RECEIVING SHOP CONTRACTS

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

Once you have completed the online shopper application, independent contractor agreement, and shopper tutorial, you may log in to search for shop contracts in your area under the Available Shops tab and assign shop contracts to yourself.

WHERE IS THE SHOPPER TUTORIAL?

After you sign up as a shopper and log into your Ellis Mystery Shopper account, you can find the Tutorial under the My Account tab at the top of the page. The tutorial is all done online and takes about 45 minutes to complete. You must complete it all in one sitting, so be sure you allow plenty of time because you can only attempt to complete the tutorial once every 24 hours.

WHEN ARE SHOP CONTRACTS RELEASED?

Ellis releases many mystery shop contracts on the first day of the month. However, you can check the Ellis website daily for available shop contracts as we release new shop contracts and update the list of available shop contracts often.

HOW MANY SHOPS CAN I DO?

Ellis allows new shoppers to assign a maximum of 4 shop contracts at a time. The self-assign limit may be increased or decreased over time, based on your timeliness, quality, and accuracy of reports. Mystery shopping for Ellis is very part-time, as available contract work. There is no guarantee of available shop contracts. If a shop contract is available in which you are interested but you are at your self-assignment limit, email an Ellis scheduler.

HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR A SHOP CONTRACT?

You can self-assign most shop contracts on the Ellis website by logging into your shopper account, viewing available shop contracts and selecting the one(s) you want to complete. Please do not call the Ellis office to request shop contracts. If you have any questions regarding scheduling an Ellis mystery shop contract, email an Ellis scheduler.

For our audio and video onsite recorded shop contracts, you may assign the shop contract on the Ellis Partners website, and someone will contact you regarding renting and delivery of equipment if you do not have your own. There is a separate Video shopper tutorial for contractors who wish to complete video shop contracts. If you have any questions about conducting audio and video onsite recorded shop contracts, email our Ellis A/V scheduler.

CAN I BE A BACKUP SHOPPER?

If a shop contract has been already been selected by another shopper, you still have the opportunity to sign up as a backup shopper. If the primary shopper cancels, the backup shopper will immediately become the primary shopper.

A notification will be sent to the backup shopper indicating the change. This confirmation must be accepted or declined. If you do not respond to Ellis to accept the shop contract, it will then be offered to another shopper.

I CAN'T FIND AVAILABLE SHOPS

If you have already completed a shop contract at the location in the last 18 – 24 months, then you will not be able to view the available shop contract. If you have completed other shop contracts for the same client recently, you also may not be able to view the available shop contract. If the shop contract has already been assigned and another shopper has selected to be the backup shopper, then the shop contract would no longer be visible. If you still have questions about an email you received on an available shop contract, email an Ellis scheduler.

VIEWING SHOPS IN A DIFFERENT AREA

Once you log into your Ellis independent contractor mystery shopper account, under the Available Shops tab you can search for shop contracts within a specific radius of any valid zip code. Select the desired radius from the drop down menu and fill the desired zip code in the text box.

Do NOT change your zip code in your profile information under My Account in order to view additional shop contracts, as this will result in failure to receive any mailed correspondence from Ellis and could prevent you from receiving appropriate notifications of available shop contracts.

SHOP CONTRACT ELIGIBILITY

CAN I WORK FOR AN APARTMENT COMMUNITY AND BE A SHOPPER?

Yes, but you CANNOT accept shop contracts at communities that are managed or owned by a company for whom you or a close friend or relative currently are or previously were employed. Shoppers should list any such management companies in their profile when registering with Ellis online.

CAN I MOVE TO THE APARTMENT I SHOP?

Yes, it is okay to shop a community where you might consider leasing as long as you do not identify yourself as a mystery shopper at any point AND you do not agree to lease at any point during the completion of the shop contract.

Once your shop contract is completed, your report has been submitted, and the follow-up period of at least 5 days from the date of the on-site shop has expired, shoppers can lease at a community they completed a shop contract on. Remember, shoppers need to be extra careful not to reveal their shopper identity or they will risk losing the opportunity to perform future shop contracts.

