Mystery Shopping : An Excellent Part Time Job or Additional Income Source
Though the name itself may seem a bit mysterious, the concept of mystery shopping is actually
straightforward. Also referred to as secret shopping, performance evaluations, service checks and
frontline evaluations to name a few, mystery shopping allows companies to obtain a "snapshot in time"
by trained researchers who know in advance what they are to evaluate.
It provides management a method to quickly yet efficiently evaluate their business practices,
deliverables, and employees from the perspective of a non-biased consumer. Mystery shoppers visit
or call businesses posing as ordinary customers and provide detailed evaluations of their experience
using written reports or questionnaires.
Mystery shopping is used in a wide variety of industries such as retail, restaurants, financial
institutions, convenience stores and gas stations, service providers, manufacturers, department
stores, travel and entertainment, etc.
Though there is a certain level of responsibility and professionalism required to be an effective
mystery shopper, you should never have to pay to get a job. There are dozens of companies claiming
that by paying them a registration fee they will send you job opportunities and teach you the steps
to becoming a shopper. This may be true, but is also completely unnecessary.
The legitimate mystery shopping companies in the industry NEVER charge fees to the shopper. Training,
tips for improvement, and shopping opportunities are provided free to registered shoppers. Mystery
shoppers are either paid a pre-arranged fee for a particular shop, a reimbursement for a purchase or
a combination of both. Though it is possible to make a living solely from mystery shopping, it is
not very common. Most shoppers view this as a second income source or as a way to obtain fully
reimbursed meals, products, and services.
The registration process with leading mystery shopping companies has improved over the years. Most
provide a simple online form that takes only a few minutes to complete. Once you have registered
with a company or two, they will start informing you of shopping opportunities. Most of these are
"first-come, first-serve", so be sure to provide the company with an email address that you check
regularly, and a phone number where you can be easily reached.
Be willing to accept last minute assignments and treat bottom-of-the-barrel assignments just like
top-of-the-line assignments. At first, take whatever you can get. This will allow you to build a
reputation with each company. The old adage, "You never get a second chance to make a first
impression," is exceptionally true in this industry. Make sure you completely understand the
instructions for the particular shop, be impartial, and focus on accuracy. You may be required to
document employee names and descriptions, prices, inventory evaluations, etc.
Go hi-tech. More and more mystery shopping companies are requiring shoppers to have access to the
Internet, email and a fax machine. Some shops even require the use of a digital camera to capture
product placement, signage, cleanliness or other focus points.
Complete all assignments on time. If you absolutely cannot complete an assignment, contact the
mystery shopping company immediately so they can reschedule the assignment. Dependable shoppers get
the best assignments!