As a mystery shopper, you may be aware that there are dozens of providers that you can choose to work with. Providers are an integral part of mystery shopping because they connect you as a mystery shopper to the clients who are in need of your services. You must sign up to work with mystery shopping providers before you can begin looking for assignments to work on. More than that, the providers will play a role in the type of assignments you have access to, your compensation and other important factors. You may not realize it, but some mystery shopping providers can actually cost you money. By focusing on a few key points, you can take steps to ensure that you make money rather than lose money as a mystery shopper.
The Costs of Mystery Shopping
First, you need to pause and consider what the costs or expenses associated with mystery shopping are. This is a job where you will act as an independent contractor, so you are responsible for all of your business-related expenses. These include home office expenses, travel expenses and more. There is no way to get around the fact that there are some expenses associated with mystery shopping in general, but some providers have far higher expenses associated with some or all of their assignments than others. For example, expenses related to required purchases and reimbursements for those purchases will vary from assignment to assignment and from provider to provider. As a mystery shopper, it is imperative that you constantly monitor what your expenses related to general overhead are as well as what your expenses related to assignment-specific assignments are. When expenses exceed income, you are indeed losing money by working as a mystery shopper.
The Wrong Assignments
The fact is that you can likely lose money on many types of assignments if you are not careful, but with some assignments, you may find it nearly impossible to turn a profit. One of the most important factors to review is the required purchase. Most assignments will require you to make at least a small purchase, and many provide you with a reimbursement for the purchase. If the assignment does not have a reimbursement, you will find the cost of the required purchase can considerably erode your profit margin on the assignment. Furthermore, if the reimbursement is not sufficient to cover the items that you may be interested in purchasing, this can also affect your cost for doing the assignment. Another factor to consider relates to the travel costs. While you can write off a deduction for business miles traveled, you should keep in mind that this deduction does not entirely offset the cost of gas or wear and tear on your car. Nor does it compensate you properly for your time on the road. If you are going to travel a long distance for an assignment, you should crunch the numbers and make sure that the time and travel expense required or worthwhile.
You can find dud assignments with most providers, but some providers will consistently offer these assignments. If you find that your mystery shopping gig is not quite as profitable as you’d like it to be, consider if you are losing money on a handful of assignments or because you are working with the wrong provider.