I’ve gotten a lot of positive responses and inquires to learn more about mystery shopping. So, here are my three top tips for optimizing your experience. They all center around being informed, with a solid understanding of your preferences and wants, as well as the different type of mystery shopping companies you can work for.
Do your Mystery Shopping research!
This means between mystery shopping companies, and the opportunities for each. Perhaps one doesn’t have a lot of opportunity for you to earn, or has requirements you do not fit. Understand the various business models discussed before. Some have all-in pricing like eBay, covering your expenses, and some have simply a flat fee payment, regardless of your spend.
Additionally, think about where you plan to travel. With the apps previously mentioned, you can scout your vacation cities and fun destinations days in advance, to see what shops will be available when you arrive!
Figure out what’s important to you
Is it profitability? Is it exposure, and the ability to try new establishments? What is most important? For example, my focus on profitability starts with an assigned hourly rate, which the shop has to meet in order for it to be profitable. But, if I am forced to go with a guest, that rate required goes up. Is it a focus on utility and happiness, in the ability to treat and try new things? If so, which companies have the best breadth of clientele?
For me, if shopping by myself, I enjoy the quick, easy, profitable ones, such as lunch or bar shops. These typically do not require another guest, and can be completed online in 5-15 minutes. For longer shops requiring more thorough reports and a guest, it makes sense to spend that time and energy on more valuable, higher end shops like upscale lounges or dinners. I always think about my hourly rate – how close does the shop pay to what I earn from alternatives (working, teaching, etc?)
Try a variety of companies and shops, and figure out what works for you. Some companies require more work for a shop that others. Is that worth the time and expense outlay? Are there resources you need to use or obtain, such as a car, video camera, recorder, child, etc? That is a question only you can answer. I’ve seen some companies with 100+ question forms to fill out, with paragraph answers for each. That doesn’t make sense to me, to spend 2+ hours answering forms to maybe, hopefully, get reimbursement ranging from $50-100.
What you figure out what works for you, you’ll get better at both aspects of the shop: the experience and report filing components. Once this happens, you can streamline your performance and only target shops that bring you happiness (upscale dinners, for me) or utility/profitability (bar shops, parking, etc.) or a combination thereof. Make your mystery shopping experience different, and you will make the most of it through research and exploration.
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