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!

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.

California (and a little mystery shopping), Here I Come!

Where are you traveling this summer?  California always ranks among the top states for vacation travel in the country, but this summer it is better than ever!  Always known for its sunny days, the state has also received lots of much-needed rain in recent months.  This has led to cooler temperatures in most of the state.  The rainfall has also improved the scenery in many of the state’s natural recreation areas by raising the water level in lakes and rivers.  Yosemite Falls in Yosemite National Park is famous as one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.  Recent rainfall and unusually high snow melt in the spring means the falls are flowing at near record levels and are perfect for sightseeing.  The rain has been a healing touch to King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, which were recovering from the wildfires of recent years.

Toward the southern part of the state, you will find some of the most scenic coastline in the country.  Santa Barbara is known as America’s Riviera.  With summer temperatures often in the 70’s, it is a sunny oasis offering fun for everyone.  Southern California is home to Universal Studios and Disneyland.   There are plenty of natural and man-made attractions to interest everyone.  On a walk through Hollywood, you are sure to spot some celebrities – or at least you can find their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. With all these places to visit, there are also many apartments available to be mystery shopped!

Why not take a little bit of your time to do a few mystery shops?  EPMS has lots of shops available throughout the state of Callifornia.  You might like to spend the morning doing a couple of shops, then spend the rest of the day sightseeing.  You could easily earn enough to pay for a few meals or a tank of gas with just a couple of shops.  Our apartment mystery shops can be a great way to get a feel for the area as a local, rather than just as a visitor. You never know, a road trip may turn into an ideal location to move to. Plus, you could have the benefit of knowing exactly where you want to live based on your mystery shopping!

If you live in California, a road trip to a different part of the state could be a great adventure!  You can plot out a few shops along your route and they may take you to parts of the state you have not visited before.  If you are planning a short day trip, doing one shop would not take much time and would make your short adventure much more cost-effective. 

If you would like assistance in plotting a route of shops, please email [email protected]  Our team will be happy to add shops to your to-do list and may be able to suggest areas you would like to travel where we have even more opportunities. 

Apartment Mystery Shopping in the Sunshine State!

Are you fortunate enough to be a resident of the great state of Florida?  Or will your travel plans take you there this summer?  With its beautiful beaches, natural springs, and world-famous tourist attractions, the state of Florida holds appeal for everyone! 

Florida is enjoying a tremendous influx of new residents moving in from other parts of the country.  “Snow birds” have long visited Florida in the winter months to escape the cold in northern states.

This makes the state a thriving market in the apartment industry!

The services provided by Ellis Mystery Shoppers can help ensure that everyone gets a great leasing experience at an apartment community. Ellis Mystery Shoppers evaluate the customer service provided in the leasing presentation at selected apartment communities.  Shoppers give feedback that is priceless to our clients, as their perception of the experience reflects what would have been the experience of a real prospect under the same circumstances. 

Are you traveling to Florida on vacation this summer?  Perhaps you could spare a bit of time to shop an apartment community.  If you are visiting the world-famous beaches of the Gulf Coast, we have shopping opportunities available in Panama City, Tampa, and Naples.  If your family is traveling to Disney, we have lots of shops in the Orlando, Kissimmee and Daytona Beach areas.  If you are driving south to embark on a cruise, we have lots of shops available in the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area.  You could earn a bit spending money while only taking a little bit of time out of your vacation.

If you live in the area and are interested in plotting out a road trip of multiple shops, we can help with that!  Please email [email protected] and our team will see what is available near you.

Regardless of your reason for visiting Florida, you will find lots of sunshine and happiness!  Burt Reynolds once said, “Florida is a very healing place!”  We could not agree more!  We wish you safe travels and happy memories in the Sunshine State!

Mystery Shopping Deep in the Heart of Texas

EPMS has apartment mystery shopping opportunities available in all 50 states, but our team makes our home deep in the heart of Texas. The Lone Star state is welcoming newcomers every day, which means the apartment industry is a lively one! For anyone interested in mystery shopping for EPMS, there is no better place to do it than in our home state.

The area roughly between Austin and San Antonio, TX is known as the Texas Hill Country. It is home to many state parks and outdoor recreation areas. In the summer, many Texans escape the heat by tubing in the Guadalupe or San Marcos River. Springtime in the Hill Country brings a world class show of our beloved Texas Bluebonnets and other native wildflowers. No matter the season, Texans will jump at any reason for a drive through this area.

Daytripping? How about doing some shops along the route?

