Posted By Jacob Jans, Editor

Shopper Profile: LIJake

Forum Alias: LIJake

How long have you been mystery shopping? I started researching mystery shopping in September 2013 and completed my first shop in October.

Where are you shopping? I live on Long Island, NY and normally shop within 20 or 30 miles of my home. Anything beyond 30 miles puts me into the boroughs of NYC, Lower Upstate, CT or approaching the East End of L.I. The parking is bad in the boroughs and the streets crowded and even worse in the City so I don’t shop there. Occasionally I make bonused trips to Westchester and CT and to the East End.

What got you started? For over 35 years I was an independent manufacturer’s representative in the sporting goods industry, mostly soccer. That is a very volatile industry dominated by two major manufacturers. The smaller companies that I represented were constantly changing philosophy, consolidating and dissolving. I reached the stage and age in life where I no longer wanted to pioneer and grow companies and decided to look for work from home jobs. I didn’t find any legitimate ones in my research but did discover mystery shopping and the forum. And a little more than a year later, here I am.

What was your first assignment and how did it go? My first assignment was two Haagen Dazs ice cream shops with a total distance of 47 miles and a payment of $30 less $8 for the ice cream. Not a very good days pay but the ice cream was great and it got me started. I also got 5 out of 5 on both shops.

What is you favorite type of assignment? Because I do so many, bank shops and gas station audits have to be my favorite. In a normal day I can earn a reasonable income by leaving at 9 am, doing 6 to 8 and getting home in time for late lunch. I like the banks because I can engage in a learning discourse by mixing the scenarios and it is a very quick presentation. The gas stations are a change of pace in that they are mostly revealed audits. I also enjoy business inspections but use them only as fillers as they are hard to plan out.

What kind of assignment haven’t you tried yet? I have no desire to do purchase and return shops, fast food, cruises or reimbursement only assignments. However I would like to research video shopping.

What is your # 1 tip for other shoppers? Treat mystery shopping as a business, because it is. Set goals and organize and plan each day’s shops to achieve them. Perhaps my # 1 tip is to set an income to expense ratio for each day’s shops that will yield a minimum ratio of 2 to 1, and much more preferably 3 to 1, 4 to 1 or higher.

What is your biggest pet peeve with mystery shopping? Mystery shoppers, by nature of the business, are lone wolves. This really isn’t a peeve but I miss the camaraderie I used to have with steady customers, other reps and manufacturers.

What is your favorite MSC? That is easy. Maritz is my favorite, not only because they are my largest source of income but because I can plan out a month of shops ahead of time. I also enjoy the verbal contact as opposed to exchanging emails.

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