Rejection Hurts!  How to GET your report Accepted!

There is no doubt that rejection hurts!  Studies show that feelings of rejection and the experience of physical pain are both felt in the same area of the brain.  We hope that our mystery shops are enjoyable to complete and bring the satisfaction of a job well done.  We never enjoy notifying a shopper that a shopping report they have submitted is being rejected.  Here are some ways to ensure your shopping report is accepted so that our client can use it and you can be paid.

  • Read all the way through the instructions for your shop before you begin.  Some shops include specific days of the week to shop.  Many shops have a “target agent” you must speak with, or an agent you are requested not to shop.  Some shops require that a specific scenario be used, or a question asked. 

  • Listen carefully to the telephone greeting when the phone is answered.  If the greeting does not match the name of the property, reach out to us before proceeding with the visit.  We will be happy to make sure you have reached the correct community.

  • When you arrive at the community, double check the exact name of the community and the address to make sure it matches your shop instructions.  Different properties may have very similar names and differ only in words like “Estates at ___” or “Woods of ____”.  Two properties may have entrances from the same private road or parking area.  The address and name of the community will usually be found on the door, so it is a good habit to double check as you walk in.

  • You are always required to bring a valid, government issued photo ID and willingly present it if asked.  If you can’t tour because you don’t have your ID, your report will not be accepted.

  • Do not decline a tour for any reason if one is offered.  You may have said you are looking for a two-bedroom apartment and they only have a one-bedroom to show.  You should not decline to look at the one-bedroom, and you should appear interested and engaged in seeing it.

  • Do not disclose that you are a shopper at any time during your shop, or at any time later.  If you are asked directly if you are a shopper, please say that you are not.  If your shopper identity is compromised, we will not be able to accept your shop.

  • Submit your report in a timely manner after your visit.  We request that reports be submitted to us within 24 hours after your visit.  We understand that unforeseen circumstances may require a little extra time, but our clients don’t have confidence in the accuracy of a report submitted long after a visit.  Experience has taught us that the most accurate reports are submitted quite promptly.

If something out of the ordinary happens that you feel may affect the acceptance of your shop, please notify us right away by clicking on the envelope icon next to the name of the shop on your shopper dashboard.  Most problems can be resolved easily, and we are happy to help.  It is our goal to help shoppers get every shop accepted, so we can meet our due dates for our clients and build a long-term relationship with a happy shopper!

Welcome Home! A Tour of Your Login Page

Welcome to shopping with EPMS! If you’re new, let’s learn all the things you can find and do with your login. If you’ve been shopping for a while, maybe you will discover something you didn’t know before. In either case, your EPMS profile account is an excellent resource to you with invaluable tools and information. Continue reading “Welcome Home! A Tour of Your Login Page”

Top Skills of Successful Mystery Shoppers


Successful mystery shoppers are the best at what they do because they consistently complete mystery shops. You can read about doing something all day, yet if you do not take the time to apply your skills, you will never gain the real world experience needed to be one of the best. If you work to develop the skills below, you will be come a great mystery shopper!


Love what you do (or at least like it). If you like, or even love what you do, you will want to do more of it. Am I right? The more you like mystery shopping, the more shops you will want to complete. The more mystery shops you successfully complete, the more practice you will get and the better you will be at completing successful shops.

Do not assume anything. What I mean by this is that you should read everything. Do not assume because you have done a similar mystery shop that it will have the same instructions and directions. Remember, there are companies that hire EPMS to have these shops completed. They will have slightly different parameters and information they want gathered for each shop.

EPMS makes it easy to read through each section of instructions and you must mark it as complete before you can submit your shop results for review. This is a good thing, so make sure to read through everything.

Take action! The best way to refine and learn something is to put it into action. In this scenario, this would involve completing mystery shops. Actually log-in to the shopper area and select shops based on your schedule to complete. It can really be this simple if you allow it.

Overall, if you follow these 3 skills, you will definitely become a better mystery shopper than you are right now. Remember, this applies to you whether this is your first or one hundredth shop.

Best Way to Grow Your Mystery Shop Skills

16It does not matter whether you are a new mystery shopper or you have been doing this for years; you can grow your skills at any level of your mystery shopping career.  To be the best at anything, you need to focus and grow your skill set. This takes time and dedication, yet it does not have to take all of your time. If you are strategic and plan accordingly, you can get a lot done in a small amount of time.


