Mystery Shopping Choices

To Record or NOT to record

Mystery shopping has expanded over the years. There are many types of mystery shops and many ways in which to conduct the shops. As we as a country become more technologically savvy, more options for recordings are available. So, the big question for you is to record or NOT to record.

When selecting mystery shops, please take note of whether recordings are required or not. The shop instructions will inform you if it is a recorded shop and what type of recording. It is a best practice NOT to record shops that are NOT listed as being recorded in the project offering from the Mystery Shopping Company. The MSC may not have approved recordings for that property, and it may be against the law to record them without their consent depending on where the property is located.

For onsite shops that require a recording, you should start your recording when you are exiting your vehicle/mode of transport and end the recording when you return to your vehicle/mode of transportation. Most people use their phones for audio shops using a recording application. The recording will need to be submitted with your report. Pro tip: Listen to the recording as you are completing your report to help you accurately relay the information gathered during your visit. For video shops, you can use the Mystery Media Pro App or another video recording smart app, where you can video shop with your smartphone.

Tips for recorded shops:

  • Use the bathroom BEFORE you get to the location you are shopping.
  • Remember to pause the recording if you have to go to the bathroom during a recorded shop.
  • Do a test recording at home to ensure you can hear, and if a video shop you can see, the agent.
  • Make sure your phone (or DVR) is fully charged so the recording will not stop/end unexpectedly.
  • Use airplane mode when using your phone to record to ensure the recording is not interrupted.

Why record, you ask? Recorded shops pay a higher rate than non-recorded shops. You are out making visits anyway; you get paid more for the same amount of travel and time you would have spent on the non-recorded shops. Plus, you always have your phone! Work smarter not harder for your extra cash when mystery shopping!

Tips for navigating mystery shopping assignments

Apartment mystery shopping can be an easy way to make extra cash, travel, and have fun! These are some tips that can help you complete a mystery shop.

  • Read the client’s shop requirements thoroughly
    • Make sure you meet and adhere to the requirements (e.g., student age for student shop, senior age for senior shop, specific timing, agent to shop, etc.)
  • Reach out for help using the white envelope on your dashboard for the shop contract when you have questions
  • Remember when you call the property, you should be in a quiet area without a lot of background noise
  • Research the property online first to see the office hours, then cross reference it with the client’s shop requirements to make sure you are following the allowable times/days
  • Research the area to see if there are multiple shops you can accomplish
    • You may can get a route bonus based on the number of shops are the area in which you select- ask your scheduler using the white envelope
  • Remember your ID! You can NOT tour without one
  • Be patient and friendly
  • Remember the deadlines- your report and all backup and required recordings should be completed and turned in no later than 24 hours after your visit unless otherwise directed by the client’s shop instructions
  • Report all follow up after the shop using your shopper dashboard. You can email [email protected] if you receive follow-up after you reported no to follow-up via the online portal.
  • Remember that shops must be completed, with reports, backup and recordings submitted and accepted before the 7th to be paid on the 22nd.

There are also some things you should avoid in order to be successful when apartment mystery shopping:

  • Do NOT ever reveal yourself as a shopper
    • If you feel that the agent knows you are a shopper please report it using the white envelope
  • Do NOT reuse the same shopper story over and over; try something new
  • Do NOT use different names for the phone call and the on-site visit UNLESS otherwise directed by the client’s shop instructions

These tips will help you to navigate apartment mystery shops. Remember, you are an integral part of the customer service experience and your feedback is valued. However, to ensure that your report is accepted and received by the customer, try these tips to increase your chances for success!

Apartment Mystery Shopping in Memphis

Deep in the heart of the Mid-South lies the city of Memphis.  The largest city on the Mississippi River, Memphis holds something for everyone!  Memphis is one of the top destinations in the US for music lovers.  Of course, the most famous Memphian was Elvis Presley.  His Graceland home in south Memphis is open for tours.  Elvis, Johnny Cash and BB King recorded some of their most famous albums at Memphis’s Sun Studio.  Beale Street in Downtown Memphis is famous for its blues clubs.  Other music attractions include the Rock ‘n Soul Museum, and the Blues Hall of Fame. 