CAN I SHOP A COMMUNITY WHERE I HAVE PREVIOUSLY LIVED?

If a shopper has ever lived at a community they are ineligible to accept a shop contract for that community. Shoppers who previously lived at a community risk being remembered by the staff, which could create a scenario where the agent is not given the opportunity to succeed based on the management company’s expectations.

CAN I SHOP A COMMUNITY I'VE PREVIOUSLY SHOPPED?

No. If you have done a shop on ANY agent at a particular community either for Ellis or for another company in the last 18 – 24 months then you cannot accept a shop contract for that property again until at least 18 months has passed.

CAN I GO WITH A FRIEND TO SHOP A PROPERTY I'VE PREVIOUSLY VISITED?

No. Shoppers may not accompany another person as their guest on a shop if they have already personally shopped the community in the last 18-24 months as it could jeopardize the shop contract. Shoppers are ineligible to accepts a shop contract for a property they have already visited as a guest within the same time period.

MY SHOPPER ACCOUNT

MY ACCOUNT IS INACTIVATED

An Ellis team member should attempt to contact you if your account is inactivated. Common reasons for unannounced inactivation are an incorrect email address on file that results in bounced-back correspondence or failure to log in or perform shop contracts for a period of time. These two scenarios can be rectified (in most cases) and your account reactivated. You can contact support@epmsonline.com to learn the reason for your inactivation and request reactivation.

I NEED TO CHANGE MY CONTACT INFO

Please log in to your Ellis shopper account and provide us with your new contact information. Once you change your address you will be able to view shop contracts in your new location. Keep your email address current, as this is the primary way Ellis communicates with mystery shoppers. Although shop contract payments are made via direct deposit, please update your mailing address and telephone contact information as needed, as there are cases when we contact shoppers by phone or mail.

VIEWING AND PRINTING SHOP FORM

You need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer in order to download, view, and print shopping report forms. If you do not already have this program installed on your computer, it can be downloaded for FREE from the Adobe website.

Although most of our shopping reports are now submitted online, we still recommend shoppers review the report form before beginning each shop contract.

HOW DO I REPORT FOLLOW-UP?

When you log into your independent contractor mystery shopper account any shop contracts that are awaiting follow-up to be reported will be listed on the shopper homepage. Shoppers report Yes or No to all three types of follow-up (Telephone, Mail, and Email) for each shop contract that includes an on-site visit.

Shoppers generally report all follow-up as soon as it is received, and if no follow-up is received after 4 days they are able to report a No answer. If for some reason you cannot use the follow-up links on your shopper homepage, you can email follow-up information to followup@epmsonline.com.

WHAT IF I MAKE AN ERROR ON THE FORM?

If you make a mistake when reporting follow-up, update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage for the shop, email followup@epmsonline.com, or call the Ellis office immediately so that we can make a correction in our system.

MY SHOP CONTRACTS ARE NOT ACCEPTED

We receive and check in a number of shop contract documents every day. Please allow 3-5 business days (Monday – Friday) for Ellis to accept / check-in your shopping report.

If you are at your shop contract limit but want to sign up for more shop contracts, email an Ellis scheduler and we will review and respond to your request.

HOW DO I CLOSE MY ACCOUNT?

If you no longer want to complete any shop contracts and do not want to be contacted by Ellis, you can email support@epmsonline.com to have your account closed. If you change your mind, you can request the account be reopened later by contacting us.

CURRENT SHOP CONTRACTS

WHAT DOES REASSIGN MEAN?

If your shop is in Reassign, it means that Ellis has been trying to reach you about your shop contract but has not received a response from you. If you have responded by email, try updating Ells via the envelope icon beside the shop contract on your shopper homepage. If this fails, you can call the Ellis office.

If we do not receive a response within 24 hours once the shop contract is placed in Reassign, it will be unassigned from you and assigned to another shopper.

