IssuesLocal NewsSecret Shoppers Hired by Mark Cuban Find Many Dallas Businesses Comply with Health Guidelines

Entrepreneur Mark Cuban hired secret shoppers to visit 300 business locations in Dallas to observe whether they were complying with state-issued health guidelines.
May 12, 2020
When Governor Greg Abbott issued his “Open Texas” orders allowing many businesses like restaurants and movie theaters to reopen on May 1, they came with some occupancy limits and recommended protocols that the businesses were advised to follow should they decide to open.

Entrepreneur and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban hired ShiftSmart, a San Francisco based  company, to deploy secret shoppers to see if businesses that opened in Dallas were complying with the safe practice guidelines issued by the Texas Department of State Health Services. 

Cuban explained in a blog entry that the survey was completed May 1-3, the first weekend that many of these businesses were allowed to open for in-person dining and sales.  The company called about 1000 restaurants and retailers to see how many had decided to open.

Out of its sample, it determined the opening rate to be about 36 percent. Cuban added that “a large degree of latent fear in the marketplace” was a reason that many businesses chose not to reopen during the first weekend.  

Another reason, however, could be that the 25 percent capacity allowed by Abbott’s order did not make opening worthwhile for some businesses.  

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“Certain types of businesses, like some dine-in and entertainment venues, will struggle at that level,” Rob Henneke of the Texas Public Policy Foundation told The Texan.

The ShiftSmart secret shoppers visited about 300 locations across Dallas in person to observe the degree of compliance at the businesses. The report didn’t specify how many visits were made to each business, how long the shopper was present, or at what time of day each visit was made.

Cuban also reports in his blog that 96 percent of businesses were non-compliant across all mandatory protocols and all locations. Only 4 percent of businesses visited were fully compliant with all protocols.

However, Cuban’s report doesn’t explain which protocols ShiftSmart considered mandatory given that the DSHS protocols were issued as recommendations and best practices. The guidelines by DSHS are described by the agency as “recommendations…intended to minimize the medical, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19.”

On May 8, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins issued an order making the state’s recommendations mandatory for businesses that choose to reopen.

ShiftSmart’s compliance chart shows that at least 43 percent of businesses visited were following a majority of what ShiftSmart determined were “mandatory” state-issued protocols.

In fact the report goes on to say that “in aggregate – locations followed ~58% of all mandatory + suggested protocols.” In other words, a majority of businesses visited by the secret shoppers were following most of the DSHS guidelines.

“Nearly all types of businesses are adapting and are making an effort to comply,” Henneke observed.  “We should defer to businesses to make their best efforts and to consumers who can make educated choices about patronizing certain businesses.”

Cuban plans to continue the effort throughout the month and compare results by visiting the same location to see how compliance may change.

The famed entrepreneur, who also serves on an advisory team to President Trump on reopening the American economy said, “We have to get to that point where the White House standard becomes the national standard, I think, in order for consumers to feel safe going out, in order for employers to feel completely safe bringing people back to work,” Cuban said on Squawk Box. 

”I think we can get there, I just don’t know when.” 


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Kim Roberts

Kim Roberts is a reporter for the Texan in the DFW metroplex area where she has lived for over twenty years. She has a Juris Doctor from Baylor University Law School and a Bachelor's in government from Angelo State University. In her free time, Kim home schools her daughter and coaches high school extemporaneous speaking and apologetics. She has been happily married to her husband for 23 years, has three wonderful children, and two dogs.