Overview: This type of shop can be fun, but it requires more narrative than the average shop. Paying attention to detail is a must, so is writing a thorough report. Once you get the hang of doing apartment shops, they will become a breeze to complete.
Project variations: The assignment is more structured than most other assignments. The guidelines will tell you the type of apartment you will ask about and the time frame of the move. In most cases you will be inquiring about a one or two bedroom apartment that you will need in about two weeks.
Visit and reporting requirements: The objective of the shop is to contact the target person listed in the guidelines. You want to reach the target person without asking for them by name, so you may have to make several calls. If you can’t reach them within a certain time the scheduler will sometimes allow you to ask for them by name.
There are usually three parts to this assignment, the first part is to contact the target person by phone, and the call is usually recorded. The second part is to visit the apartment to observe the target person as they present the apartment to you. Going to visit the apartment on the same day is ideal, but not always possible. The third and final part of the assignment is to complete the report. Don’t be surprised if the editor asks you to clarify some of the statements in the report.
Strategies: Now it’s time to prepare for your visit. It is important to read the guidelines for each of these shops, most of the time the instructions are the same but you should always double check. View the apartment with the eye of a renter that is really looking for a new home. Be enthusiastic, but do not go overboard if the apartment does not deserve it. One of the requirements of the shop is to make an objection. I usually go online to look at the amenities that the apartment offers and use an amenity that they don’t have as an objection to renting. When speaking to the agent, be prepared to tell them the reason why you are moving. Be prompt for your appointment, pay attention to how you are greeted when you arrive and the way that the agent presents the apartment. And please don’t forget to get a business card or other type of flyer with their logo on it from the agent as proof of your visit.
What others have to say: Opinions vary on apartment shops, some love them, and others can’t stand them. Doing targeted shops can be frustrating for some people, for others the most difficult part of the shop is writing the report. I’m neutral on doing the shops and I don’t do many of them because of the extra time that is involved with contacting the target person and the extra narrative involved.
Estimated Pay: The pay for these shops also varies, because I live in a big city the pay is usually lower than it would be in a rural area. Based on posts that I have seen on the forum, the pay is much more for doing video apartment shops and shops in other areas. The average starting fee is $25.00 in my area, but there are sometime bonuses involved.
MSCs: Companies that usually have apartment shops that I know of are: Ellis Partners Management Solutions, Intellishop, and Remington Evaluations.