Written by BBird0701
A few years ago, my husband got into woodworking.
I blame myself. I had hobbies, he didn’t, and he wanted one. He took something he knew a lot about, canoe paddles, and decided he wanted to learn how to make them.
After buying a few tools for his new hobby, and only checking off a few things on a long list of things to get, he turned to me and said “Hey, can you teach me your mystery shopping thing? I need something to pay for all this stuff.” He already knew quite a bit, having accompanied me on many lunch, dinner, and hotel shops, but now he wanted to strike out on his own.
I started him with Marketforce and GfK. After his first fast food shops with each, one of which was nicely bonused, he said “This is easy! Tell me some more companies who have shops like this. I’ll do this all the time!” I tried to counsel him against that, telling him that there just wouldn’t be enough shops like that to do with bonuses, so he’d be doing quite a few at base pay and making barely anything. He was adamant. “Quick, easy shops only, please!”
So I made a spreadsheet for him. I checked the boards for these companies, made a mock list of shops for the week ahead, using real fees, real locations, real distances, real available dates, and approximate time to complete the shop, report time. Some even had bonuses. Then I went back through my email and made a list of past shops for the beginning of that month. I had to keep branching further and further out, distance-wise, to find enough of these shops for him. By the time I’d finished, I’d compiled a list of 30 shops for him.
I sat him down and had him write down numbers as I went down the list. Shop fee, distance, approximate time to complete the shop, report time. Then we went over my list for the month, as I had about 30 non-video shops done that month. He wrote down those numbers as well. Shop fee, distance, approximate time to complete the shop, report time.
What he discovered was that, for an additional seven hours of report time, my 30 shops made 2 1/2 times what his 30 shops did. I explained that it was because I took a varied amount of shops, and mostly only took them when they were greatly bonused. I asked him, realistically, if he could stomach eating fast food 30 times a month, if he could eat it for lunch every single day, and travel up to 50 miles there and back to get it? I showed him one of his shops, 28 miles away, where he was making base fee of $7.50 for the shop, plus reimbursement for two fast food purchases. I then showed him one of my shops I’d done in that same town earlier that month, where I’d made $70 to shop a dealership. I asked him which he’d rather do, travel 56 miles roundtrip for a 20 minute shop and make $7.50, or travel 56 miles roundtrip for a 45 minute shop?
He got quiet, looking at my numbers, then his numbers, then back to mine again. Finally, he said “Show me those shops again? Can you make me a list of companies?” He now does shops my way, a good mix of everything, mostly only taking them when they’re bonused, and by the looks of our garage, he’s doing pretty well. Last week he scored a $125 non-video apartment shop. Sure, he had to travel an hour to get there, but it’s paying for a new set of chisels. He’s adding wood carving to his list of hobbies.