ACCEPTING SHOP PROJECTS
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Once you have completed the online shopper registration and independent contractor agreement, you may log in to search for shop projects in your area under the Available Shops tab and self-accept shop projects.
WHEN ARE SHOP PROJECTS RELEASED?
You can check the Ellis website daily for available shop projects as we release new shop projects and update the list of available shop projects often.
HOW DO I SIGN UP FOR A SHOP PROJECT?
You can self-accept most shop projects on the Ellis website by logging into your shopper account, viewing available shop projects and selecting the one(s) you want to complete. Please do not call the Ellis office to request shops. If you have any questions regarding scheduling an Ellis mystery shop project, email an Ellis scheduler.
For our video onsite recorded shop projects, you may self-accept the shop on the Ellis Partners website, and if you do not have your own equipment or a recording app, Ellis will contact you when equipment is available.
I CAN’T FIND AVAILABLE SHOPS
If you have already completed a shop project at the location in the last 18 – 24 months, then you will not be able to view the available shop project. If you have completed other shop projects for the same client recently, you also may not be able to view the available shop project. If the shop project has already been assigned and another shopper has selected to be the backup shopper, then the shop project would no longer be visible. If you still have questions about an email you received on an available shop, email an Ellis scheduler.
WHERE ARE REFERENCE MATERIALS
After you sign up as a shopper and log into your Ellis Mystery Shopper account, you can find Reference Materials for successful shops under Things I Should Know. Along the top of your home page are best practices modules you can also read.
HOW MANY SHOPS CAN I DO?
Ellis shopper self-accept limits may be increased or decreased over time, based on timeliness, quality, and accuracy of reports. Mystery shopping for clients obtained through Ellis is very part-time, as-available contract work. There is no guarantee of available shop projects. If a shop project is available in which you are interested but you are at your self-acceptance limit, email Ellis for assistance.
CAN I BE A BACKUP SHOPPER?
If a shop project 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 be offered the opportunity to 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 project, you will be deemed to have declined the offer and it will then be offered to another shopper.
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 projects 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 projects.
SHOP PROJECT ELIGIBILITY
CAN I WORK FOR AN APARTMENT COMMUNITY AND BE A SHOPPER?
Yes, but you CANNOT accept shop projects 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 SHOP A COMMUNITY WHERE I HAVE PREVIOUSLY LIVED?
No. If a shopper has ever lived at a community they are ineligible to accept a shop project 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 GO WITH A FRIEND TO SHOP A PROPERTY THAT I HAVE 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 project. Shoppers are ineligible to accept a shop project for a property they have already visited as a guest within the same time period.
CAN I MOVE INTO AN 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 project.
Once your shop project 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 where they completed a shop project. Remember, shoppers need to be extra careful not to reveal their shopper identity or they will risk losing the opportunity to perform future shops.
CAN I SHOP A COMMUNITY THAT I HAVE 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 project for that property again until at least 18 months has passed.
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 projects for a period of time (suggesting you are no longer interested in performing these mystery shops). These two scenarios can be rectified (in most cases) and your account reactivated. You can contact email@example.com to learn the reason for your inactivation and request reactivation.
VIEWING AND PRINTING SHOP FORM
You will need to have a PDF reader such as Adobe Acrobat in order to download, view, and print shopping report forms. If you do not already have a PDF Reader app installed on your computer, one can be downloaded for FREE from the Adobe website.
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 or email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can make a correction in our system.
HOW DO I CLOSE MY ACCOUNT?
If you no longer want to complete any shop projects and do not want to be contacted by Ellis, you can email email@example.com to have your account closed. If you change your mind, you can request the account be reopened later by contacting us.
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 project 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.
HOW DO I REPORT FOLLOW-UP?
When you log into your independent contractor mystery shopper account any shop projects 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 5 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
MY SHOP PROJECT HAS NO BEEN ACCEPTED
We receive and check in a number of shop projects 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 project limit but want to accept for more shop projects, email an Ellis scheduler.
SHOP PROJECT PAYMENTS
WHEN WILL I GET PAID?
Ellis disburses client payments to 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 project 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.
AM I AN ELLIS EMPLOYEE?
No. Apartment Mystery Shoppers need to be completely detached and independent, to ensure that the data they report is objective and not subject to any outside influence. This is why Ellis contracts with you as an Independent Contractor and does not retain any right of control over how you perform a mystery shop. You are responsible for paying your own taxes and insurance, etc. Mystery shop contracts are available on a very part-time basis. There is no guarantee of any minimum number of mystery shopping opportunities
HOW DO I SEE PAYMENTS?
Once you log into your Ellis Mystery Shopper account, you can view your Shop History. If a shop project 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 the bank.
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 reprocessing fee.
HOW MUCH DO CLIENTS PAY FOR A SHOP?
The shop project payment depends on the description details of the shop. You will always be able to see the shop description details before you choose to accept a shop project.
Ellis mystery shop projects are paid by the client when the project description details are fully completed and the required report and supporting documents are submitted timely.
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 specified leasing professional when they call the community back since they have already spoken to them.
DO I GIVE MY REAL NAME AND PHONE NUMBER WHEN I CALL?
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. If your call occurs before the visit (which is typical) and during the visit you are expected to give contact information that will enable the agent to reach you for follow-up.
WHAT IF THE WRONG PERSON ANSWERS?
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, update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage so we can give further suggestions.
WHAT IF I CAN’T REACH MY SPECIFIED LEASING PROFESSIONAL BY PHONE?
If you cannot reach your specified leasing professional via phone following Ellis’ recommendations in the project description details, please update Ellis via the envelope icon on your shopper homepage.
WILL CALLER ID SHOW MY NAME AND NUMBER?
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 project includes a recorded call component, then your information is blocked automatically from being transmitted to the community.
IS IT OK 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 project description details indicate it is a “Shop Anyone” shop. We recommend shoppers not leave a message if they are trying to reach a specific leasing professional or shop “Anyone BUT” a certain agent/agents. Update Ellis via the envelope for the shop on your shopper homepage so we can advise further after contacting the client.
I’M SUPPOSED TO SHOP M-F. CAN I CALL ON THE WEEKEND?
No. If the project description details state the shop is Monday-Friday, then both the call and the site visit should be conducted on those days.
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 specified leasing professional 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, update us via the envelope icon for that particular shop so we can note our records accordingly and adjust the due date if needed.
THE LEASING AGENT DID NOT GIVE THEIR NAME
If the agent does not give a name when they answer the telephone, 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 specified leasing professional, you can make an excuse to end the call.
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 SHOP ON MY LUNCH BREAK?
Yes. Shoppers simply need to allow adequate time to perform the shop not rush the leasing professional.
IF THE COMMUNITY ACCEPTS PET, 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 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-up actions are part of the evaluation of the leasing professional’s performance so please make sure you provide current information.
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 5 days after completion of the shop.
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 specified leasing professional when they arrive. If the shop project is a “Shop Anyone”, the person with whom you spoke on the telephone becomes the professional you should shop for the on-site visit.
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 project description details to see how our client wants those questions handled for each particular shop project you accept.