How I Handle Requests For Information About Mystery Shopping

information-mystery-shoppingMy friends and family know I am a secret shopper and occasionally they relay requests from other’s looking for information on how to get started in this business. I am always discrete about the why’s, where’s and who’s of my Mystery Shopping but happy to pass on some general information.

The first thing I tell them is I NEVER, EVER pay for a contract. Reputable agencies do not use middle men who charge for the information they post on their job boards for free. I mostly advise them to Google secret shoppers or mystery shopping and study the companies listed there.

I relate that I was able to find my first few shops that way but then ran into a wall. I will tell them I found Shadow Shopper online and broke my own rule when I paid a small fee to use their list to contact agencies looking for shoppers.

I felt I had only bent my rule, not broken it, and they became an excellent source of information for my new business. I also admit I still subscribe to JobSlinger Plus. The multiple emails I receive daily save me from spending my time searching for jobs instead of shopping them.

I advise that mystery shopping, like any other line of work, has a learning curve. Entry level assignments don’t pay much, or quickly. If the $10 from that first job is needed today this is not for them. It can take up to 90 days to get the first check. However, if they like the challenge of something new every day these jobs will hone their skills. They will soon be ready for the fun stuff with larger fees. The small paydays will be larger and contribute to a steady stream of extra spending money. Patient is necessary.

And last, but not least, a mystery shopper has to have a bit of larceny in the heart. After all, any employee will tell you what their boss wants to hear if you walk in with a clipboard and come right out and ask them. We call it role playing but you can’t be afraid to tell a lie. That little deception, if done right, discovers what their boss really needs to know.

Be Prepared

making-plansWhen 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.

Mystery Shopping as a ‘Back-up Plan’

If they said you had to see it to believe it then they should’ve given me glasses years ago. This is the real deal. You work, you get paid. Where else can you get paid to shop? With mystery shopping as your back-up plan, you can do the shops you want on your time and make more than a dime. Continue reading “Mystery Shopping as a ‘Back-up Plan’”

Extra Extra Read all About It!

One of the defining features of the Great Recession and not so great recovery has been the surge in long-term unemployment. As of March this year, more than 3.7 million Americans had been out of work for more than six months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the median duration of unemployment was 16.3 weeks. Although this is down from the record high in 2010, it is still far away from the above pre-recession norms. Continue reading “Extra Extra Read all About It!”