It happens to the best of us. You’re sailing along, getting the shops you want and bringing home a good paycheck, and then it hits.
All of the sudden you feel very discontent with mystery shopping. You feel like the pay isn’t worth the effort and that your time could be better spent doing something else. It’s clear that you are burnt out on mystery shopping and you need a break.
Take A Breather. By all means, if you need a break then you should take one! One of the good things about mystery shopping is you can do it around your schedule, at your own pace, without having to ask for time off or answer to anyone. Take a break for a few days, a week, or a month…
Don’t feel at all guilty about it! There are more than enough mystery shoppers looking for assignments who can pick up the slack. When you’re ready to come back to mystery shopping, it will be here for you. You’ll be able to step right back into it (provided your break hasn’t been too extended.)
Once you start back up again, accept shop assignments at a reasonable pace to avoid being burnt out again.
What Happened? The majority of mystery shoppers who get burnt out say that they don’t feel like the pay is worth their time. The requirements of the shop are too involved for the small amount of pay.
Let’s take a minute and compare this to the other part-time jobs you were considering before you started mystery shopping. Was it something less than glamorous like working as a cashier in a grocery store or telemarketing in the evenings? Were you thinking about waiting tables to make some side money?
Think about mystery shopping for what it is. To put it bluntly, while there is a specific skill set required, you are doing a job that is basically entry-level. It is comparable to waiting tables or telemarketing. In addition, you are a contractor (versus an employee) with the luxury of setting your own hours.
The commitment from you on any given shop is very short-term. The pay is going to reflect all of these things. So when you get down about the pay, think about the other less-than-enjoyable things you could be doing to earn the same amount of money and think of the drawbacks of those jobs.
Don’t forget that you have the option to work the shops you want to. If a shop sounds like the pay isn’t worth the work, wait for the next shop to come along.
You should never be in a position where you feel like the pay isn’t worth the work you’re doing, because you should have a good idea of what work is required of the shop before you accept it.
Remember Why You Started. Mystery shopping has so many great benefits. There was a reason you were drawn to it initially. The flexible schedule of course is great for so many different lifestyles, from students to stay-at-home moms, retirees, and even full-time workers. Since you can set your own hours, the job will fit into just about anyone’s schedule.
In addition to the very flexible schedule, you may have been drawn to the mystique of the job. The ability to do something exciting and play the role of a low-level spy had its appeal. Or you may just be a shopaholic who enjoys spending time perusing aisles and being a consumer.
Perhaps you wanted to make a difference and help retailers improve customer service. You wanted your voice to be heard by upper management in these stores and believe that mystery shopping is a way to spur change. Don’t lose sight of all the other great reasons you first signed up to be a mystery shopper, besides the paycheck.
The Hidden Income. You can do the math. A $10 shop that requires a 15 minute commute to the shop, 30 minutes to do the shop, 15 minutes to drive back home, and 15 minutes to do the report ends up paying close to the new minimum wage level going into effect this summer. Can you bring home more money working as a cashier in a grocery store or as a fast food server? In my part of the country, definitely.
With other types of jobs, there are hidden costs to doing that job. For instance, you may have to pay for childcare, or you may have additional costs such as uniforms to purchase, meals out of the house, and so forth.
But with mystery shopping, there is hidden income. That $10 shop is actually worth more than $10. In addition to not needing to find childcare or pay for uniforms, you can also write off the mileage to and from your “job.” Using that same example above, let’s assume that 15-minute commute to the shop was a 10-mile drive. The IRS allows you to write off $.505/mile.
This means that you now have a tax write-off of $5.05 to and from the shop ($10.10 total). So that $10 shop just turned into $20.10, which is definitely better than minimum wage! Will you see that extra $10.10 as hard cash? No. But come tax day, you’ll see the difference. Also, keep in mind that you can’t write off distances traveled to a salary or hourly job.
This is not to mention any shop reimbursements you get. For instance, if you can pick up a grocery shop that pays $10 with a $5 purchase reimbursement, that will in effect pay you $15 for making a trip you normally would have made anyway.
Who doesn’t need groceries? Getting paid to do something you normally would do anyway gives a mystery shopper a much higher level of satisfaction than doing shops that are out of your way and inconvenient.
So take a breather. Everyone deserves some hard-earned time off.
And when you get back into it, accept the assignments that YOU feel are worthwhile. Most importantly, though, remember the hidden benefits mystery shopping has versus other jobs you could be doing.