Overview: One of the businesses that people least like visiting nowadays happens to be a favorite destination for mystery shoppers. They’re not fun or fancy places by any means. But the payoff can most definitely be worthwhile.
A mystery shopper can make some decent cash while fueling up their vehicle when conducting gas station assignments. There are many available opportunities, and they are some of the most frequently bonused.
Project Variations: There are several scenarios for these projects.
The most typical is a combo of covert and revealed observations. In the first part, the shopper arrives at the gas station as a regular customer, pumps a few gallons of gas, and then makes a small purchase inside the convenience store. In the second part, the shopper announces the evaluation to an employee, and then begins assessing site conditions. Additionally specific photos are taken of the location’s facilities, including pictures showing areas of noncompliance.
Another lower-paying scenario is completely covert, and requires no pictures. The shopper maintains the role of a customer throughout the visit.
Visit & Reporting Requirements: Time on site for covert assignments can be under 10 minutes. For the combo scenarios, the amount of time is dependent upon the size of the facility and its condition, but typically runs 30 to 45 minutes. Usually the longest part of the reporting process is uploading photos. The narrative is usually fairly straightforward. Count on spending another half hour or so on each report.
Strategies: The number one reason for gas station reports to be rejected involves not submitting clear photos of all required elements. Always check assignment guidelines to ensure you have obtained photos of the building, signage, canopies, pumps, fuel islands, and anything else specified. And always take multiple photos of each item.
Review photos for clarity before leaving the site. Most of the time a MSC will require that photos be taken with a digital camera, and that they include a date/time stamp. So don’t try to conduct a gas station audit with the camera on your cell phone in these instances.
Assignment guidelines will also specify what type of convenience store purchases are allowed during the visit. It is common for items such as lottery tickets, alcohol, and tobacco to not be accepted. Be sure to save and submit receipts for both purchases.
While you are conducting the revealed part of the on-site evaluation, keep your assessments to yourself. Only in a few rare assignment scenarios are the results of the evaluation to be discussed with employees. In all others, shoppers should complete the audit without commenting on conditions to employees. It is commonplace for employees to try to engage with the auditor regarding the evaluation. The auditor should remain neutral and focus on completing the audit. The auditor can comment on situations that arise with employees in the report, or inform their scheduler.
What Others Have to Say: Forum members on www.mysteryshopforum.com conduct these frequently, usually creating routes to complete several at a time. Most agree that these require a bit of effort, but the pay can be very worthwhile when bonused.
Estimated Pay: Average starting pay for the typical combo gas station assignment is around $15, although some start lower. However, most experienced shoppers know to wait as bonuses will increase steadily throughout the month. Many assignments can be picked up for $35 to $55 or even more. The covert scenario fee is usually around $6.
MSCs: Among the mystery shopping companies that have gas station clients are Market Force, Ritter Associates, Maritz, and Corporate Research International.