When I request a shop I attempt to keep in mind how far I will need to travel and how long it will take to complete the onsite visit. When the distance is more than a few miles, I set up a route. Most of the time this planning works well, especially if the shops are not targeted.
Last month I was able to schedule five apartment shops in another town about 125 miles from my home. I knew that unless my stars were perfectly aligned it would be difficult to make all five visits, even without the long drive, so I booked a motel. I felt comfortable with the shop instructions to make the phone call and visit on the same day because all were untargeted shops.
All went well early on. Calls were made and visits completed on two shops that paid a bonus. Then, I began to reach Central Leasing rather than the property to be visited. I could not set up an appointment or ask for an agent to return my call because all the calls were recorded. I made 14 unsuccessful calls on the first day, another nine on the second and fretted as I watched my profits fly out the window. Luckily I drive a Prius. I paid for the gas, and my husband and I enjoyed an evening away from home.
This month I got caught in a similar situation. I scheduled three semi-targeted new home shops with instructions to spend no more than 15 minutes with the sales associate. I also scheduled five untargeted storage shops and allowed 30 minutes for each of these. Total time would be less than seven hours, including commute between shops. No problem!
Trouble began when I realized I had not been diligent in my research. On the day I visited the new home sales offices did not open until 1 PM. I arrived at 10 AM.
Okay, not a big problem! I would do the storage shops first. Was I surprised when I found I had to backtrack six miles because the rail crossing I had just navigated was now closed for work on the tracks?
Things did not improve as I attempted to complete the storage shops when three of the scheduled five took much longer than I had allowed.
To make a long story shorter, I was able to complete the storage shops but could not get back to the new homes shops in time and had to return a few days later.
We like to travel. My vehicle gets such good mileage and mystery shopping usually pays for our trips. This time I went in the hole on each of these excursions.
Next time, I will be better prepared to be profitable.