If you are a fellow Texan, or are visiting our neck of the woods, why not take on a few shops to defray your travel costs? Picking up a shop or two in an area you’d like to visit will pay for the gasoline you’ll need for the adventure. Besides San Antonio and Austin, some of the surrounding towns include Schertz, New Braunfels, San Marcos, and Buda. Those towns usually have plenty of EPMS apartment mystery shops available.

When you need to refuel!

Refilling the gas tank is probably among your least favorite things to do these days. Unfortunately, it is still a required task. Texans have found a place that makes filling up a little less painful. Right between the cities of Austin and San Antonio on Interstate 35 in the town of New Braunfels, lies Buc-ees! Buc-ees is much more than a gas station and convenience store. It is a Texas sized travel stop that almost makes the road trip worthwhile on its own! Not only do they have the cleanest restrooms (and plenty of them!), but they also have some of the best food and treats in the Lone Star State! Their beautiful gift department is where many Texans begin their holiday shopping. There are now 35 Buc-ees locations in Texas (and 8 more in other states), but most Texans believe it is not a road trip until you stop at Buc-ees!

Why not make money while you travel?

With lots of shopping opportunities, great scenery and plenty to see along the way, the Texas Hill Country is a great place to shop. If you live in the San Antonio/Austin area or would like an excuse to visit, check out all the Ellis apartment mystery shops along the way.

Need a Side Hustle?

You don’t have to be a financial expert to look around and see that prices are rising on just about everything!  This may mean that the time is right to consider a Side Hustle to earn extra money. A bit of extra income can be a hedge against inflation, a help in paying off debt, or a way to fund a great vacation!  Not all side hustles are created equal!  What are some factors to consider?

  • Do you enjoy it?  Side hustles are generally done on “personal time” outside of normal working hours.  If you are going to give up your precious time off, make sure it is something you will enjoy.  If you don’t enjoy an activity when you’re not being paid for it, you probably won’t enjoy it as a side hustle.
  • What are the costs to set up your side hustle?  Does it require expensive equipment?  Advertising?  Registration fees?  How many jobs will it take you to recoup your start up fees?
  • Will it stand the test of time?  Some side hustles may be tied to a specific season.  Holidays or the start of a school year may offer unique opportunities, but if you are looking for continuous income, you may want something you can do year-round.

For all these reasons, Apartment Mystery Shopping for EPMS an ideal side hustle!

  • EPMS Apartment Mystery Shopping is enjoyable!  We all drive by apartment communities every day.  It is fun to peek inside at the amenities and see the floor plans and features of the apartments.  There may be a beautiful furnished model apartment offering ideas for your home décor.  Perhaps you’ll even find a community you shop to be a perfect fit for you.  Some of our shoppers have been paid to shop a community that becomes their new home.
  • EPMS Apartment Shopping is free!  There are no registration costs to shop for EPMS.  You don’t have to make a purchase and await reimbursement.  You won’t be applying for an apartment, nor paying any fee onsite.  There is no out of pocket expense required to shop for EPMS.
  • EPMS has been shopping apartment communities year-round for almost 40 years!  EPMS is a pioneer in the apartment mystery shopping industry.  We have been performing onsite shops for nearly 40 years.  We shop year-round!  If you find yourself with some extra free time, you may want to take on several shops.  As a shopper, you are free to accept shops that fit within your schedule.  Some shops must be done on specific dates or days of the week, but you will always know those requirements before you commit to the shop.  There is no pressure to accept a shop that won’t work for you!

Challenging economic times call for creative solutions!  Making a bit of extra money by developing a side hustle can be one of those solutions.  EPMS Apartment Mystery shopping is an enjoyable, affordable means of boosting your income in your free time. 

To apply as an EPMS shopper, please visit:

Want the MOST Money? Ask the Expert How!

If you’re new to shopping (or even if you aren’t), we want to help you fine-tune your shopping game and maximize your income. We took some time to interview one of our veteran shoppers, Phillip, to get advice on how he makes the absolute most of the time he spends shopping to walk away with the biggest paycheck possible.

Phillip is a shopper who likes to travel and he makes sure to plan ahead. He’ll log in and look for shops that are available along his planned route and then pick up the ones he’s interested in. Once he’s decided on all of the shops he’s planning to complete on his trip, he checks to see which of them may be eligible for a route bonus. If you didn’t already know, EPMS will add an additional $5 bonus to shops when you’re choosing 3 or more and the following conditions are true:

  1. All of the shops are at least 20 miles away from your home address.
  2. There is not already an existing bonus of more than $15 on the shop.
  3. You reach out to a scheduler to ask for the bonus before accepting the shop.

