When you first started out mystery shopping, you may have browsed eagerly through the assignments posted on the job boards in search of great assignments at popular venues. You may have opted for assignments at restaurants and stores you know and love, or may have tried to get assignments at places you’ve wanted to go to before but just never had the opportunity to visit. Many new mystery shoppers don’t spend a lot of time paying attention to compensation of an assignment or the time commitment required for the job. They simply want to get out there and work on assignments that look fun and interesting.
Yet after doing a few of these assignments, many mystery shoppers then start to realize that they just spend the last few days spinning their wheels on assignments and not really getting much in the way of compensation. The fact is that not all assignments are equal in terms of the time and effort you need to put forth and the return compensation to you. So just how can you determine which assignments are worth your time?
Estimate the Time. Some assignments are pretty clear about your requirement to spend so many minutes inside the store or restaurant. Others simply give you a list of requirements you have to complete on-site, which requires you to estimate how long it will take you to complete those requirements. When estimating your own time commitment, don’t forget to factor in things like travel time and if you will have to travel back to the site, such as for a a required item return.
Tally Up the Compensation. If you are in the habit of looking on the basic “shop pay” as your deciding factor for doing an assignment, you do want to kick this habit. Shop pay is only one aspect of compensation. Other aspects include the required purchase and the accompanying expense reimbursement, bonus pay, and travel pay, too, if those are offered. With the purchase, consider if you will be forced to buy something that you really have no need for or if this purchase can be used to buy something you do truly need. If an assignment requires you to buy something you don’t need, the required purchase doesn’t work in your favor.
Analyze Time and Pay. It sure would be easier to calculate a mystery shopper’s compensation if the assignments stated an hourly pay rate for your efforts. Of course, this just isn’t the case at all, but that doesn’t mean you cannot do a quick calculation in your head to determine just how valuable that assignment really is to you. Let’s say you’ve estimated an assignment will take you about an hour to complete, including travel time and report writing. Then assume that an assignment will provide you with about $20 in total compensation. Clearly this is a great deal for most mystery shoppers. Yet if the assignment was estimated to take closer to two hours to complete and only offered $15 in total compensation, you would be earning about $7.50 per hour, which isn’t so great at all. Of course, on the surface, there is only a $5 difference in compensation. You can see that when you only look at the pay as the sole factor to compare assignments on, you can really shoot yourself in the foot.
At first, it may seem like it will take a lot of time to analyze assignments posted on the job boards in this way. However, after you do this for a few days, you will find that you can more quickly and easily do the calculations. Given how much time and money this can save you in the long run, this is something every mystery shopper needs to be doing.