If you’ve browsed very many mystery shopping job boards, you’ve probably seen assignments available for gas stations/convenience stores. We’ve previously written about these assignments. But, they’re not as straightfoward as they might seem. In this article, we’ll walk you through preparing for these assignments, so that you can take full advantage of the opportunity they present.
One of the advantages to auditing/shopping convenience stores (stations) is that there are so many of them, and they’re everywhere. One of the disadvantages is that there are different brands and different mystery shopping companies involved. Each brand and each MSC requires learning new guidelines and a new report.
Some of the brands are more difficult than others, but which is the least or most desirable is not a point of agreement among shoppers. Also, the brands in my area may not be the brands in your area.
Regardless of the brand, the first one of each brand will be overwhelming. Prepare yourself for a steep learning curve, take only one assignment, and be sure you have ample time for preparation. Study the guidelines and consult with the mystery shopping company (MSC) on any questions you have. Go over the report form and be certain you are fully aware of the information and pictures you will have to provide. Using the report form, make yourself a cheat sheet including every item you need to photograph and every piece of information you need to fill out the report.
I suggest you take your first assignment at a local station in case you have to go back for more information or additional pictures. It will be to your advantage not to schedule a heavy work day on the day you do your first gas station. The job onsite will take longer than expected and the report will take longer than expected. It will help if you are not stressed out about other reports.
After you do the first station, you’ll probably reconstruct your cheat sheet. Be prepared to work on the cheat sheet and improve it each time you use it until it is as good as you can make it. The cheat sheet can make your job easier or can make it a nightmare. Do yourself a favor and spend the time going through the guidelines and report forms to create the best one possible. After you have made your best effort, you will find that you will still tweak and improve the sheet job by job as you go along.
Getting ready for the shop is something you need to think about well in advance of the shop. It’s not just one shop at stake – it’s shop after shop for that brand over the next few years. Think about how you plan to handle the shop from start to finish. A practice run at a similar station would be helpful. Walk yourself through it and you’ll be surprised how much that will help. Think of it as self education for a long term project.
Next month, Mary reviews the requirements for a camera, as well as how she keeps her paperwork organized so everything stays together.