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FAQ: How To Keep Your Aliases Straight

There are many questions that come up repeatedly on www.mysteryshopforum.com that will be compiled in a series of articles here in the Mystery Shopping Magazine. We hope that this will be a convenient resource for you to find the answers you are looking for regarding the tips and techniques and tools used in this business.

ALIASES 101: If This is Tuesday, I must be Jordan Kroponic!”

FAQ: Help! I have three shops tomorrow and each one requires a unique alias. How will I ever keep them straight? I’m sure that there are many other ways of keeping names straight, but I find the best way to be lining those names up along a straight line and walking carefully down the line.

Okay, that sounds daft, but humor me and we will build that line together. Take a good sized piece of ruled paper to create a chart that matches what I will describe. First, draw a line vertically down the center of the page. Label the right hand column, “Surnames”. On a second page make a simple list of questions about the names of people who have been important to you in some way. Here are some of my categories.

First grade teacher : Hayes
Mother’s maiden name: Joos
First date : Palmer
Best man or bridesmaid : Blanchard
Person you had a crush on in 5th grade: Nygren
Favorite male athlete: Aaron
Favorite actress: Thompson
Favorite Actor: Irons
Maternal grandmother’s maiden name: Stanton
Paternal grandmother’s maiden name: Charles

Okay, add to your list of last names that have special meaning to you until you have about 30 names. If you run out short of 30, fear not, we will “mop up” later with “in fill” names.

FAQ: How the heck is this list going to help me? What will make me remember which surname I am using hour by hour! We are going to use those surnames to form a line. Please go back to your chart and inset a narrow column in the middle of the page. Now label that column with the alphabet. (Yes, A, B,C, etc.) Then transpose surnames from the important people list to the appropriate far right column. So, my list would begin with Aaron and continue on the line below with Blanchard. All of our alphabetical lists will have a fair number of blanks. When you see where your blanks are, it’s time for some “in fill” as builders call new houses shoehorned into vacant lots in established neighborhoods. I recommend picking a single category for your infill surnames: pop or opera singers, famous authors, famous characters in novels.

FAQ: Now what? I still don’t have any memorable aliases! Time to fill in the left column in this chart. For every surname, select a first name starting with the letter of the alphabet immediately preceding. (For the “a” surname, use a “z” first name like Zoe or Zack. For “Blanchard”, I add Ann; for “Charles” I add Beth; and so one down the line. On the first shop I will be Zoe Aaron; next Anne Blanchard, then Beth Charles. The next time I need an alias, I will move down the line.

As I travel from job to job, I say out loud several times, “It is 9 AM and I am Zoe Aaron.” An hour later I will be droning, “It’s 10 AM and I am Ann Blanchard.” Then, “It’s noon and I am Beth Charles.” Keep the list in the car and write the alias on whatever paperwork you take for each shop. Always, always, say the name out loud several times.

Next time we will consider what to do when you have run all the way to the end of the line to avoid being spotted by clients that maintain data bases across their locations, like large home builders. In addition, Aliases 102 will tackle the issue of remembering a unique email for follow-up for each alias. Until them, walk down the line!

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