The absolute best way to grow your mystery shopper skills is to practice. Actually this is the best way to grow any skills. If you’re only doing one or two shops a year, there is no way you are going to learn the ropes of being a successful mystery shopper. You may be wondering how many shops you should complete per month or year. Well, this truly depends on your schedule and availability.

The ultimate best way is to practice your skills. And the best way to practice your skills is to mystery shop. There are a variety of mystery shops available. You can do apartment shops, restaurant evaluations, hotel shops; the list can go on. Choose the type of mystery shops you like the best, select a reputable mystery shopping company and start shopping!

For apartment shops, EPMS is one of the best companies. They have a variety of apartment shops to choose from along with the ability to select a majority of the available apartment shops to assign to yourself. Remember, you can always decide your schedule of shops based on your own free time. There is no clocking in or out with mystery shopping!

Conducting the Phone Portion of a Shop


There are typically two components to apartment shops and the first starts with a phone call. During with phone call, you will assess the leasing agent’s ability to learn your apartment home needs, share details about the community and apartment amenities, and entice you to visit the community and tour the facilities. This phone call is typically recorded. EPMS will provide a toll free number you will dial and enter a special code unique to that shop.


There will be times where you cannot get a leasing agent on the phone right away and you may need to either call back or in rare cases, leave a message. In those cases, if the leasing agent returns your call, you will need to make an excuse to call them back on the recorded line using the EPMS toll free number. With most apartment shops, you will either be assigned a specific leasing agent to call or you will have the opportunity to shop any agent that answers the phone.

Either way, it is up to you as a shopper to allow the leasing agent to do their best. Try not to lead the call as it is the leasing agent’s job to ask you questions and inspire you to take a tour. The phone shop must be completed prior to taking the in person tour, which you will always say yes to when and if it is offered by the leasing agent. Once you’ve completed a couple of phone assessments, you will see how easy they really are.  Do not worry and remember to allow the leasing agent the best opportunity to be successful!

3 Keys to Being a Successful Shopper

54Becoming a successful mystery shopper is simple, yet you must focus on three basic keys to make this happen.

#1: Know What You Are Looking For

Make sure to read through all of the instructions for each apartment mystery shop. Although all of the apartment mystery shops are listed on the same EPMS site, the apartment or property management companies who hire them may have different requirements.

Therefore, no matter how long you have been completing mystery shops, remember to read and take notes for each section of the shop requirements before completing the shop.

 #2: Stay Objective

Following tip number 1 will help you stay objective because you will know what is required of you and not worry if you are completing the shop correctly. This will allow you to stay calm and focused, giving the staff member ample opportunity to show you they are great at their job. You will then be prepared to create an accurate report for the mystery shopping company to submit to their client. The more focused and calm you are, the better the leasing associate can shine; it is a team effort!

 #3: Be On Time

Make sure that you arrive to complete the in person shop on time; before the leasing associate takes the last potential resident before closing. Always check with the leasing office as this is usually 30 minutes to an hour before the actual closing time. Being on time also applies to submitting your supporting documents (i.e. business card, brochure, etc) and the shop report by the due date. This should typically happen within 24 hours of completing the shop.

Overall, if you follow these three keys, you will be golden.

3 Tips to Find Shops Near You


Mystery shopping is becoming a popular way to make extra money.  This is due in large part to the fact that it is a flexible and fun option for added income. However, there may be times times you log in to the EPMS website, excited to complete a couple of apartment mystery shops, only to find there are none available near you.  Here are three tips to help you successfully locate shops near the places you live, work or travel.

#1: Expand Your Search

A shop search is typically linked to your zip code. You can find the zip code search box in the top left-hand corner of your profile page after clicking on the link titled “I want to see shop contracts near me.” You can expand this search by entering a zip code for the area you may be traveling to, in or out of state, to see if any shops are listed. For example, if your daytime job is located within another zip code, you could take note of that zip code and enter it into the mystery shop zip code search window. Alternately, when you may be traveling to visit your home town or family, you can use the zip code of the house or hotel you are staying in during that time to find available shops. You can also use the ‘Distance’ bar right about the zip code box to increase the distance that you are willing to travel within that zip code area. Of course, if you see any available shops, you should act fast and request them. This tip works really well if you are traveling to less popular cities or where mystery shopping is not as well known.

