You probably want me to just list out the top twenty mystery shopping providers and call it a day. You’ll have a list to go off of and will start doing more shop assignments and earning more money. Unfortunately, finding the best companies to work for is a personal matter and is not as simple as going off of someone else’s top 20 list. What’s best for you is not necessarily best for the next shopper. But there are things you can do to determine which companies are good for you, so you can make your own customized list.
Where’s The Job? First, you’ll want to research which mystery shopping providers have a lot of shops in your part of the world. There’s little point in spending your time applying with providers that don’t have a lot of shops in you area. Message boards and blogs are great areas to get this information from. If you can’t find the information readily available, go ahead and post a question on the message boards.
What’s The Job? We all have our own unique preferences. What you like doing may not be the type of assignments the next shopper enjoys. It may be the difference between certain types of jobs, such as restaurant shops versus movie theater shops. Or it may be more specific. Perhaps you like doing Target shops over Office Max shops. While you generally won’t know which providers have shops for specific retails until you’re actually signed up, shop providers typically provide the type of shops they do on their website. For instance, a provider may state that they provide shops for the restaurant industry nationwide, specifically for chain restaurants. If you have a lot of chain restaurants in your location and enjoy doing restaurant shops, this may be a company that’s worth your time applying for.
What’s Required? It all boils down to paperwork. Some providers are absolutely notorious for tons of paperwork. Reports are generally customized for each specific company the shop is for (such as Walmart or Cinemark movie theaters.) However, some providers in general require a lot more paperwork than others. While mystery shoppers aren’t allowed to discuss which company they did a shop for, they can (AND DO) talk about the providers. Check the message boards and see what’s being said about a specific provider. If you see a certain provider mentioned repeatedly as having a lot of paperwork with inadequate compensation for it, it may be a good idea to stay away from that provider.
How’s The Pay? Some shops may not pay very well, but they also may have limited requirements and a short report. Other shops may not pay very well, and have a ridiculously long list of requirements followed by an even longer report. In your research on the message, if you see one company mentioned repeatedly for inadequate compensation, that’s a sign to steer clear. If shoppers are complaining about the paperwork on the message boards, it may be worth your time to fire back a question about the pay. If the company is paying well for that extra-long report or adding in extra travel pay, you may want to consider that company. Keep in mind that what may be an insufferable amount of work for one shopper may not be such a hardship for you, especially if the price is right.
It may help to keep in mind that $10 for a shop in New York City doesn’t stretch too far on a New Yorker’s budget. But $10 in Baton Rouge may be another story. So pay attention to the location that mystery shopper is in also.
With a little bit of research combined with a grain of salt about what you learn on your research mission, you can develop a list of the top ten or twenty providers that are best suited for you.