In mystery shopping, as in many other careers, time is money. If you are spending too much time working on one assignment, you are wasting money. Many mystery shoppers learn right from the start that in order to make the most money at this job, you have to work fast while still retaining your attention to detail. However, there is a fine balance between working fast and attentively versus working too fast and making mistakes. One of the biggest ways mystery shoppers can waste time (and therefore money) is by making assumptions rather than taking the time to research necessary information.
The Math Of It. If you spend one hour working on a $20 assignment, you essentially made $20/hour. If you spend five hours working on that same assignment, you essentially made $4/hour. When you calculate your total time to complete an assignment, look at all aspects of the assignment, from how long it takes you to read through the requirements, travel time, the time it takes to do the site visit, and how long it takes you to complete and submit the report. If the scheduler has questions after you submit the report, that should also be taken into account. So if you rush through the site visit and report only to get hung up on a back-and-forth Q&A with your scheduler about assumptions you made on your report, you haven’t really saved yourself any time and may even be costing yourself money.
What’s Your Hang Up? With so many facets to the time required to complete an assignment, you should take a good hard look at what areas you could improve upon to make your work process more efficient, and therefore more profitable for you. Many mystery shoppers find that in an effort to speed the work process up, they make assumptions at various stages of the assignment. Some mystery shoppers may find that they skim through assignment requirements before the site visit because they all generally seem to be the same. This, however, can cost you time and money down the line when you find that you’ve failed to complete the assignment according to the instructions. Take an extra few minutes and give the assignment requirements the time and attention they deserve.
Other mystery shoppers fly through the site visit. You may have noticed that in the excitement of the moment you have forgotten to do the bathroom check or the fitting room check. Perhaps you didn’t take note of the salesperson’s name. These items that you forgot to do at the site visit will pop back up at you when you are completing the report. What saves you time at the site visit will cost you even more time with the report.
And some mystery shoppers rush through the completion of the report. You did a thorough site visit and reviewed the report beforehand, so you feel confident as you are speeding through the report. Yet in your effort to get the report submitted fast and move on to the next assignment, you may find that you carelessly make typos or leave off an important detail or two that can either ding your shopper rating or cause the scheduler to contact you later after you have submitted the report for clarification on your answers.
Find A Balance. New mystery shoppers will find a good balance between speed and attention to detail after completing a few assignments. However, even seasoned mystery shoppers who are busy with a heavy workload or mystery shoppers with many outside commitments can feel the urgency of getting an assignment completed fast. Before you know it, rushing through assignments has gotten to be a “norm”. Take a few minutes and analyze the last few assignments you have completed. Think about areas that you could improve on that would save you time and money in the long run.
Choose Your Assignments Wisely. The other aspect of wasting time and money with assumptions is by assuming a certain time commitment for an assignment at the time you request the assignment. After you skim through the assignment guidelines, you may think that assignment will only take an hour. Yet after you get started working on the assignment and read the guidelines more thoroughly, you may find that the time commitment is more than you originally thought and that $20/hour assignment just turned into a lengthy $4/hour assignment. If you have a concern about the time commitment for an assignment, most a question on the forum. While you may lose the assignment to another shopper while you await a response, many mystery shoppers would rather move on to another assignment rather than risk the possibility of committing themselves to a job that takes up too much time for too little pay.
There are numerous assumptions mystery shoppers can make throughout the mystery shopping process that can lead to wasted time and lost money. Take some time to review the assumptions you have been making recently to determine areas where you can save time and money on future assignments.