WHAT IS MISSING INFORMATION STATUS?

If Ellis has a question about your shopping report, we will contact you and place your shop in Missing Information status. Please respond to us as soon as possible with the requested information. If your shop has been “rejected” to you, you will be able to access the report online to correct any problems. Otherwise you will need to reply directly to the email you received from Ellis with the requested information.

WHAT CONTRACTS ARE ASSIGNED TO ME?

When you log into your Ellis Mystery Shopper account, all of the shops you have currently contracted to complete are listed on your homepage. If you see a “B” icon beside the shop contract, you are only a back-up shopper at this time, so do not attempt to complete that particular shop contract until you receive notification you have been promoted to the primary shopper and have confirmed acceptance of the assignment.

HOW DO I GET AN EXTENSION?

To request your due date be postponed for any reason, update Ellis via the envelope icon for the appropriate shop contract on your shopper homepage and provide the reason why you need an extension.

Please notify Ellis as soon as you realize that an extension is needed. A team member will respond to your request within 24 hours M-F. Please allow extra time for a response if you submit the request over a weekend.

CAN I CANCEL MY SHOP CONTRACT?

Yes. You can cancel most shop contracts by clicking on the red “X” icon beside the shop on your shopper homepage. You will be asked provide a reason for the cancellation. If you are assigned to an onsite audio or video recorded shop contract, you will need to update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage for the shop contract in order to request the cancellation.

CONTRACT PAYMENT

WHEN WILL I GET PAID?

Ellis pays independent contractor shoppers once per month by direct deposit/ACH. If your shop is received and accepted by Ellis by the 7th, the payment for that shop contract will be added to that period.

Electronic payments that are processed on the 7th are deposited to a bank/card account on the 22nd of each month (or on the following business day if a weekend or holiday). If a shop contract payment is not received, contact Ellis.

HOW DO I GET PAID?

Ellis does not offer paper checks as a payment option. We pay via direct deposit/ACH. Returned ACH payments will incur a $10 reprocessing fee.

AM I AN ELLIS EMPLOYEE?

No. Shoppers are not Ellis employees. You work as an independent contractor, must agree to our Independent Contractor agreement before you can accept shop contracts, and are responsible for paying your own taxes and insurance, etc. Ellis independent contractor mystery shoppers are not guaranteed future work or a specified amount of work.

HOW MUCH DOES ELLIS PAY FOR A SHOP?

The shop contract payment depends on the specifications of the shop contract. You will always be able to see the shop contract specifications before you choose to accept a shop contract.

HOW DO I SEE PAYMENTS?

Once you log into your Ellis Mystery Shopper account, you can view your Shop History. If a shop contract payment has been made, you will be able to see the date the payment was processed. We will only reissue payment provided the amount has not cleared our bank account.

WHY WAS MY PAY DEDUCTED?

Ellis mystery shops are paid on a contract basis when the shop contract is fully completed. To avoid any deductions, independent contractors must adhere to the client’s shop contract specifications and ensure the shop is completed correctly and on time.

If you have questions about a specific deduction, you can contact us here.

CALLING THE COMMUNITY

CAN THE LEASING AGENT CALL ME BACK?

It is okay to allow them to call you back, but if the shop requires a recorded call, a shopper will ‘miss’ the call or end it right away with an excuse, then call the property again shortly afterwards and conduct the telephone shop. Shoppers can ask for their target when they call the community back since they have already spoken to them.

IS IT OKAY TO LEAVE A MESSAGE?

If you have called several times and have not reached a live person, it is acceptable to leave a message if the shop contract specifications indicate it is a “Shop Anyone” shop. We strongly recommend shoppers not leave a message if they are trying to reach a specific agent or “Anyone BUT” certain agents. Instead, we recommend you update Ellis via the envelope for the shop on your shopper homepage, and we will advise you further.

DO I GIVE MY REAL NAME AND PHONE NUMBER WHEN I CALL?