While you are downtown, drop into the Peabody Hotel, home of the World-Famous Peabody Ducks.  Every day from 11 AM to 5 PM, the ducks swim in the fountain in the lobby of the hotel.  They are fun to watch any time of day but try to catch the beginning or end of their “workday” as they march to John Phillip Sousa music into the elevator, to and from their rooftop home.

After all of this sightseeing, you will be hungry!  Memphis is the barbecue capital of the world!  You will find sensational barbecue available on almost every corner, from walkup counters to the acclaimed Corky’s and Rendezvous.  Pork ribs are the local specialty.  If you are eating a pulled pork sandwich, we recommend you order it “Memphis Style” which means the coleslaw is served on the sandwich rather than on the side.

Memphis and its suburbs make up a very robust apartment market.  Why not take a bit of time during your visit to do some apartment mystery shops?  Wherever you find yourself in the area, you will likely find apartment communities just waiting to be shopped.  There are often shopping opportunities available in Memphis, as well as many surrounding towns including Collierville, Germantown, Bartlett and Cordova, TN.  The adjacent states often have shops available in West Memphis, AR, and Southaven, Horn Lake and Hernando, MS.  All of these areas a close by and a few shops would only take a few hours of your visit.  Why not earn some spending money to defray some of the cost of your trip to Memphis?  Apartment mystery shopping can also provide a glimpse into what it would be like to live in the area.  You might even find your own next home in the process.

If you would like help in plotting out a route of shops around Memphis or any other area, email [email protected]

Time flies and so does your money. Why not make more? Apartment Mystery Shopping is the Answer!

Phone is ringing. New texts incoming. Aunt Rhonda says she is going to make it for Holiday dinner after all. Jake is bringing home his new significant other from college. You didn’t order enough groceries and you now need additional gifts under the tree. Things are getting hectic! It’s the holiday season. Unexpected expenses are going to happen. We are here to help!

Apartment mystery shopping is a convenient way to get paid while you are completing your holiday tasks! Just like you can outline stores and shopping areas you could at the same time look at what shops are available in the same area. Register at with a quick and easy 2-minute registration process. Then begin searching what’s available in your area. You choose what works for you.

Going to pick up a curbside order at 3PM? Great! You could have time to call and visit an apartment community nearby before heading to the pickup location. Heading out for last minute gifts? Take time to see if above and/or by the retail area there are apartment mystery shops available. There are many shops available that allow same day call and visit!

Shops that are completed and accepted by Ellis as of the 7th of any month will be paid by ACH on approximately the 22nd of the same month.  Pay off your Christmas credit card or store card spending in time to use those coupons for January sales!

Remember that the holidays shouldn’t be stressful, so have some fun and make some money instead of spending it. Apartment mystery shops are available and waiting for you! You can search by type of shop, base pay of shop, bonus pay of shop and distance from you on our data base after your quick, easy registration.

Most shops require a call and a visit. See the shop instructions and the specific instructions for additional details. If you have questions, we are here to help! Just click on the white envelope and send one of our team members a message. They will respond to you.

Once you complete the call and visit, there is an online report to be completed. You will upload your back up documentation (e.g., business card, floor plan, fee sheet) as well. After that, you wait for acceptance and then your pay day!

Apartment mystery shopping is flexible and offers you an opportunity to make extra cash without committing to something long term. This is a great way to help finance holiday festivities on your terms. Happy (apartment) shopping!

Jingle all the way

You know what else besides sleigh bells jingles? Your pockets when you apartment mystery shop with Ellis!

The holidays seem to approach faster each and every year. You can find stores that already offer decorations on sale for Christmas. Black Friday shopping after Thanksgiving is a great time for deals on décor and presents! The one thing you need to participate in early holiday shopping is the one thing we can help you with: extra money in your pocket. Choose the apartment mystery shopping experience that works best for you!

Telephone shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment.

Virtual tour shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment and agree to take a virtual tour either immediately or at an agreed upon time with the leasing professional you are speaking with on the phone.