 #2: Complete Phone Only Shops

Check the phone shop tab from your main profile page. It is located right next to the ‘In Person Visit Required’ tab. Under the ‘Phone’ tab, you will find phone only shops to complete. The phone shops usually require less of a time commitment and the forms do not take very long to complete. There is a certain number of in-person shops you are required to complete before you can begin to request phone only shops, so get to work!

 # 3: Add Yourself as a Backup Shopper

Do not be afraid to click the backup shopper button when a shop that is really close to you is taken. I have received several shops this way.  It would not hurt to try and if the other person cannot complete the shop, it is yours! Don’t worry;  you will be given the same amount of time to complete the mystery shop if you become the primary shopper, so no rushing is needed.

All of the above tips may not work all of the time, but they will give you more options when staring at a blank page of available shops.


Entering the Dead Zone

56 When an employee does not provide the information needed to complete a shop; I call this the dead zone.

As a mystery shopper, you should write down all the requirements needed to complete the telephone shop. When you conduct the conversation, you may notice your frustration building or find yourself tapping your fingers on the desk while you wait for the employee to provide certain information.Instead of receiving the information needed for your telephone shop, you are faced with those three long seconds of silence, which seem more like ten long minutes.

So, what are you going to do when an employee refuses to provide the information needed to complete a shop? There are a couple of tips you can utilize to get the information needed on those dead zone telephone calls.

One tip is asking the target if there is anything else he or she can tell you about that particular apartment, loan, or whatever type of shop you are performing. Asking a general question to explain more about the process or about the apartment helps the targeted employee provide more information without you directly asking for this data.

Another tip is asking if there is any other information a person needs to know before making an appointment to meet with them. If the person still does not provide the information required, be sure you check with the website’s instructions or contact customer service if they did not provide the information you need.

Most shops only require that you record what information you received, but be prepared to come across those occasional dead zone calls.

Ergonomic Proof Your Hands!

Ergonomic Proof Your HandsPerforming a couple of hours each month as a mystery shopper can earn you a couple of hundred of dollars each month. However, in any work environment, you need to remember to take precautions for safety and protect your well being.

Taking a few minutes to learn how to adjust to a good ergonomics work station can help protect strained muscle pain in your hands, neck, or back. Since typing on the computer comprises of a high percentage of time for mystery shoppers, there are several ergonomic tips from experts that a worker can utilize to prevent strain.

First tip is to remember to take several breaks away from the computer regularly to allow your hands, neck, and back to relax. Also remember to do hand stretches when typing for long periods of time and apply a soft touch to the computer keyboard. There are also numerous computer hand rests for your computer that you can purchase to prevent any unnecessary bent wrists or awkward positions of your hands which will support your arms while typing your reports.

For preventative back and neck strains, you can invest in padded seats or backrests for chairs. Ensure you find a comfortable chair that allows your legs to rest comfortably and is lower than your desk. In addition, take a few minutes daily to adjust your computer screen monitor and place it directly in front of your body, and ensure the height of the screen is at your eye level so that neck strains do not occur.

These simple preventative ergonomic tips will help you reduce any wrist, eye strain, neck or back neck pain and allow you to earn that extra cash!

Overwhelmed With Paperwork?

Overwhelmed with paperwork2016 has begun and if you work as a mystery shopper, you will discover that most employers classify you as an independent contractor. An independent contractor is considered self-employed and requires you to keep track of all your paperwork like your income, expenses, and taxes.

Hopefully during the year, you organized all your paperwork for easy tax filing. If you did not organize your files during the year, there is no need to panic or feel overwhelmed with finding all the paperwork in time for tax season.


If you start taking small steps between now and April, you should be well prepared to file your taxes on time. You should remember that not every mystery shopper site may send you an end of the year W-4 tax form, especially if you only work a couple of times for an employer. If you take note of all your present employers or print out your work histories during the last year, then you are almost done with your paperwork. If you want to keep this filing system simple, then one or two file folders should suffice.

You can also insert a separate colored sheet or tab between each job within your file folder, or notebook, or use a ledger to record the employers, amounts earned, and expenses incurred. Be sure you save your receipts and place them in the notebook pocket or somewhere where you can readily find them. If you are more computer literate, there are many software systems that can be used to record amounts earned and employer names, but you still would need a file to save all expenses. In just a couple of hours or so, you can be tax ready for the April filing deadline.