No, shoppers may give a false name and false telephone number when they complete the telephone presentation AFTER they have already visited the community. The agent is typically not expected to follow-up with shoppers based on the call but rather on the site visit. On-site you are expected to give contact information that will enable the agent to reach you for follow-up.

I'M SUPPOSED TO SHOP M-F. CAN I CALL ON THE WEEKEND?

No. If the shop contract specifications state the shop is Monday-Friday, then both the call and the site visit should be conducted on those days.

WHAT IF MY TARGET DOES NOT ANSWER?

You can have a friend call ahead of you and tie up the person who keeps answering the phone. Then place the second call while the first call is still ongoing, thus forcing someone else to pick up the phone line.

If you continue to have this problem over the course of several days, please update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage so we can give further suggestions.

WHAT IF SOMEONE ELSE IS SCHEDULED TO HELP ME WHEN I VISIT?

We recommend you not go to the property at the agreed upon time if your target said they definitely would not be available. You can reconnect with them briefly by phone at a later date and confirm they will be there before going out. If this happens, shoppers will update us via the envelope icon for that particular shop contract on their shopper homepage so we can note our records accordingly and adjust the due date if needed.

WHAT IF I CAN'T REACH MY TARGET BY PHONE?

If you cannot reach your target agent via phone following Ellis’ recommendations in the shop contract specifications, please update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage.

THE LEASING AGENT DID NOT GIVE THEIR NAME

If the agent does not give a name when they answer the telephone, but they are the same gender as your target, we recommend you briefly get into the conversation with them and then state something like, “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch your name.” If it is not your target, you can make an excuse to end the call.

WILL CALLER ID SHOW MY NAME AND NUMBER?

Yes. If the shop is not a recorded call, you can dial *67 before dialing the community to block the Caller ID information. If the shop contract includes a recorded call component, then your information is blocked automatically from being transmitted to the community.

VISITING THE COMMUNITY

WHAT IF I CAN'T GET A BUSINESS CARD?

You can ask the agent if they can write down their name for you so you know who to ask for if you have any questions or need to call back.

CAN I WAIT TO SUBMIT MY REPORT UNTIL THE AGENT FOLLOWS UP?

Ellis needs your report right away, so the information is as fresh as possible. We recommend shoppers do not hold the report waiting on follow-up since follow-up will be reported separately through your shopper account after the shop report has been submitted. In addition, as part of the follow up evaluation of the shop, you cannot submit a “no” for follow up until 4 days after completion of the shop.

CAN I SHOP ON MY LUNCH BREAK?

Yes. Shoppers simply need to allow adequate time to perform the shop not rush the leasing professional.

WHAT IF I GET PASSED OFF TO SOMEONE ELSE WHEN I GET THERE?

Shoppers will attempt to shop the right person by asking for their target when they arrive. If the shop contract is a “Shop Anyone”, the person with whom you spoke on the telephone becomes the target for the on-site visit.

IF THE COMMUNITY ACCEPTS PETS, CAN I SAY I HAVE A PET?

Although a community accepts pets, they may have restrictions and may only accept certain breeds, weights, etc. We recommend that you state you have NO PETS to make sure you do not get disqualified from the shop since pet policies vary from one community to another.

DO I HAVE TO ASK ABOUT FAIR HOUSING AND SECURITY?

For most shops, it is optional to ask Fair Housing and security questions. Check the shop contract specifications to see how our client wants those questions handled for each particular shop contract you accept.

DO I GIVE MY REAL NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION WHEN I VISIT?

Yes, providing your real name and contact information is important.  In most cases, the leasing professional will require that you provide your driver’s license.  In addition, they are going to ask for your telephone number, mailing and email address because they are required to follow up with you after your visit has completed.  These follow actions are part of the evaluation of the leasing professional’s performance so please make sure you provide current information.  We do not want the evaluation of the leasing professional being penalized because incorrect information was given.