Advanced virtual tour with video shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment and agree to take a virtual tour right then or at an agreed upon time with the leasing professional you are speaking with on the phone and you video record the virtual tour.

Telephone On-Site shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment and agree to an on-site appointment with the person you are speaking with on the phone at a scheduled time. You go in person to the property and take a tour with the leasing professional.

Telephone On-Site with audio recording shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment and agree to an on-site appointment with the person you are speaking with on the phone at a scheduled time. You go in person to the property and take a tour with the leasing professional while you are recording the tour.  You can use an app on Google Play Store for Android phones. You can also utilize your current voice recording feature on your phone.

Telephone On-Site with video recording shops: You call and pretend you are interested in an apartment and agree to an on-site appointment with the person you are speaking with on the phone at a scheduled time. You go in person to the property and take a tour with the leasing professional while you are video recording the tour. You can use the Mystery Media Pro app available on the Apple store if you have an iPhone. For Android users, you can look for a video recorder that allows you to record with a setting to keep your phone from interrupting the video recording.  You can also use your current video recorder on your phone but change the settings from high to low resolution.

The more steps and more complex an apartment mystery shop is, the more they pay! Apartment mystery shops are a fun, easy way to get that jingle in your pocket. All that jingle, all the way!

Register or login at to see what is available in your area. There are apartment mystery shops available in every state! New apartment mystery shops are released throughout the day, every day.

Apartment Mystery Shopping: Oh no! I have to do what?

Apartment mystery shopping is a balance between providing a customer’s authentic experience with a leasing professional and that property while maintaining a “real” customer story for the leasing professional. Things to remember when conducting apartment mystery shops:

  • The leasing professional’s name: if you repeat it or use it a lot- they will know you are a shopper
  • Using industry terms: traffic source, urgency and amenities are a few of the words that tip off you are a shopper
  • Refusing to give contact information: that also can alert a leasing professional you are a shopper
    • A real customer can easily give a name, phone number and an email address
    • If the apartment mystery shop requires an on-site visit, you can use a nickname, a middle name or a play on your name such as initials for your name- remember they will ask for an ID so the name has to be similar to the ID
      • You can also use that you recently got divorced or married and that your last name has changed
    • Email addresses are readily available and free on the Internet, so create several
    • Phone numbers- there are Google voice numbers you can, for free, register for online
    • ALL on-site shops require VALID contact information!
    • Caveat for phone ONLY apartment mystery shops (where you don’t go in-person to the property): unless otherwise required to give valid information per the instructions, you can give a fake name, number and email address for those as only the phone portion is being conducted
      • If you are not sure if your shop requires valid contact information, reach out to our staff using the white envelope
  • Your story should be believable
    • Make sure the reason for moving you give could be believed by another person
    • Make sure you are dressed accordingly for on-site apartment mystery shops based on the property itself- a quick Google of the property should assist you with this AND sometimes on the property or shop instructions it will provide information that you can use
    • If you are shopping for another person (e.g., student shop- a mother for a daughter; senior shop- a daughter for a mother): make sure you easily have a story to give with their name and contact information, in the event it is inquired about
  • Let the leasing professional lead the interaction
    • You should not be asking them questions, they should be giving you the information without prompting
    • If they are not leading the interaction, that is OK! Their management wants to know that which is why they ordered the shop in the first place.
    • Go with the flow and NEVER rush a shop

Every apartment mystery shop will be a different experience. However, these helpful tips can assist you with making the process easier!

Apartment Mystery Shopping: Work Smarter not Harder

There are several strategies that you can use to make your apartment mystery shopping experience easier to report and get accepted.

