With the final school bell of the school year fast approaching, many mystery shoppers will find themselves having to combine their role as a mystery shopper with parenting duties. While many people often find shopping with kids to be a chore requiring patience and, mystery shopping with kids requires even more attention to detail as you keep an eye on the little ones while performing the task at hand.
The good news about mystery shopping is that as a mystery shopper you will blend in even better. Most employees would not think that a mystery shopper would be “working” with kids in tow. If your kids are running wild in the store, you may draw more attention to yourself. But the added eyes looking at you won’t be because you are acting suspicious. You can also use kids as a tactic for having to look at a display shelf for a second time, saying something about how they are distracting you.
While there are benefits to mystery shopping the kids, the fact remains that you have a job to do and you do need to concentrate on your assignment. Here are some tips for keeping the kids’ at bay while you’re working.
Keep Them Busy. Older kids can be kept occupied for quite awhile with a hand-held gaming system or with an iPod. If you plan to do a lot of walking in the store, you may want to opt for the music over the video games. But if your child will have someplace to sit, for instance in a shoe store or a fitting room, bring the gaming system along. Even kids as young as four or five years old can play a hand-held video game.
Younger kids (and sometimes older kids, too) can be entertained simply with a snack. Whether you bring a container of crackers or veggies for them to munch on as you shop, or if you stop by a fast food joint and pick up a shake or fries, their mouths and hands will be busy for a little while with their snack. The downside, of course, is the possibility for a mess. So opt for less messy snacks with younger kids, and bring in napkins or wet wipes if necessary.
The Bribe. Many parents don’t want to resort to bribing their children. As a parenting practice, it certainly has longterm negative effects. But the bottom line is that offering a bribe of taking the kids to the pool if they behave while you’re shopping (or buying them an ice cream or letting them have a friend over, etc) does work wonders. You may have to remind them a few times about their special reward to keep them in line, but it is a quick way to get bad behavior in check very quickly so you can complete your assignment.
Tell The Truth. Younger kids may not understand that you are working while you’re walking through the store. Older children, however, can probably get a fairly good grasp of the concept. Before you tell you’re child you are mystery shopping, be confident that your child won’t blurt out to the whole store that you’re a mystery shopper, or ask questions loudly while you are shopping. Younger kids are probably not good to entrust with the full truth for these very reasons.
Yet most older kids can be entrusted with the truth. And in this truth lies your power to complete your “job” distraction free. Simply tell them you have a few tasks you need to complete while you’re in the store, and they are not to bother you. For many older kids, there is a fascination in this secret that will keep them entertained as they walk with you through the store quietly.
Have fun taking your kids to work with you this summer!