Mystery shopping is an excellent way to earn money. Whether you want to work a few hours a week or forty hours or longer, mystery shopping provides you with the flexibility to work as much or as little as you want to or need to. With the ability to schedule your own assignments, you can set your own hours, do an assignment during your lunch break from your regular job, or even pick up a quick assignment while the kids are at their afternoon activities. You can also work forty hours one week and then take the next three weeks off if you want. The flexibility to make this happen is there, and this is one of the primary benefits that keep mystery shoppers working in the field.
This is the fourth in a five part series which explores everything you need to know to get started mystery shopping. The first three articles took a look at how to find providers to work with, how to sign up to work with them, and what to expect from your first assignment. Now that you have an assignment under belt and have a realistic understanding of what the job entails, you are ready to book your schedule up with assignments! Here are some excellent strategies for filling your schedule with mystery shopping assignments.
Fill Up Your Schedule Without Overbooking. You likely started mystery shopping to earn some extra cash but to also enjoy the flexibility that other jobs didn’t offer. So if you are like most mystery shoppers, you want to book your assignments around your personal commitments. So the first step to booking up your schedule is to make sure your calendar is accurate with all of your personal commitments. Write down regular activities such as hours of your “other” job if you have one, personal commitments such as family activities, doctor appointments, classes you may be taking, and so forth. To truly maximize your work hours as a mystery shopper, you will want to find assignments that can be picked up around your personal commitments.
So now that you see that you have a dental appointment Wednesday from 3-4pm and a PTA meeting Wednesday night at 8pm, you can see that you have few hours Wednesday between 4 and 8pm when you can work. Look at each day of your calendar like this and find the availabilities when you can take on assignments.
Scour the Job Boards. With your schedule availability in mind, then scour the job boards to find assignments that you can complete during these time periods. Ideally, you should be looking for jobs that are in the same general part of town as you plan on being in during that time, as this would maximize your use of time while minimizing any related travel expenses. If you can squeeze in an extra assignment or two into your openings, then by all means do so.
Don’t Forget the Reports. Often when you are scheduling your week and filling up your openings with assignments, it is easy to forget to factor in time to complete the reports. But if you book your schedule clear until 9 or 10pm, and then find remember once you return home dead tired that you still have to write out reports for the five assignments you completed today, you are going to be up pretty late at night getting all of your work done. So as you book your schedule with assignments, keep in mind how much time each report will take to complete. It may be helpful to schedule time to complete reports if you plan on doing more than one or two assignments in a day.
Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle. You may be really excited to work as many assignments as you can, but be sure you don’t take on more assignments than you can handle. If you back out on an assignment at the last minute, complete the assignment late, or fail to complete the assignment at all, you can really cause yourself some issues. Your mystery shopper rating, which is how some providers rank the quality of your work and which can be instrumental in allowing to work more assignments, may drop. If you complete an assignment late, you may not get paid for your work. So it is important that you only take on assignments that you know you will have time to complete.
One aspect of getting some of the higher paying assignments or the cushy assignments at theme parks, fine dining establishments, and other such coveted venues involves your relationship with your mystery shopping providers. Your relationship with your provider is vital to your success and profitability as a mystery shopper. The last article in this five part series, “How To Get Started Mystery Shopping, Part V: Building Relationships With Providers”, examines why these relationships are important and how to go about building a solid relationship with your providers.