It’s 4pm and you just remembered you have a shop scheduled to be done before 5pm on the other side of town. You do not have the printout of the job description and now you do not even have time to go home and print it out. Frazzled, you race across town in a mad dash to the store, darting in and out of increasingly heavy traffic as rush hour approaches.
Mystery shopping is a job that most of us signed up for because to some degree we enjoy shopping. There is absolutely nothing enjoyable about racing to the other side of town, trying to beat a clock, and then feeling absolutely lost as to the nature of the assignment once you get there. Being prepared and better organized will help you to enjoy this wonderful job you signed up for.
Mark your calendars! Keep a calendar by your desk, and as soon as you sign up for a shop, mark it down on your calendar. Write the location and time of the shop, as well as the mystery shopping company the shop is for. Not only will you have a quick reference tool to keep track of the jobs you need to do on any given day, but it will also keep you from over-committing. If you have 3 or 4 shops that need to be done on any given day, as well as some personal commitments, you may want to think twice before requesting another shop that needs to be done on that day.
Scout’s motto. By following the scout’s motto of “be prepared”, you will make your shops a lot less hectic and in the end more enjoyable. Every day or two, check back to that calendar on your desk and see which shops are fast-approaching. Luckily, you wrote down the company name for the shop you signed up for and can quickly log on to their website and print out the required paperwork. Take note of any special requirements of the job, such as business casual attire or the need to shop with a spouse.
On the day of the shop, review all of the shop requirements again for that shop and be sure you understand the requirements and what specific things you need to look for during the shop. Visually walk through your shop in your head, especially if you are required to wait so many minutes before approaching a salesperson or so on. If you need to ensure displays are set up appropriately or other such specific details, it is advisable to once again review the shop details and even display pictures in your materials one more time before entering the store. Remember, never bring your shop print-out materials into the store with you!
As soon as you get back to the store, make whatever notes you need to in order to accurately remember the required details of the shop. Some shoppers are even known to complete the questionnaire right there in the store parking lot (provided the salespeople cannot see you) and then enter the information online once they return home.
File it away! At home, set up a file system to keep your receipts and other information on completed jobs in a safe place. In the event you get audited by the IRS, you will need to have proof of your required purchases and other shop details on hand. If you are a casual shopper, you may just need one file folder. If you do a lot of shops, it may be easier to set up a file system with a separate file folder for each mystery shopping company you do business with.
It is highly advisable to set up an accounts receivable ledger on your computer also. Each time you do a shop, just enter into a spreadsheet the description of the shop, date the report was filed, and the amount of money due to you. When that money comes in, mark that item as “paid”. You can keep a running log of your income, and will be able to quickly see how much money is due to you at any given time. You can also very easily see if a mystery shopping company is late in paying you and may need a courtesy call or email from you to check on the status of that payment. Taking these extra few minutes with each shop will save you a lot of time down the road.
Some of these steps may same tedious, but keeping on top of your shops on a regular basis and staying organized will make you a less stressed and more satisfied mystery shopper.