Written by elcarev68
Ever wish that you could talk to the actual client at 11:00 p.m. during a shop that has turned upside down to ask what to do when their special instructions don’t match up with onsite reality? Ever wish you could talk to another shopper who has completed a location before you for tips or strategies for getting it done? Ever wish that you could talk to the president of the MSC and find out whether your report made a difference?
AMA satisfies those wishes and then some.
Started in 2005, AMA was the brainchild of Artem Alabin, who, while born and raised in Russia, moved to the U.S. as a young man and began his work life on the frontline of parking facilities. After advancing to management, Art began to receive mystery shop reports and realized that he needed better information than the typical good manners, clean uniform, and tidy facilities kinds of reports that were coming in. He needed the observations of shoppers who could spot evidence of equipment tampering, ticket forgery, cash skimming, and in-car theft. He needed shoppers willing to provide a scathing evaluation without fear of MSC or client retribution. He needed shoppers who would take the initiative to report the unusual, odd, fishy, or suspicious details, even if those details could never have been anticipated for inclusion in the shop guidelines. He also realized that he wasn’t alone regarding this need, that every parking manager out there needed the same things.
He took matters into his own hands, and AMA was born.
The first AMA shop was conducted in Washington D.C. in 2005. Ten years later, AMA is now conducting 15,000 shops annually in 30 states, Puerto Rico, and one Canadian province. Parking facilities are still the staple of AMA, but shops are also being conducted in dining, hotel, and retail settings as well. 15% of all jobs are video based, with recording equipment provided free of charge to active shoppers. A contract is being finalized that will yield another 10,000 annual retail shops beginning in late 2015.
AMA is a member of MSPA. It is not registered with the Better Business Bureau. Only two discussions exist on Mystery Shop Forum regarding AMA, one offering favorable reviews regarding level of pay, dependability of pay, and quality of assignments, the other discussion offering accurate criticism the soon to be replaced AMA website.
On October 1, 2015, AMA contracted with Shopmetrics and will go live with all their shops effective November 1. From my own perspective, the old AMA site was outdated both in its exterior content and its interior reporting processes.
New shoppers are encouraged to register at the new website, https://amaenterprisesinc.shopmetrics.com/login.asp in preparation for the November 1 launch.
The new public website shell has not been completed yet, but the administrators within AMA are currently training on the Shopmetrics platform to be ready with November assignments. (If you would like to see the exterior of the old site, it is still visible at http://www.amaenterprisesinc.com/ . Don’t fret about the redirect, it’s just another example of the old site’s clunkiness.)
My own experience with AMA has been exceptional. In the nine months that I have been shopping with them, I have completed 76 assignments. I have had the pleasure of meeting regularly with my “coach” (scheduler, trainer, and active shopper) when we’re in the same city, have tag-teamed some complicated shops with her more than once, and have even met with the president of the company on several occasions. The rapport among shoppers is exemplary, with individuals making themselves available by text or cell for the purpose of mutual support and encouragement.
Pay is well above average for non-video parking jobs, and is on par with other MSCs for video work. Payments are mailed out or direct deposited on the fourth day of the second month after shop completion. I have always been paid in full 2-3 days early. Unique among my experience of MSCs is AMA’s pay scale, which increases with the number of hours spent on site, with the complexity of recording equipment used, and with the relative cost of the area being shopped. Video equipment is loaned free of charge, with no return needed as long as a shopper remains active. Utterly astonishing is the policy of profit sharing with shoppers who identify and initiate contracts with new clients, whereby the originating shopper receives a percentage of fees for all future shops completed by anyone for the secured client.
I contacted Art for a quote to include in this article. In between visiting prospective clients, providing shopper and coach support, managing the platform change, and just being dad, he offered, “AMA is unique in the industry that it combines loss prevention strategies with customer service mystery shops, which provides our customers a much deeper understanding of their operations. I am truly blessed with our team of shoppers. Their support is what really makes AMA successful!”
AMA is a growing company worth every shopper’s time for registration. If there are no shops near you yet, there likely will be soon.