What is Mystery Shopping?
You hear about it on the news. You see articles blogs written about it and posts on Facebook about it. But..what is mystery shopping? Is it just a scam? A way to earn some side cash? Maybe a full-time job?
Well, the answer is yes…
Mystery shopping is an entire industry that has over 40,000 certified evaluators on this continent alone (any many more who just do it part-time and are not certified which is okay too)! In a nutshell, evaluators, or shoppers, are contracted out and perform audits on customer service, business presentation, and overall customer interaction. You then fill out a report describing your experience. Simple, right?
Of course, nothing is that simple, however, it is pretty easy. Evaluators must be organized and detail-oriented. While performing a shop, shoppers must be aware of the time, note how many customers in the the business, name of the employee who is assisting you, and specifics of your visit. You also must remember any scenarios given to you as well as shop guidelines.
Some visits require you to make a small purchase. Depending on the shop, you may be reimbursed, however, some shops pay you a flat fee and you get to keep anything after making your purchase. Some shops do not require any purchase.
So what kind of shops are out there?
Well, every kind. There are phone shops where you simply make some phone calls and fill out reports. There are retail shops for practically every type of retail store out there-from grocery stores to high-end jewelry stores. There are also financial and banking shops, real estate and apartment shops, restaurant shops, movie shops, and even special event shops! There are also hotel shops and airline shops! Need something cleaned? Need your oil changed? We’ve got shops for those things too! Shops pay based on the type of shop, length and difficulty of report, and company offering the shop.
So how much money can I make?
Mystery shopping can be anything you want it to be. You can perform shops occasionally and just enjoy some extra cash or you can it a full-time job. It’s up to you. You should take it slow at first and get a feel for the ropes before you quit your office job however.
So what about those scams?
Well, sadly, they do exists. There are people out there who just like to take advantage of hardworking people. But there are ways to avoid the scams. NEVER accept and cash a check or money order and then send part of it back! NEVER pay for a shop. There are some organizations that may charge a membership fee, but NEVER pay to perform a shop. ONLY accept shops from reputable companies. If you are not sure, check with MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers of America) or other industry association.
OK-How do I get started?
This is where things get complicated. There are tons of different service providers, or mystery shop companies, out there. Some companies are very large while others are very small. Each company works with their own clients or businesses who need evaluations performed. You will have to register with EACH mystery shop company you do work for.
To find open shops, check out job boards. There are a bunch of different ones (I know..I know) but to start with, just focus on one. MSPA offers a great board that has offers from dozens and dozens of different companies. Each job will explain hat you need to do to be accepted for it.
Do I need to be certified?
You do not need to be certified to perform mystery shops. There are some great companies that do offer classes and training. You may want to consider those at some point in your mystery shopping career.
That should get you started. Check back with us to learn some helpful tips and tricks!
Mystery Shopping Tips