Like many of the lesser known mystery shopping companies, LRA keeps a low profile and has mystery shopping as just a small part of their total business model. LRA Worldwide, with headquarters outside of Philadelphia, has provided onsite assessments in the hospitality and related industries since 1980.
They have worked in 125 countries and very rarely use shoppers who are not their employees. This is because most of their business requires extensive experience in management in a particular hospitality or travel industry sector and a willingness/ability to travel, often on very short notice, 60-80 percent of the time. Those positions also tend to have a strong preference for employees fluent on two or more languages. More information is always available because they post open, non-independent contractor, positions on their web site.
However, they recruit independent shoppers for major projects.
For the major projects, they like to recruit a small cadre of shoppers to do a full set of maybe 15-25 shops each, such as going to a large venue each month or quarterly, to hit every store/vendor at the site. So, if there are 200 stores or vendors at a site, each of 10 shoppers on the team might do a different 20 of the shops on each iteration. Then, going back for another round and another, period after period. There is a flat fee for a set of shops, plus a set amount that varies by the type of store/vendor being shopped to cover required purchases and, for the ones where purchases are not required, to be used towards transportation or parking or just as a nice add on. You get that set amount even if you have to spend less!
They expect their shoppers to work quite independently and to seek help (which is given generously) when they are uncertain. I have been on two of their shopper teams for about 3 years and have recruited a couple of shoppers from this forum for those teams when team members retired or moved out of the area being shopped. The required narratives, entered through Sassie, for these shops are not a problem once you have done a few and understand what is, and isn’t needed. However, they do expect a level of written work and observational skills of very high quality. They require an invoice for each set of shops (not for each shop) and that requires a knowledge of Excel.
They have a few shops that do not fit either of the models and are more traditional mystery shopping assignments, also in hospitality and related industries. Most of these are scheduled by either of two MSCs that they team with. You may never even know that you are doing an LRA shop when you hit upon these. I only stumbled on this after working with LRA for almost 3 years and am not free to disclose who they team with. However, from what I have been told, future projects may result in an expansion of the number of such shops. Moreover, doing those shops appears to be a potential stepping stone to being invited to do special projects.
If you are invited to apply for one of their teams, expect to provide a writing sample, resume, and go through a phone interview. If you pass those, expect a very complete background check, for which they will pay, and, if special testing is needed, or special IDs for the venues, they will cover those costs.
I have done more than 500 individual shops for LRA in a little less than three years and have been invited to work on a rather large, one time project. This has given me an opportunity to work with four of their managers in the MS department. The LRA staff is always ready to learn from their shoppers, which is a real breath of fresh air. They pay like clockwork, by check, the third Friday after you submit the invoice.
To learn more, visit this link.