Next, Phillip says he decides what order the shops need to be completed in based on his travel plans. He begins making calls for target shops right away, even if he will need to plan the visit on another day so that he can plan the rest of the shops around those more difficult target shops. (Of course, you’ll want to check the specific instructions for your shops to make sure they do not require a visit on the same day as the call.)

Once the calls are made and the visits begin, Phillip told us he completes the onsite visit and when it’s finished, he leaves the community parking lot and pulls into a nearby parking lot (out of sight of the community, of course!) so that he can take out his laptop and type in some quick notes while the information is still fresh in his mind. He also take that time to upload his backup documentation so he can keep everything organized. At the end of the shopping day, Phillip will go back and, using the notes he made as well as any recordings that accompany the shop, complete the report and get it submitted ASAP.

Any shops completed and accepted by EPMS by the 7th of any month will be paid on that same month’s deposit on the 22nd (unless that date falls on a weekend or holiday – then it would be the next business day). Therefore, the more shops you can get completed by that date, the bigger your check will be for that month. Knowing this information will help you plan around your expected income and make the most of your time!

Work From Home, 007 Style

Have you ever watched a James Bond movie and wished you could be a secret agent with cool tech gear? Well, EPMS gives you the opportunity to do just that AND get paid without having to be chained to a desk from 9 to 5. Amid current events, many people are facing unemployment or underemployment. Mystery shopping with EPMS allows you to earn extra money while still allowing schedule flexibility to accomplish all the other things you need to take care of. What’s more, we have shopping opportunities available nationwide with a surplus of jobs available in (but not limited to) Montana, Wyoming, Arkansas, Connecticut, North Dakota and all over Texas.

You may have already heard about our mystery shops, but you may not know about the specialty audio and video shops we offer. These shops generally pay more and often have additional bonuses attached, especially if you have your own equipment you can use. These shops are completed the same way as traditional shops (telephone call, visit, written report), but the client has asked that we capture a secret audio or video recording of the visit. We’ve been asked if this is legal – don’t worry; these types of shops can only be ordered for communities where the employees have signed an agreement to be secretly recorded, so it is absolutely legal.

For audio shops, this can be done using a smartphone set on airplane mode with the audio recording app opened and set to record. The app we recommend using is SmartRecord by ROE. There is a one-time fee for this app and you can choose the one that works for your type of device. Once captured, those audio recordings can be sent to us easily using WeTransfer. Video shops require special hidden camera equipment, but don’t let this discourage you! We have sets of equipment we can loan to you to complete the shop. You will want to make sure you have a button-down shirt with dark colored buttons you can use to house the hidden equipment. Once you’ve captured the recording, you’ll just send the equipment back to us (we’ll pay postage!) and we’ll process the recording for you. Then all you’ll have to do is complete the written report.

If you want to know more, you can find instructional videos on your shopper login page that will detail everything you need to know about using the video equipment as well as repackaging and sending back to us via pre-paid FedEx shipping label. Also, remember you can always reach out to the follow up representative assigned to your shop if you have questions or need support. If you’re ready to step up your shopping game and give an audio or video shop a try, just reach out to your scheduler! They will let you know what steps you will need to take to upgrade your profile to secret agent status!

Putting the Pieces Together – Planning Your Mystery Shopping Day

So, you’ve made the wise decision to start earning money working from home as an apartment mystery shopper! Depending on where in the country you live, such as Wyoming, Tennessee or California, you may have access to a multitude of available apartment shops. This means you may end up having several shops you want to try to complete in one day to maximize your income, so you’ll need to know how to plan your day to effectively accomplish this goal.

First, you’ll want to make sure you know where you’re going for each of your shops and, if possible, plan your route to minimize travel time. It’s also vital to review the requirements for each shop to note any limitations on the hours a shop can be completed. Each company has different requirements and you may not get paid if you do not adhere to the special instructions for each shop.

Another helpful tip is to make sure to have a notebook in the car so you can jot down notes about each shop while the details are still fresh in your mind. Keep in mind that you would want to be sure you’ve left the premises of the apartment before writing notes or compiling other data; don’t do it in the apartment parking lot! If you’ve made any special notes about the shops after having completed the telephone calls (such as reminders about your shopper story, etc.), it would be a good idea to review those before walking in for the on-site meeting.

Finally, make sure your phone is charged and has space for photos. You’ll need to take pictures of the business card and other documents you are provided during your visit to upload as backup for the shop. Taking those photos and uploading them to the shop once you’ve left the premises will help ensure that documents don’t get mixed up with shops or lost.

The more organized you can be when planning your shopping day, the more effectively you’ll be able to complete shops and make the most money!