Mark Cuban hired secret shoppers to evaluate reopened Dallas businesses, found 'dramatic' noncompliance

Mark Cuban hired secret shoppers to evaluate reopened Dallas businesses, found 'dramatic' noncompliance

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hired a team of secret shoppers to evaluate the coronavirus mitigation practices implemented by Dallas businesses that have reopened, and he found that many businesses were not complying with guidelines.

Cuban detailed the findings Thursday on his blog, and explained the reason for the study.

"I wanted to get an understanding of what opening meant to businesses around Dallas," Cuban wrote. "Were they opening? What precautions were they taking? Were employees in safe environments? And bigger picture, I wanted to know if these are places that I would feel safe taking my family to."

To determine about what percentage of businesses reopened, the researchers called roughly 1,000 businesses, selected based on popularity. They found that only about 36% of businesses chose to reopen during the first weekend.

"Media coverage, showcasing owner sentiment and infection statistics, paint a picture of a large degree of latent fear in the marketplace," Cuban wrote.

The secret shoppers also conducted in-person audits at about 300 businesses to evaluate the way they operated and implemented recommended or required coronavirus precautions. Overwhelmingly, the audit found that businesses were not complying with mandated protocols.

"Overall – 96% of businesses were non-compliant across all mandatory protocols and all locations. The extent of non-compliance is dramatic with ~1/3 of all locations being <50% compliant across mandatory protocols as established by the Governor's office," Cuban wrote.

Cuban also found inconsistency between various locations of the same companies, which he said was "interesting."

"We've done very preliminary levels of comparative analysis, but early assessments show a pattern in the data of highly variable compliance within a parent franchise," Cuban wrote. "This is really interesting because a larger parent corporation would be highly concerned with variable degrees of compliance amongst their corporate-owned restaurants and would push for standardization and measurement, not dissimilar from regular mystery shopping and performance auditing workflows."

Cuban said he plans to research this further to track improvement over time. More businesses, such as barbershops and salons, will be allowed to open in Texas on Friday, although capacity will be limited and social distancing protocols put in place.