Developing New Identities

If you shop for a company for an extended period, you are bound to exhaust your job opportunities if you use the same identity.  Most companies have requirements on the number of locations you can shop more than once, but some may allow you to shop a property several times if you present yourself as an entirely new shopper.

Since some apartment management companies record information of visitors in their computer databank, which may include your name, email address, telephone number, or any other personal information in their system, this information might pop up to the employee as they input the information into the computer the next time you shop.  Shopping the same location can clearly signal to an employee that you might be a mystery shopper.

However, if you are an experienced shopper, you will realize you should have new identities readily available so you can pick up new shops.  If you have performed a shop before at the same location, it will sometimes be noted that you can shop again if you use a different name, telephone number and email address.

A mystery shopper can easily use a nickname or married name to change their identity and there are numerous free email websites to obtain a different address.  For example, if your name is Elizabeth, change it and use a nickname such as Liz, Eliza, or any other closely associated name.  Also, do not forget to sign up for new email addresses which allow you to obtain new identities.  There are numerous websites that provide free addresses, such as Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo.

Follow these tips to have numerous identities to allow you to qualify for more shops!

Best Days/Times to Shop

file000786402730(1)Every once in awhile, you will have a full day of mystery shopping. This can be a good thing and you should be happy, as this give you an opportunity to earn a lot of money. Check with your scheduler to make sure you shop on the correct day; some shops cannot be done on the weekend while others can ONLY be done on the weekend. It’s important to adhere to the client’s specifications.

If you need help arranging your itinerary for the day, look at the times certain shops close. For instance, apartment shops usually stop showing their last apartment before sundown and banks close earlier than most retail stores. In addition, some shops have certain times that the shop must or must not be completed within.

Although you may think the best way to complete shops is by geographic route, remember that time is also a factor and it needs to be considered.

Shopping in New Areas

Are you ready to do mystery shopping in a new area? Maybe you are visiting friends or family and still need to do some shopping to keep you busy and make some money. We all know mystery shopping can be addictive! Follow the ideas here and you will find shops in any area you may find yourself.

Perhaps you did not know that you can look up addresses and zip codes on the United States Post Office site.  This will help you have the information you need to find shops in new areas.

Simply go to: https://www.usps.com/ and click on “Quick Tools”. From there, click “Look Up a Zip Code”. You’ll enter an address and it will provide you with the zip code. The United Postal Service has zip code maps as well or you could even use Google to find the zip code area.

Once you have the zip code, simply open the Ellis page: http://epmsonline.com/ and go to where you select your shops. There you will find a place to select your shop area. You can then look by zip code or even look at the address where you are staying to find out what shops may be available in that area.

That was easy and now you are on your way to finding shops in different parts of the country!

Ace the Onsite Visit

Follow these tips to ensure your shop visit goes smoothly.

Know Where You are Going

Make sure to check the address and traffic before you head to your assigned apartment location. The good thing is most apartment shop assignments do not require you to make a solid appointment time.

 

This allows you to arrive at any time before closing time, though keep in mind that some communities have a cutoff time for when they will provide tours. Not having a specific appointment time ensures if you run into any traffic, that you are still able to complete the shop the same day as the phone call.

Most leasing agents are there throughout the entire day. If you arrive and your leasing agent is at lunch, you can ask when they will return or complete the shop with the next available agent if it will be over an hour.

Bring Your Driver’s License

The leasing agent is required to hold your driver’s license while they complete the tour; this is for their safety.

Please double check your wallet or purse to make sure you have your driver’s license before you leave for the apartment community. Most of the time, the agent will not provide a tour if you don’t have your license, which could cause the pay on the shop to be reduced.

Take Mental Notes

Remember, you cannot take any obvious notes during the apartment mystery shop, so you will need to take mental notes.

After you complete a couple of shops, you will notice that most shops are similar. As you complete more shops, you will find a decrease in any potential nervousness you may had initially.

Trust me, it does get easier and you will be able to focus and enjoy the décor.

Blend In

Your job is to blend into their typical prospective resident demographic so that you appear to be one of them. You do not want to trigger a thought in your leasing agent’s mind that you are a mystery shopper.

This will enable them space to do what they have been trained to do, naturally!

Creative Ways to Reach a Target

Do Not Cancel a Shop Because of TargetThere are times when you must reach a designated person on an apartment shop. This can be because the person has been singled out for a raise or even for a promotion or it is just time for their annual review. In any case, you need some creative ways to get your target on the telephone.

First of all, you could try to have yourself and another person call the office and see if the target answers the call. If your helper is the one who reaches the target, simply switch telephones and carry on with the shop. Make sure you take notes and you should be on your way to completing the shop.

 

Secondly, if you only have yourself to complete the call, you could use the hold or add a call feature on your cellular phone. Make the call as normal and then add the call the number again with the add the call feature. Again if you reach your target, all is fine. If not, hang up and see if the target is on the other line.

Thirdly, when you do calls as such as these, make up a reason for saying you called the wrong number. You could say you thought it was another apartment community and choose a name from another town.

Lastly, try not to call over and over again in an hour. Remember, the agent could be with a customer or showing an apartment so space your calls and see if you can reach you target without too much hassle.

