How To Get Started Mystery Shopping, Part I: Finding Providers to Work With

Mystery shopping presents a great opportunity for many people to earn money in a convenient and largely less stressful way than with other types of employment. The job allows people to enjoy a great deal of flexibility that other jobs don’t offer, including the ability to work as much or as little as you like, and you can even bring your kids along on many jobs. What’s more, there really isn’t any experience required, and you just need to have good writing skills and some attention to detail to be good at the job.

With this in mind, it’s no surprise to learn that mystery shopping is the ideal job for many different kinds of people, from college students to stay-at-home moms to retirees. If you are considering getting started working in the mystery shopping industry, there are a few things that will be helpful for you to know up-front. This article is the first in a five part series that examines everything you need to know to enjoy a smooth transition into a profitable mystery shopping career. As the first article in the series, this article will explore how to find providers to work with.

What Is A Provider? Mystery shopping providers essentially act as go-betweens for businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations, and just about every other type of business that involves direct interaction with the general public with mystery shoppers. The offer the various assignments these businesses offer to mystery shoppers, ensure the assignments get completed, and review the reports you write on your assignments before handing them back to the businesses.

There are several hundred mystery shopping providers out there, and each one usually specializes in a different area. Some may specialize in a certain part of the world, such as the southeastern United States, while others specialize in a certain section of industry, such as restaurants or movie theaters. Unfortunately, there are also some scam artists out there who act like they are legitimate companies and pray on unsuspecting mystery shoppers.

How Can You Find Legitimate Mystery Shopping Providers? Legitimate mystery shopping providers are registered with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. This association has a website that is chock full of information on mystery shopping, and provides you with a complete, up-to-date list of mystery shopping providers. You can also learn about the latest scams targeting mystery shoppers by visiting this website. Keep in mind that there are plenty of websites out there that offer to sell you a list of providers for a fee. This information is available for free via the MSPA, so you should not have to pay for it.

You can sign up for as many providers as you want to, but keep in mind that each provider has their own unique sign-up process that can range from about five minutes to close to thirty minutes. So it will be in your best interest to sign up for providers that offer the most jobs in your own part of the world. You can take advantage of the mystery shopping forums online and ask other mystery shoppers for advice on which providers offer a lot of jobs in your area.

After  you’ve found a few mystery shopping providers you want to work for, your next step is to sign up to work for them. This process will be reviewed in detail in the second part of this five part series, “How To Get Started Mystery Shopping, Part II: What You Need to Know About Signing Up With Providers”.