The 10 Commandments for Successful Mystery Shopping

As a mystery shopper for over 6 years, I’ve completed over 200 shop contracts. Apartment mystery shops are some of my favorite. Through my time as a mystery shopper, I’ve determined there are 10 Commandments for a successful mystery shop.

Chisel these into your routine, and you will have a rewarding mystery shopping experience.

1- Read the shop details BEFORE accepting the shop contract. If the required conditions aren’t acceptable to you, pass on the work. If, though, you select the shop, re-read the shop contract specifications and focus on what is noted as important.

2- Adhere to the specifications for your shop contract. When your reasonable efforts are exhausted and you are having difficulty completing the shop, contact the mystery shopping company and ask for help or suggestions.

3- Keep the mystery shopping company advised of the shop status. In my six years of shopping, I’ve always found that communication is the best action, whether the shop is progressing well or I am having difficulties. The people at the shopping company are always very helpful.

4- Treat your mystery shopper jobs like a BUSINESS; they ARE. Other businesses don’t understand you need to drive your mother to her reunion, that you have relatives visiting from Timbuktu or you’re stressed and need a day at the spa; business only understands it must be conducted if folks are to be paid.

5-Check out the pay scale for the work before you accept a shop contract. Each shop contract will include details on the payment that can be earned, and to be paid in full the shop contract has to be complete in full. Decide if it is worth your time up front.

6- If you have to set an appointment as part of your shop, do what it takes to be ON TIME. If you are to contact a target for a phone shop and then do a visit, sometimes you will have to set an exact appointment. If so, don’t arrive late! You should be punctual and prepared while still being yourself and remaining anonymous as a mystery shopper.

7- Immediately upon leaving the shop, scribble down some notes. Make a cheat sheet ahead of time if the mystery shopping company does not provide one, and fill in all areas. Trust nothing to absolute memory, especially if you are conducting more than one shop that day. A micro recorder is a great way to take notes as you are driving to your next shop.

8- As soon as possible, begin the actual mystery shop report. As with any skill, the more frequently one practices, the easier the task is to complete. If you’ve taken good notes on your cheat sheet, it’s merely a matter of amplifying and transferring the information. Don’t forget to send in any required backup or receipts; without those you likely will not be paid for the shop contract.

9-ALWAYS exercise integrity. It’s very possible an employee’s future could be hanging on your report.

10- Not all mystery shopping companies are a good fit. Check out the mystery shopping company’s reputation and give one shop contract a try. If after completing a shop, or several shops, you find that company is not a good fit for you, just move on. This occurs in business, marriages and life. Respect this and yourself sufficiently, and just find another mystery shopping opportunity. There are plenty out there!

-Bob E