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7 Pro Tips for the Best Mystery Shopping Assignments & Jobs

By Kira Botkin

mystery shopperMystery shopping has been around for a while and is a useful market research tool for businesses to assess certain things like customer service, product quality, and adherence to rules or guidelines.

For those of you looking to become experts at the popular money-making strategy of utilizing mystery shopping companies and jobs, here are 7 advanced tips to increase your earnings and up your game.

1. Filter your email.
This is a real sanity saver. You’re going to get a ton of email from various companies looking to schedule mystery shopping assignments. If there are specific assignments you know you’ll never be interested in doing, set up filters in your email account to sort them out and keep them from clogging your inbox. This is easiest to do in a Gmail account. Pick a phrase that’s unique to the email, and filter by that phrase and the title of the email. I have lots of these filters in place – I don’t own an Infiniti and thus cannot have it serviced, don’t play golf, am not over 40, am not under 25, will never go to the Bangor airport, and so on. Without filters, the assignments you do want can get lost in the shuffle.

2. Get an employee’s name, even when there’s no name tag.
If an employee looks within a few years of your age, ask his or her name, and then ask if he or she went to (insert name of your high school here). The answer will probably be “no” and then you can say, “Oh, you look just like the brother/sister of this guy Justin I went to school with.” It works in a pinch – just don’t do it on repeated mystery shops at the same location or you’ll get outed.

3. Plan a route.
If you can get multiple assignments on the same day, plan out a route to get them done more quickly. I use Google Maps for this purpose; you can enter in multiple addresses and change their order around to find out the shortest route. For example, I frequently did multiple shops along my city’s belt highway going clockwise, so even though I was driving quite a distance, each store wasn’t that far from the next.

4. Always read the instructions.
I try to read the instructions for a mystery shopping assignment as soon as I get it. This saves the frustration of, for instance, discovering just before heading out to dinner that you were supposed to call in the day before (true story). This will also give you a chance to get your instructions clarified if necessary. When in doubt, always call or email your scheduler.

5. Keep it organized.
Manila folders will do you a world of good. Label one for each month and throw everything in it that you collect. Receipts, business cards, toss them in and hang onto them. I’ve had instances of not being paid for assignments when the scheduler asked for a receipt a month later and I couldn’t produce it. Keep these items for six months before throwing them out.

6. Looking for more steady work?
Consider signing up for merchandising assignments or sampling events. Merchandising generally means checking a retail store’s display of a particular brand’s products and making sure the store has what it should and that everything is where it should be. This generally pays about $8 to $10 per hour and if you can put together a route, it makes for a very flexible part-time or second job. If you’re reliable and good at it, you can get permanent routes.

A sampling event generally means handing out samples in a grocery store. It’s not hard work and is usually during the evening or on the weekend. Average pay is about $60 for a 6 hour event, sometimes more if you have to cook or otherwise do more than handing things out. Other promotional events include distributing fliers, putting up product displays, or doing in-store surveys. Try Volition and NARMS for information on these opportunities.

7. Sign up more quickly with JobSlingerPlus.
There’s a new subscription service offered by JobSlinger.com which gives you greater control over your alerts and real-time access to companies that use the SASSIE mystery shopper system. The best part is that the thing that it does best, you can use during a free trial. A membership to JobSlingerPlus allows you to speed through sign-ups with companies on the SASSIE system; you can use Google to search for lists of them, and sign up for all of them in five minutes. Since the best way to get multiple assignments is to sign up with multiple companies, this is a quick way to get on more companies’ rosters.

If you’re a seasoned mystery shopper, what other tips would you add? Any funny shopping stories to share?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

Kira Botkin
Kira is a longtime blogger and serial entrepreneur who enjoys gardening, garage sales, and finding stray animals. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, where football is a distinct season, and by day runs a research study for people with multiple sclerosis. She hopes that the MoneyCrashers team can help you achieve your goals and live a great life.

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