Olympia Sports
Papa John’s
ProPark Valet
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
Spencer’s Gifts
Smokey Bones
Treasure Island Resort and Casino
Westin Hotels
Wolfgang Puck
HS Brands continues to demonstrate a high level of
professionalism, service, and flexibility. Since
beginning our working relationship, they have
continually shown that they are a company with our
best interests in mind, and they are there to help us
improve our guest experience month in and month
out. While we initially began using them for our
customer service shops, they have also been
instrumental for our loss prevention team with their
integrity shopping service and experience.
Like many other retailers, there are times when our
priorities shift and we need HS Brands to quickly shift
gears for us. They’ve done so every time we’ve
asked, and they’ve done so willingly and without
hesitation. They are a vendor partner we know we
can rely on to help us improve our guest experience,
and keep improving our business. We’ve seen
positive results year over year in our guest service,
and HS Brands and their dedication to providing top
notch service and reporting has been a big part of our
strategy for improvement.
Scott H., Senior Director of Operations at Spencer's
I strongly recommend The Mershimer Group division of HS
Brands for loss prevention services. They provide a unique
and valued expertise that fills an important need for our
company. They understand our business and are dedicated to
providing diligent and professional services, both for company
and franchised operations. Their reports are clear and
actionable and their attention to detail creates a solid record
for any later dispute resolution requirements. Whether the
circumstances are urgent or routine, they never fail to
accommodate our needs.
Bob S., VP - General Counsel, Friendly's Ice Cream
Tom Mills Jr., CEO
[email protected]
800-723-1150 x 114
500 Myles Standish Blvd.
Taunton, MA 02780
Tom is the past President of the Mystery Shopping Provider’s Association (MSPA) and
creator of SASSIE, the industry’s first web based mystery shopping software. Tom’s
experience comes from running a mystery shopping company for 20 years after working in
management and merchandising capacities with Staples, Kentucky Fried Chicken and
Tom is the Chief Operating Officer at HS Brands International, a global mystery shopping
and loss prevention company headquartered in Taunton, MA. Other office locations
include: Las Vegas, NV, Switzerland, Turkey, India, and Argentina.
Tom is a licensed Private Investigator (NV PILB #1182).

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