The flexibility of work hours with mystery shopping is one of the things that draw people to this job. Maybe you have a demanding full-time job, but want some extra cash with a flexible part-time job. Or maybe you’re a college student or a soccer mom, which both have changing work availability by the week. Chances are you are already a very busy person without shop assignments. Or perhaps you’ve got this mystery shopping thing figured out and are doing more shops than you can handle.
Whatever your circumstances, a mystery shopper needs good time management skills to complete the shop assignments accurately and on time. Failure to do both of these things may result in a rejected shop, with an end result of you working and not getting paid for your valuable time.
Multi-tasking is not a bad word. That word has gotten some bad press lately. People that multi-task aren’t actually as efficient, and you’re better off fully completing one task before you start another. Well, that’s not necessarily true with mystery shopping. Mystery shopping has a lot of “down time” with traveling. You may spend a total of 10-30 minutes or more in total commute time on a shop. Why not get paid twice for making that trip?
Whenever possible, book two or three (or more!) shops in one area on the same day and around the same time. It may sound impossible or highly unlikely, but if you live in or near a large city, chances are you probably live around several malls or retail centers. Many shops have the ability to shop whichever day you want, provided you complete the shop by a certain date. Even if you can’t get two shops in one shopping center, maybe Shop A is right on the way to Shop B.
And You’re Back Again. Many shops require a return visit, to exchange or return merchandise. Often, you will be required to try on additional items, such as shoes or clothing in the fitting room, and evaluate service and salesmanship on this visit as well. So this follow-up shop may take just as long as the first visit. Make sure you allow enough time in your schedule to do this second part of the shop.
Don’t Forget The Reporting. When you are planning your time for the shop, allow enough time in your schedule to complete the report. After you scan or fax the receipt, upload it, and complete the questionnaire on-line, you may have just spent 30 minutes to an hour doing your report. If you have 2 or 3 shops in one day, you can see that this will eat up a large chunk of time!
Pencil It In. You definitely want to use a calendar or PDA to keep track of your shops as well as your personal obligations. It doesn’t matter which you use, just be sure to have an easy way to keep track of ALL of your obligations in one area.
Check your calendar before you commit to a shop. Remember to check your availability for the first trip the shop requires, the return trip if there is one, and time to complete the report. Write down your obligations, both personal and mystery shopping, as soon as you know about them and keep your calendar up-to-date.
There’s no point in having a calendar if you aren’t going to check it often. Get into the habit of checking it daily. Each day when you check it, review the items you need to complete for the next few days to keep your schedule fresh on your mind. It’s never a good day when you wake up and find that you’ve overcommitted yourself.
Getting into the habit of doing these things will allow you time to complete more shops. If you manage your time right, you could be making more money as a mystery shopper!