Using Audio Equipment

Missing TargetCongratulations! Your scheduler has emailed you asking you to complete a well-paying audio shop! Don’t panic – the money to do the shop is good and all you have to do is get the right equipment. Keep in mind some companies provide the equipment to use and others will ask you provide your own. If you need to provide your own, ask you scheduler what type of audio file they would prefer. Some prefer .wav and others will ask for a different extension; check to make sure.

If you need very small equipment, check online stores to get the best gear with the best price for the project. If you happen to have a smartphone, you can go to the app store and find an app that will work with an audio extension. After you have found the correct one and downloaded, it you are ready for testing. Have someone chat with you and test out if both you and the other person can be heard. Then try walking while talking and verify the equipment is working.

Get comfortable with it and you should be ready to use your new equipment on shops in little time. Remember, when in doubt, you can always email or call EPMS for additional guidance.

Set the Agent Up for Success

Earn-Cash-and-Help-The-Elderly1When you complete a mystery shop, try to give the leasing agent the best opportunity to be successful.  Here are a couple of ways you can establish a good platform for success.

Tip # 1 Listen More Than You Talk

Let the leasing agent ask most of the questions and do most of the talking. Their job is to learn your needs; give them the time and space to do this. Allow the leasing agent to lead the conversation. There may be times when the leasing agent seems uninterested, but then warms up as you respond rather than overpower the conversation.

Our job as mystery shoppers is to give the leasing agent and community staff the best opportunity to show off their training and customer service skills.

Tip #2 Give the Proper Information

You do not have to answer the phone or respond to emails, yet make sure to give the correct contact information so that you will receive their follow-up. There is a section in every report that scores the agent for making attempts to follow-up and we want them to have the chance to earn all their points.

If you start to complete many shops, create an email address just for mystery shop follow up so that you do not have to flood your real inbox. Just remember to check it so you can be sure to award the points that are deserved!

Overall, our job as a shopper is not to catch the leasing agent doing or saying anything wrong. However, if a leasing agent is just not doing their job and you gave them ample opportunity, your hands are tied; you tried, so no hard feelings. Our job is to give the opportunity to do everything right and then we brag on them in the mystery shopping report to management!

3 Keys to a Solid Shop Report

16Remember, completing the phone and onsite portion of the shop is just the beginning. The final icing on the cake is your mystery shop report. This report is extremely important as this is what will be sent to the apartment management staff for review.

Key #1 Good Notes

To take good notes, you have two options.  One way is to take some quick notes on your cell phone by sending yourself a text or entering the information in your electronic notepad.

You can also record the shop, even if it is not an audio shop, so that you can refer to it later. This option may take the pressure off you, especially during your first couple of shops.

Key #2 Know Your Deadlines

Most shop reports are due within 24 hours of onsite visit completion. Submitting within this timeline allows you to compose the report while the information is still fresh in your mind. This also ensures that you do not forget to upload the backup documents and that you do not misplace them.

Key #3 Order of Report Completion

Once you have completed both the phone and onsite visit, upload your documentation including the leasing agent’s business card and a picture of the floor plan first. Then, you can start to enter your shop based on the order of the tabs within the mystery shop report.

To save myself time and make sure I remember the details, I enter the phone portion of the shop right after it is completed. Many times, I do this prior to the onsite portion of the shop. Doing this gives me the added benefit of knowing I have at least started the mystery shop report. I feel so refreshed once I have completed the onsite portion of the shop and I see part of the report already finished!

Preparing for a 12-Hour Day

be successful as a mystery shopper Every so often, you might end up with eight or more shops that must be completed in a single day. When you factor in the hours driving from one location to the next, you know you will be working a 12-hour shift. Days like these do not often come around, so if you can get through the project and make some good money, you will be better for it. Here are a few tips to help keep you going.

Most importantly, wear comfortable shoes. Wear clothing that can take you from high-end shops, to apartments shops, to restaurants and to retail. You can also always carry items of clothing in your car.

Take your smartphone if you have one and make sure you have a full charge and a charger. If you need to download apps for any of your shops, do so at home rather than waiting Wi-Fi while out. Carry a notepad; sometimes pen and paper are easier to use than anything else.

Make sure you stay hydrated and carry some water and snacks. Lastly, make sure your car is good working order and you have a full tank of gas.

Follow these tips and you will be ready to go on your missions!

Completing Reports Efficiently

13After completing an apartment mystery shop, you must take the time to complete the online report. Online reports are typically due within 24 hours after the shop has been completed. Once the report is submitted, you must pay attention to your phone calls, voicemails and emails to note any follow-up received from the leasing agent you evaluated during the mystery shop. I will share four steps I use to make sure I complete every portion of the online report thoroughly.

Step 1: Secure and Review Your Notes and Documents

By having all your notes and documents in one place, you will be able to complete the shop faster because you will not have to stop and look for answers as you come to those questions. Also, put your notes in the same order as the sections of the report so you can complete each section easily, once started.

Step 2: Take Photos and Upload Any Documents

Take photos and upload documents first. This will ensure you do not lose the documents before you can show proof that you completed the shop. Do not forget to name the files appropriately so your shop report editor will know what each document is and which apartment property they are for.

Step 3: Explain Any ‘No’ Answers

Make sure you explain ‘no’ answers to any of the questions. This helps the editor understand what you experienced during the shop and supports your opinion.

Overall, the goal is to complete your online apartment report accurately and on time. Late submissions can deter the company from assigning you more shops. The apartment reports are easy to complete if you have all of your notes and documents. Choose to follow the above steps and you will have nothing to worry about!