Mystery shopping is a wonderful and exciting job, far different than your typical run-of-the-mill part-time jobs where you sit behind a desk or counter and watch the clock ticking, waiting for your shift to be over. There is some excitement, but there is real work involved. And as with most jobs, there are things you can do that will make or break your paycheck.
Who’s The Boss? In reality, mystery shoppers are their own bosses. This is a contractor position, where you set your own hours and decide what jobs you want to do. Yet with any job, you will have clients (in this case, providers) that you want to service well so you can get repeat work. So if you have a customer service-oriented mindset, in a way you could say your providers are your boss.
To get repeat business in mystery shopping is not terribly difficult. It’s a matter of merely being personable and professional when you interact with your providers, and following all of the requirements. By doing this, you will be allowed to continue requesting assignments with a providing.
But if you develop a good, solid relationship with a provider, almost a friendly type of working relationship, and you do outstanding work, not only will you be allowed to continue requesting assignments, but the providers may actually call you to request your services. You can definitely make more money by getting to know your providers.
Book It… Then Double-Book It! If you’ve completed even a handful of mystery shop assignments, you know that even taking an assignment ten miles from your house can take an hour or longer to complete. And this lends itself to saying that in a lot of cases, a large amount of your time spent mystery shopping is actually spent commuting to the mystery shop location and then back home again. This isn’t exactly “wasted” time since you can write off the mileage on your tax returns and at least get some type of payment or reimbursement for your travel time. (Just be sure to keep a travel log of your mystery shopping mileage in case you get audited.)
But you can really make your time count when you double-book your time with multiple assignments. By double-booking, I don’t mean you need to be in two places at one time. Rather, sign up for two mystery shopping assignments that are somewhat close to each other that are to be completed in the same window of time. Your time is worth something to you, and you can make it worth more by getting paid for two assignments on your trip out of your house. Kudos to you if you can knock out three or more assignments in one outing!
Be Picky! If you’ve looked at mystery shopping assignments recently, you have likely noticed that the pay on these assignments is across the board. Some are still bouncing around the $5 range, while others are $20 or more. It can seem like a no-brainer to look at the higher paying jobs first, but keep in mind that not all jobs are created equal. There’s a lot more that goes into how much you are actually getting paid on an assignment than the check you bring home. There may be required purchases that are or are not reimbursed. If you are getting reimbursed for items you “need” to buy for your daily living, a smaller paying assignment may be OK. Also look at the assignment requirements. Does the assignment look like a quick in and out, or will the requirements force you to remain in the store for 45 minutes or longer? Or do you have to return to the store a second time to return your purchase? Is the assignment at a location you travel by every day (such as on your way home from work) or will you have to make a special out-of-the-way trip?
These factors are different for every shopper. So one $5 assignment may end up being preferential to a mystery shopper over a $20 mystery shop assignment if the conditions are right. Learn how to analyze the mystery shop requirements for terms of travel time and cost to you, required purchases, and your cost of time spend doing the assignment. You may be surprised to find out that some assignments even cost you money!
New mystery shoppers have a tendency to sign up for every assignment they can get their hands on. This can be a good way to get experience, and to learn which types of assignments you enjoy doing and which providers you enjoy working with. Yet this can cost you money. Strategize about which assignments you sign up for by double-booking where possible and picking shops that will make you the most money when all factors are considered. Then do your best to do a great job on your assignment and cultivate a relationship with your provider. With these simple tips, you will be well on your way to developing a profitable job as a mystery shopper!