In most jobs you work in, there is a lot of focus and attention on the important of business relationships with clients, customers, and others. In the mystery shopping world, the main business relationships you will be involved in are those with your providers. Many mystery shoppers don’t put much thought into these relationships, but in the long run, this apathetic view towards your providers can really hurt your earning potential and career prospects. Here are some things to consider about the dynamics of this relationship.
A Solid History. Many mystery shoppers have a feeling that equates almost to superiority over their providers. The fact is that there are dozens of providers that you can choose to work with, and any time something goes a little off, the first impulse many providers have is to high-tail it over to another provider. Many feel as though they just don’t have to put up with common issues like slow payments, rude schedulers, and other common problems. While there is something to be said for standing up for yourself and dropping a provider when the situation calls for it, there is also something to be said for establishing a solid history with a provider, too. If you are constantly switching providers, you generally will have a hard time establishing a relationship with them. It is the relationship and long-term history with a provider that will help you to get higher paying assignments that most mystery shoppers really want to work on.
A Two Way Street. As mentioned, you certainly don’t want to put up with providers who you cannot trust to be ethical and professional, and to pay you on-time, too. It is true that there are other fish in the sea, so to speak. However, you should make an effort to find some great providers to work with for the long-term. When you do find these providers, you will find that the mystery shopper-provider relationship really is a two-way street. They certainly need your services, and preferably on a regular basis so that they can service their own clients. However, you also need them for your own income. It’s easy to overlook the fact that you need them as much as they need you.
A Business Relationship. Most mystery shoppers will never speak to their schedulers and providers, and instead communication is done via email. While this is a highly convenient form of communication, it also tends to make it easy to forget there is a real human being behind those email communications. Sometimes mystery shoppers get busy and fire off casual emails chock full of typos and slang terms without giving thought to what they are doing. Other times, they may be angered about some issue and fire off emotionally charged emails. It’s easy to not consider that your email is going almost instantly to the eyes of a real person, and that this person has the ability to affect your earning ability with that provider company. The mystery shopper-provider relationship should be kept professional at all times, and care should be taken not to forget this dynamic in your day to day dealings with them.
Their Clients. You should keep in mind the larger picture of the mystery shopper-provider dynamic as well. The larger picture involves you acting as a subcontractor working on behalf of the provider. The provider’s client is the restaurant, grocery store, gas station, department store, or so forth where you are conducting the site visit. Most of these locations are a part of a chain, and so your ability to do your assignment on time and well means more business for the provider from this client. So clearly the provider is under some pressure to please their clients through your report. If you find that a provider is nitpicking about your report, keeping the big picture of this relationship in the back of your mind can help you to understand why typos and confusing word choices matter so much.
Some mystery shoppers work for years in the industry without really giving thought to this relationship. As you move forward as a mystery shopper, keep these points in mind and enjoy a better understanding of your relationship with your providers.
Hi Maven: Excellent advice once again from you, especially “A Two Way Street”. We all need reminders to keep us on our toes. Thanks.
Maintaining such a healthy relationship is beneficial to both parties. Communication and clarity are especially important when even small issues arise. Really, it’s the same as with any relationship. Human nature being what it is, and the fact that some things are simply out of one’s control, issues will definitely come up. Why high tail it and run? Deal with it and as far as it depends on you, keep the peace, favor communication, and give the other party benefit of the doubt. Anyone can have a bad day. Be the professional! Be willing to overlook an error now and again. Not that that means becoming a doormat, but usually what you dish out, will eventually come back to you. Flexibility is a valued asset don’t you agree?