How To Get Started Mystery Shopping, Part V: Building Relationships With Providers

This is the last article in a five part series that explores everything you need to know to get off to a fast and lucrative start in the world of mystery shopping. The first four articles explored finding providers to work with and signing up to work with them, finding and requesting assignments, what to expect from your first assignment, and strategies for filling up your schedule with assignments.

For many mystery shoppers, this may be all that you need to know to get started mystery shopping and to start earning a decent income. However, if you are looking at mystery shopping as a career with either part-time or full-time hours, you want to ensure a long-term source of income. Mystery shopping is just like any other job where you act as an independent contractor. Your income is not guaranteed by any means, so you must work constantly to nurture your business relationships. The fact is that mystery shoppers who have developed great working relationships with their mystery shopping providers enjoy many benefits ranging from preference over other mystery shoppers on many assignments to even privately being offered more lucrative jobs that aren’t even listed on the job boards. But how do you go about building relationships with your providers?

Build Trust. Your providers are counting on you to do a job well done each and every time. They work with plenty of flaky mystery shoppers who don’t show up for assignments or don’t fulfill the assignment requirements accurately. They deal with mystery shoppers who write bad reports with tons of grammatical errors and with personal opinions interspersed with factual data. They get irate phone calls and emails from mystery shoppers who are unhappy with slow payment for jobs already completed.

But when providers work on a steady basis with great mystery shoppers who show up on-time for assignments, complete the reports correctly and without the need for revisions, and who are friendly and professional to work with all the time, you definitely will stand out from the crowd. It may take a few weeks or even a few months for your providers to figure out that you are a mystery shopper they can count on. But when they figure this out, your name is one they will remember.

Go Out Of Your Way. You don’t have to be a mystery shopper for too long to figure out that there are some assignments other mystery shoppers just don’t want to touch. Perhaps they are difficult to do, are in a rural area that is far from where most mystery shoppers live, or have low pay. When you see that a provider is having trouble getting an assignment done, by all means off to help them out. Now, you don’t have to work for peanuts or drive five hours out of town without reimbursement. But definitely offer to do the job to get into the good graces of the provider. You can draft an email along the lines of, “I am happy to help you out of this job. However, it is X miles from home and there is some travel cost involved on my end…” If the provider is desperate to get the job done, you will likely get some extra pay for doing the assignment and come out looking like a hero at the same time!

Don’t Be A Nuisance. There is a pretty clear line between trying to prove yourself to be a good mystery shopping and just being bothersome. Providers are really busy, and the last thing they want is to have their time wasted. So avoid firing off email after email to your providers or filling their voice mailbox with messages just for the purpose of trying to get them to remember your name. After all,  you don’t want them to remember your name for all the wrong reasons.

Mystery shopping is not a difficult job to get started working in, but it can be confusing if you don’t know what to expect. I hope this series of articles has enlightened you with knowledge and insight that will help making establishing yourself as a mystery shopper faster and easier!