Recorded shops

Did you know that recorded shops, whether it is over the phone or at the property, offer you help when you are completing your report? Once the call and/or visit are recorded, listening to that recording can help you complete your report accurately, without having the stress of remembering what happened with the shop. Conducting recorded apartment mystery shops is a way to ease your stress of having to remember and in some cases, provides additional proof that you completed your shop. Tips for recorded shops:

  • Start your audio or video recording before leaving your car
  • State the property name and/or shop number as well as the date and time
  • Remember to not shut the recording off until you have reached your car again
  • For video (camera) recordings, make sure you have a good angle for the camera
    • Try it out at home before going to see what the angle is recording and if you can hear the audio as well
    • Try a sitting and standing position to help evaluate if it is a good angle
  • Do not constantly touch the camera- once it is angled appropriately, leave it

Back up documentation

Back up documentation is another way you can reduce the stress of getting your report accepted. Back up documentation would be floor plans, pictures of the property sign and/or of the apartment or amenities, pictures of the “We will return sign” that are date and time stamped for multiple times you were waiting, business cards, fee sheets or any other documentation where the leasing professional has written their name or made handwritten notes on.

  • Do remember that photos of staff members and/or residents are not acceptable back up documentation
  • Also, if you are completing a non-recorded shop, an audio recording is also not considered acceptable as the recording can not be sent with the report
  • Go ahead an upload your back up documents prior to filling out the report so you don’t forget to include them

Avoiding distractions

Another way to make your apartment mystery shopping experience easier is to avoid as many distractions as possible. Try to make calls is a quiet environment without loud talking, loud TV or radio, etc. Also, try to complete the shop without taking additional people with you. Other distractions can include squeezing in a bunch of shops with back-to-back times may make you feel anxious and then less focused on the shop you should currently be engaged with. When completing the report, again, listen to the audio to help you complete the report, if it is a recorded shop. If it is a non-recorded shop, try to complete the report the same day you visited so you can best remember what happened.

These strategies are intended to help reduce the stress of shop completion and increase your accuracy.

Apartment Mystery Shopping in Beautiful New England

As summer temperatures begin to cool, we look for ways to welcome the coming of fall.  The green of summer is beginning to turn into the brilliant colors of autumn.  Bring on the Halloween and harvest decorations and all things Pumpkin Spice!  There is no better place to celebrate fall than in New England!

Some of the most beautiful fall leaf colors can be found in the state of New Hampshire.  Franconia Notch features a 1.5-mile hike called Artist’s Bluff.  It is a relatively easy hike and will reward you with some of the most beautiful views in New England.  The Kankamangus Highway is a 34.5 mile scenic byway which will take you through some of the most spectacular fall foliage in the White Mountains. 

Massachusetts is also known for fall beauty and fun.  Those looking for a road trip to Western Massachusetts will enjoy Mt. Greylock State Reservation.  The summit of the mountain provides a panoramic view of 5 states.  On a clear day, visitors can see up to 60 miles of colorful trees.   If you prefer to stay near Boston, you will still find plenty of scenic color to enjoy.  Boston Commons features oak, maple, and beech trees that erupt into color every fall.  The town of Concord hold both history and scenic wonders.  It is home to the Concord Bridge, Minute Man National Historic Park, and literature’s famous Walden Pond. 

While you are visiting the area, why not take a little time for Ellis apartment mystery shopping?  We have lots of shops available in many areas throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts.  In New Hampshire, apartment mystery shops are available in areas such as Portsmouth, Lebanon, Manchester, and Salem.  In Massachusetts, we have apartment mystery shopping opportunities in Boston, Salem, Gloucester, Weymouth and many other areas.  Perhaps you could do a mystery shop in the morning before sightseeing in the afternoon?  Devoting one day of a mini vacation to apartment mystery shopping could defray a good part of the cost of your getaway.  If you would like help in plotting a route of shops in New England or any other area, please contact your scheduler or login to your shopper account and search for open apartment mystery shopping opportunities in any zip code. 

Whether you are apartment mystery shopping in your home neighborhood or venturing afar, feedback from shoppers helps apartment managers improve their leasing presentations and the overall customer experience.

Mystery Shopping in the Beautiful Pacific Northwest

There are few areas of North America more beautiful than the Pacific Northwest.  Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the Cascades Mountains, the area between Everett and Tumwater, WA includes the metropolitan areas of Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia.  Interstate 5 runs the length of the state of Washington, connecting those cities from north to south. 

Apartments Everywhere!

With so much natural beauty and temperate weather, it is no wonder the Pacific Northwest is one of the most robust apartment markets in the country.  EPMS has apartment mystery shops available throughout this area, with more shopping opportunities being added every day.  If you live in the area or are visiting, a road trip along Interstate 5 would take you past countless apartment communities where we have available shops. 

