You can run into a number of avoidable snags or delays mystery shopping, just as with any other business or job. Fortunately, many of these challenges can be avoided when the proper steps are taken to prevent mishaps from occurring.
Back It Up! If you have ever had a computer crash on you, you understand what a complete nightmare it is to try to re-create the vital data you have stored on your computer. As a mystery shopper, you likely keep your accounting records on your system. In the event of a computer crash, without your income and expenses, you will have a very difficult time filing your tax return at the end of the year. You also will have a tough time determining which assignments you have already been paid for and how much money you are expecting to come in. If you keep your assignment schedule on your computer, you may be at the mercy of the provider sending you an email reminder of upcoming assignments.
The solution is simple – back up your data regularly. Some people choose to back up daily, while others prefer to do it weekly or monthly. How often you back up will depend on your comfort level for the amount of data that is lost. Are you OK with the possibility of losing a month’s worth of data? Whatever your preference for the back-up is, the most important thing is to actually follow through with doing the back up. Set up an auto-reminder or put it on your calendar to do the back up at regular intervals, and then do it!
The Old-Fashioned Way! Everything these days is digital, likely including your calendar or schedule. If you do regular back ups of your data and are comfortable with looking at your schedule in a digital format, keep doing what works for you. However, many mystery shoppers may be more organized and comfortable looking at the big picture of their schedule laid out in ink in front of them.
Your schedule as a mystery shopper is so vital. Before you accept an assignment, be sure to check your calendar to make sure you don’t have other obligations (personal or as a mystery shopper) during the date and time of the new job you’re looking at. Every day or two, refer back to your calendar to check back for upcoming assignments that you need to prepare for. The bottom line is that your calendar plays such a big part in your life as a mystery shopper that you need it to be in a format that you are comfortable with. If you will stay more organized with the old-fashioned calendar, do what works for you.
Use The Power Of The Spreadsheet! Lists, lists, and more lists… If you are working with more than a handful of mystery shopping providers, you may find it helpful to keep spreadsheets for a few different things. First, you may want to list out the providers you work with, as well as their website address and the type of assignments they have. This will help you to keep track of providers when you are online looking for new assignments to apply for.
Then you may want to keep a spreadsheet of your assignments. I would suggest keeping a separate sheet for upcoming assignments, completed assignments pending payment, and assignments you have received payment on. On these sheets, keep track of the date of the assignment as well as the provider.
Again, if you are comfortable keeping track of this information in excel or another digital format, or if you prefer to keep it all handwritten in a notebook, do what works best for you. The important thing is to get a system going that works for you and then keep it updated regularly.
Not every system or method will work for everyone, so develop an organizational system for your mystery shopping job that works best for you!