Disclaimer: These suggestions are solely the opinion of the author. As widely documented on Mystery Shop Forum, one shopper’s “best” shops are another shopper’s “worst” shops. In addition, many more shops could have been mentioned, but due to space limitations, only five examples were cited.
Welcome to the World of Mystery Shopping, New Shopper! Although it is fun and can be exciting, it is also a lot of hard work and requires discipline and organization. Before you even set foot out the door on your first shop, it is important that you spend every day, for the first week, signing up with as many mystery shopping companies (MSCs) as possible. (There is comprehensive list of companies on the “Mystery Shop Forum”.)
Done? Okay, New Shopper, for your very first assignment, we’re going to do a casual dining shop for Market Force. This is a great get-your-feet-wet shop, since it includes a lot of the elements of mystery shopping, such as careful observation, guideline adherence, questionnaire compliance and to-the-second timings, however you’ll find that that the report is relatively easy. Although you have out-of-pocket expenses, as long as your do not exceed the reimbursement amount and follow the guidelines precisely, the MSC will pay you back in full. Just don’t forget to get a receipt!
After you submit your report, in order to get paid, you must electronically submit the Contractor Pay Invoice (CPI) and a copy of your receipt. Don’t forget!
Ah, I see you survived your first assignment, New Shopper, so let’s take what you’ve learned and apply your new skills to doing a smart phone shop for GfK. No timings are required, but you must make sure you read the guidelines and questionnaire carefully, and have a “back story” prepared, so you can answer all of the sales associate’s questions, without hesitation, and can present a logical reason for shopping for a new smart phone. No out-of pocket expenses on this one, but you will need to bring your camera or smart phone to capture a picture of the storefront. Just don’t forget to get a business card!
Now, that wasn’t so bad was it? Well, you’ve said you have a digital camera, so we’re off to see what MaritzCX has to offer. Oh look, they have an overdraft protection shop. Perfect! This neatly pulls everything together and will test your timing skills, your observational skills as well as,and especially, your listening skills. Again, read the questionnaire and guidelines carefully, have a great “back story” prepared and meticulously read those guidelines. Just don’t forget to get a business card and collect all collateral material!
Let’s prepare you for reporting the shop, by setting your camera’s image mode to 640 x 480, since MaritzCX is very specific about the size of the photographs they will accept. When you finish the shop, New Shopper, you will need to take a picture of the collateral material as well as the business card and upload it into the report. Like MarketForce, MaritzCX requires an invoice and business card be submitted, after the report is complete, so don’t forget to do this very important step.
A New Shopper has to eat, right? What are you in the mood for, a large, two topping pizza or a couple of fast food meals? (You may want to read the threads on the “Mystery Shop Forum” before making your decision.)
Ah, you’ve wisely opted to pass on the pizza shop; so back to Market Force to select one of their fast food assignments. New Shopper, you’re getting pretty good with your timings and remembering the shop’s requirements, so I think you should be just fine. As you read the questionnaire and guidelines, you will notice there are three timing points on both the walk-in and drive-through portions and pay close attention to the specific ordering instructions. Also, you will need to pay cash for your purchases, so be sure to plan ahead. Don’t forget to get both receipts!
All of your skills were put to the test on the fast food shop, New Shopper, so how about if we stick with Market Force and end with a more relaxing grocery store assignment? Once again, it is imperative that you thoroughly familiarize yourself with the questionnaire and guidelines and, in this case, you will need to print out the “cheat sheet”. This shop requires multiple interactions throughout the store, so take notes as you go along. Don’t forget to get a receipt!
New Shopper, as you gain experience, you will begin to notice how, as shops “age”, bonuses are added to the original fee. If you work smart and take advantage of this phenomenon, you should be able to increase your earnings in due time. You have so many adventures ahead of you and so much more to learn. Good luck and, most importantly, have fun!