Is the Mountain Out?

It might be nice to enjoy a little natural sightseeing during a day of mystery shopping.  If the weather is clear, you may find that “the mountain is out,” meaning Mount Rainier can be seen through the fog and clouds.  There are numerous spots along the highway that offer great views.  On the clearest days, Mount Rainer can be seen from as far south as Portland, OR.  If you are traveling from north to south, a good turnaround point may be Tumwater Falls Park, just off Interstate 5 at exit 103 in Tumwater, WA.  Tumwater Falls Park offers an .9-mile loop walking trail.  It is an easy trail and is open year-round.  The park also has restrooms and good parking.   Visitors will enjoy historic foot bridges and see the 82 foot drop of the Deschutes River into Capitol Lake. 

Coffee Anyone?

In addition to its matchless scenic beauty, the Pacific Northwest is the capital of coffee culture.  If you have finished your onsite visits for your shops, a stop for coffee may be a nice break.  There are countless local, independent coffee shops, which are part of the Seattle culture.  Why not make it part of your day to visit an old favorite, or find a new one that you love.  If you’d like a bit of a coffee adventure, The Starbucks Roastery Reserve would fit the bill!  It is located at 1124 Pike St. in Seattle, off Interstate 5 at exit 166.  The Roastery is an immersive coffee experience that will thrill all five senses of any coffee lover.  It is one of the few locations where you can see Starbucks Reserve coffee roasted onsite.  Certified Coffee Masters love to discuss all matters coffee related, like the finest sommeliers love to discuss wine.  There are lots of seating areas and free Wi-Fi, so why not spend a few minutes entering your shopping reports while the details are freshest in your mind?

If you would like to complete shops in this area or any other part of the country, just log in to your shopper dashboard to search for available shops.  You can search for shops near your home or in any other area you’d like to visit.   If you are interested in a route of shops in one area, email your scheduler.

Follow up Success!

Did you know that an Ellis Mystery Shop is not complete when you submit your report?  The leasing professionals you shop are scored on their telephone presentation, their onsite presentation, and any follow up contacts they make after your visit.  These contacts (or lack of them) have a great impact on the score the community and the leasing agent receive for that shop.  What are some things you can do to ensure the follow up score is fair and accurate?

  1. Don’t ever decline to give your contact information or say that you prefer not to be contacted.  It is generally required that a community follow up with you.  If you are asked if you have a preferred method of contact, just say that any method is fine with you.  Don’t give the impression that you do not wish to hear back from anyone after the shop.
  2. Always provide valid contact information.  We understand you may sometimes vary your name or phone number between shops to avoid becoming known as a shopper, but the contact information you give must always be valid.  If you have used your own phone number for numerous shops, perhaps you could use a relative’s phone number or a work number to receive contact.  You can set up additional free email addresses at yahoo or gmail.  Just be sure you remember how to log in to the account so you can check for any emails from the community.
  3. Check your spam folder for any missed emails.  Check your phone for any missed calls or voice mails from the property.  Remember that the caller id may not show up exactly as the name of the community.  If you see a missed call or find a voice mail from a community you have shopped, please award credit for the contact.
  4. If you speak with a leasing professional in a follow-up call, do not say that you have already leased elsewhere.  Just say that you are still looking.  You don’t want to shut down any further contacts that could impact her score.
  5. Please report any follow-up contacts that you receive at the bottom of your shopper dashboard.  Scroll to the bottom of your shopper home page and you will see any shops awaiting follow up reporting.  Click on the exclamation mark next to the name of the shop.  You will enter a “yes” or “no” for each of the three types of follow up individually – phone, email, and mail.  You won’t be able to enter a “no” for any of the three types of follow up until it has been 5 days after the visit, but that will not cause your report to be considered late.
  6. If you receive a late follow up after your report has been finalized, please email [email protected] the type and date of the contact.  We will be happy to add that to your report.

The last few points on a shopping report that are awarded for follow up contacts often make a huge difference in the score of a mystery shopping report.