Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Getting Started as a Mystery Shopper

So many times people see advertisements around the internet regarding Secret Shopper, Mystery Shopper or simply, Make Money Shopping!

And then, right after that, you can click to sign up and pay for a list of companies.

Want to know my advice?

I am sure you guessed right...DO NOT PAY!!!!!

These lists can be found for free if you go to the right sites! And, I plan to bring you many, many companies you can sign up with for free and begin shopping immediately.

It is a waste of money to pay someone for what you can easily attain on your own. So, let me start by saying, I have made over $400 a year in compensation ( free dinners, products, haircuts, etc ) by mystery shopping. AND, I do this very occasionally. I have three small children at home with me, so I can't devote time to signing up for actual "shopping" shops.

They want you to pay attention to details, stay in the stores a certain amount of time, and other things I cannot do with three kids in tow. Primarily, I have only done restaurant shops that are children friendly. A few times, I have done bank shops, mattress shops and even clothing stores.

But, in general, for me, I stick to restaurants. My husband is with me then, so I am able to pay closer attention to what is happening around me.

My point to telling you all this is that if you have the time and ability to tackle all the other mystery shops out there, you can potentially make a lot more than I have. I use my shops strictly for free dinners out for me and the family. We usually go out at least once a month for free. My husband and I have also gotten to go to nice establishments alone, that we probably wouldn't want to pay the money for otherwise.

Have I peaked your interest? Are you ready to get started, too?

Here is some helpful advice when signing up.

  • Roboform will be your friend. Click here to download. It will automatically autofill your information in, so you don't have to refill your application out again and again per site. This will save you alot of time. And, believe me, it will take a while to sign up for all the companies.
  • Don't be shocked when they ask for your social security number. They are running a company, and are required to report income over a certain level ( I believe $500, but I am not positive ) to the IRS.
  • I would also recommend setting up a new email address strictly for mystery shopping. I get many, many offers a day for shops. My inbox is full. And, if these are mixed in with your normal email inbox, you will either lose job opportunities or personal emails. It is just not wise to mix them. You can always go to yahoo for a free email account or hotmail. But, please...get a new mailbox.
  • You do NOT need to be certified. You will notice when you sign up at all these sites they mention being certified. Do not let this stop you from signing up and applying for shops. I get shops monthly, and I am not certified. I, also, get a very high rating every time I submit a report, which then reflects on my work in itself. I am not saying paying the money to get certified is not beneficial if you are going to be doing this alot, but if you are just doing it to make a little extra here and there like me, it really doesn't seem worth it and it is not necessary.
  • Check email daily. The opportunities come in throughout the day for me, and I apply immediately to something I want. I am not sure how they ultimately decide who gets what shop, but I know I have been trying to work the Bonefish Grill for 2 years, and I have yet to be awarded the shop. There are some shops like that. They pay well, and everyone wants them. So, make sure you check your account at least once a day, if serious about this, and apply for the shops you want to perform. They will then, generally, get back to you within a week or so to let you know if you have it. And, many times, you will get an automated email if you don't get the shop, too. In addition, some shops are on a first come first serve basis. So, if you aren't the lucky first applicant to accept, you don't get it.

Now, as far as the work involved, it isn't bad. You will get the complete questionnaire you need to fill out before you go. So, it is VERY important to read through the whole thing. This allows you to know what key points you are looking for at this particular location.

For example, some stores might require employees to have certain colored shirts and that women have their hair pulled back. Well, if you didn't know to look for this, you might not have noticed. And, in most cases, if you can't complete the form adequately afterward, you won't get paid. But, don't let this frighten you, because it is not hard at all. I am just telling you in order to make sure you find out what you are looking for before you go. Read through all your material!

Next, most shops require you enter your data within a day or so. Believe me, it is very beneficial to complete the questionnaire the same day while everything is fresh in your mind. Most shops will not allow you to take pen and paper in to write notes ( hence why it is called a mystery ). So, alot of it is relying on your memory. And, your memory is the freshest when you first come home from the shop.

I hope all of that information is helpful. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you have specific questions about mystery shopping.

Happy Shopping!