Mystery Shopper Magazine is pleased to present the fourth in a series of mystery shopping scheduler interviews.
Overview: Traveliz lives in Central Illinois with her husband. Together, they own a second home in Windermere, FL, which is located about twenty minutes away from Orlando. She almost literally broke into mystery shopping in 1998, while indulging in “the extreme sport of sidewalk sweeping” and fracturing her foot. While recuperating for six weeks, she surfed the Internet and came across an AOL message board about mystery shopping and the rest, shall we say, is history.
Traveliz has an MS in Child and Family Development, but prefers “to piece together what (she does) in a variety of ways…a little child development work, crafts and a lot of mystery shopping”. This results in her focusing on her craft business from October to December and, the rest of the year, periodically taking care of kids during the day and conducting mystery shops at nights and on weekends.
When asked about her crafts, Traveliz replies, “I make Hymnal Angels and Lighted Snowman. I generally go to craft fairs in Illinois throughout the fall, but have sold them to people across the country, who have gotten them as gifts. Just this year I opened an Etsy store named, Traveliz. [www.etsy.com]
Traveliz’s posts on the Mystery Shop Forum provide a quick glimpse of her short-lived experience of being an independent scheduler.
MSM talks with Travelliz:
MSM: What was the impetus that convinced you to become an independent scheduler? What did you perceive as the potential benefits and how long did you do it?
Travelliz: I wanted to make some more money with my daughter getting close to college age and I had received an email about an opening. I thought it sounded like something I could definitely do and would increase my monthly income. It sounded challenging and even fun. I don’t remember exactly, but I believe I only did it for about a year.
MSM: As a scheduler, you’ve stated that you were paid about one to three dollars per accepted shop. How did this translate into a moneymaking proposition even under the best of circumstances?
Travelliz: Literally some projects have hundreds or even thousands of shops and some of those locations are easily scheduled, so that is “easy” money made with very little real work expended on the part of the scheduler. That would be what translated into the moneymaking. There was quite a thrill to load a project (I was mostly using Sassie) and then see the applications immediately pour in. The rest of the shops, especially the hard to schedule ones, were the ones that caused the stress in my life.
MSM: Your posts on the forum portray you as an adventurous, people-loving, easy-going, hardworking, highly motivated and creative personality. Together, these sound like the perfect attributes for a successful scheduler. Why didn’t the scheduling job work for you?
Travelliz: Scheduling didn’t work for me because I felt like I was tied to the computer and, in reality, that was the case. I could not step away for fear of missing out on someone going through an area and wanting one of my hard-to-schedule shops. When I did this, it was before smart phones and being able to get your mail anywhere, which did make it more difficult. I did have a cell phone and my number was out there for shoppers, but many chose not to call. I was at the computer desk constantly, all day. I remember one time when a very dependable shopper, emailed me to say she was headed to one of my “never-can-get-scheduled towns” and I missed it. I was heartbroken. In the end, it took me weeks to get this shop, for which I would be paid $3.00, finally scheduled
MSM: What was the one defining moment, which caused you to pause and then to decide, “No more. Not one more minute”?
Travelliz: It was New Year’s Eve and I was on a conference call with other schedulers across the country, attempting to get a project completed. I remember thinking this is not how I want to spend my New Year’s Eve. Perhaps, if all the calling had been successful, I might have felt differently, but honestly, despite our work that day, we only filled a few shops, which translated into much frustration and yielded very little cash.
I knew the next year I was going to have a family wedding on New Year’s Day and I thought, “No way!” I did continue for a while longer, but the frustration in not being able to get locations scheduled and feeling tied to the computer was too much. Ultimately, I realized if I ramped up my mystery shopping, I could increase my earnings without enduring all of the frustration and stress.
MSM: In what ways has your experience of being a former scheduler made you a better shopper? What is the best advice you can offer fellow shoppers, which would ensure them a place on a scheduler’s “go-to” list?
Travelliz: Well, if I get a call and I know the scheduler, I am more likely to say yes since I know what the feeling is to call and be rejected. Honestly, as a scheduler, to be on my “go-to” list, I would tell you to fly under the radar. Apply, get the shop done, and repeat. If you have a question, ask nicely. I read so much on the boards that makes me feel like shoppers feel like its a me-versus-them world, when, in reality, as a scheduler, I just wanted the job done. I also loved it when shoppers told me they were going to be somewhere and asked if they could take more shops than the limit, stretch the due date, etc. Often there is a lot of latitude in the requirements and easy, calm, and polite goes a long way.
MSM: After over 15 years of mystery shopping, you still sound as enthusiastic as ever. What motivates you to keep on shopping and enables you to maintain this level of enthusiasm?
Travelliz: I think it’s because I do several things as opposed to just one to earn my income. My crafts are big in the fall and I am less likely to take regular paying shops, so I only do ones that get me something I want/need or are high paying. I recharge during this break. Once January hits, and I have the huge slow down of crafts, I am raring to go on the shops again.
MSM: Thank you, Traveliz, for sharing your experiences as an independent scheduler! You provided some valuable insight to those considering a career as a scheduler.