By Daniel Price, Customer Impact Project Manager
For newer mystery shoppers entering the field for the first time, the idea of doing mystery shops can be a little daunting. The main thing to remember is that mystery shopping is only what you want it to be. For some, that’s a full-time job: routes of 10-30 mystery shops a day, of varying length and detail, going home and completing reports, then heading back out to do it all over again the next day. For others, it may be a nice way to get a free meal occasionally. For some, maybe it’s just a fun way to earn some cash on the side. The key to coming up with the most effective mystery shopping strategy to maximize your return is to figure out exactly what you want to gain from the industry.
If you plan on being a full time mystery shopper, then very important costs need to be factored in. This includes transportation costs, gas, and car maintenance. You will need to think about what types of shops you are willing to do, how many companies you want to work with, and more. Full-time mystery shoppers need to be very organized so they have little wasted time throughout their day. Oftentimes, these types of shoppers will fill “dead” time at shopping centers or others places with smaller shops that are easier but may not pay as much. For someone who is more interested in a hotel shop or a fine dining assignment, those easier shops may not be as enticing, but they are still very important shops in the process.
If you are more casual and see the benefits of mystery shopping for nice meals or hotel stays, then you definitely want to be aware of cost out versus cost in. Shops that require higher up-front costs need to be done correctly, and you really need to take your time when completing the evaluations to ensure a successful shop. However, most shoppers who get assigned fine dining or luxury hotel shops are shoppers who have spent a good amount of time completing the smaller shops to build up their rating and reputation with a company. Therefore, it’s always important to be thinking about how you can build your rating and your relationship with each MSP. A shop that doesn’t look that interesting to you may not be worth it for that shop alone, but the rating and reputation you could build with a company by completing it could pay off and lead to something you really want down the road.