Mystery shopping is a huge industry. Many companies that you frequent every day use the services of mystery shoppers. So, you’ve heard of it and read about it and now you’re wondering how you can become a mystery shopper. The very first step you may wish to take, especially if you are not exactly sure what mystery shopping is would be to read my first article entitled “What is a Mystery Shopper?” This will give you some good information about what this profession is all about.
Once you are familiar with mystery shopping, you are ready to get started. You have to do a job search just as you do for any other job you may wish to find. The biggest difference with mystery shopping, however, is that you are not “hired” by the company but rather an independent contractor. In addition, you can get jobs from more than one company and it is okay, even desirable, to do this.
There are several ways to go about finding mystery shopping jobs. But, before I tell you how to find a mystery shopping job, I want to tell how how NOT to find a mystery shopping job. If you ever get emails asking if you want to be a mystery shopper, they are SPAM! Pure and simple, if you never applied for a mystery shopping job and you are getting these messages, DELETE them! They will not help! The greatest piece of advice I can offer to you is that you should NEVER PAY a company for the right to become a mystery shopper!!!! I’ll say it again because it is super important. Never pay any company to start mystery shopping. If you are asked to pay or asked for a fee to join or sign up, then they are most likely not a reputable mystery shopping company. Real mystery shopping companies will PAY YOU for mystery shopping!
Finding a real mystery shopping company is relatively easy. There are hundreds of companies that hire mystery shoppers. There are several ways you can go about it. The first way is that you can search on Google for “mystery shopping” and see what turns up. You will likely find some reputable and some non-reputable companies. It may be hard to discern which are which. This would not be the method of choice for starting up because it is so hard to figure out which companies are worthwhile and which are not. It would be terrible and a huge waste of time and resources to complete a job for a company only to find that you will not get paid in the end. Or even if it is simply the time you waste filling out an application to find out that the company wants money for you. You can spend your time in better ways.
A better place to start searching for mystery shopping companies is the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (known as MSPA) website at www.mysteryshop.org Directly from their website, “The MSPA is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality using anonymous resources.” At the MSPA website, you can find actual jobs that need to be filled, contact the hiring company and potentially get real jobs. The MSPA does not directly hire mystery shoppers but they are a good organization to lead you in the right direction.
In addition, there are bulletin boards where shoppers (or potential shoppers) can ask questions and find answers. You can also search and find all companies that do a mystery shopping business in your area. You can search for all mystery shopping companies that are registered with the MSPA. If a company is registered with the MSPA, you can be fairly sure that they are reputable and fair.
MSPA, being a trade association, also offers certifications for mystery shoppers. You should know that certification is not an essential element for a mystery shopper but some companies do find it a desirable trait. Some companies do choose those who are certified over those who are not. There is a Silver Certification and a Gold Certification. Silver certification entails a self study and online test. Gold certification is a bit more involved. It requires a person to first have the Silver Certification and then to attend an all day conference which is held throughout the country at various times and dates. Having certification from the MSPA is an asset to many companies.
Another good source for finding mystery shopping positions is www.volition.com. Click on “get paid” on the left hand side of the web page and then click on “Get paid to Shop.” You can then find out all the mystery shopping companies registered with Volition or you can go to the bulletin boards where many companies list job openings. The bulletin boards also have a section for questions and answers specific to mystery shopping as well as a place to just “chat” with fellow mystery shoppers. There are also other handy tools available to assist you in your mystery shopping adventure.
Once you have found your lists of companies, whether it is through a random web search, the MSPA or Volition, you will want to start filling out applications. Most applications are straightforward and ask for information such as name, address, etc. Some ask what experience you have and others ask you to write a short synopsis of a recent shopping experience. It doesn’t have to be a mystery shopping experience if you are just getting started. Just describe, in detail, your experience!
One thing that may be especially helpful is to write any “essay” type answers in a word processing program so you can spell check and save your work. Many companies ask for similar experience stories or questions about why you want to be a mystery shopper and if you have saved your work in a word processor, you will be able to cut and paste the text right onto the form. This way, you will not have to continually re-write the same answers.
Apply to as many companies as you can. If you are just getting started, set a goal for yourself to apply to a set number, say 10, new companies each day. In this way, over time, you will be able to apply to all of the companies you have found. It is better to keep applying to new companies even if you only want occasional work. In doing so, you will have more of a choice in what types of jobs you can complete. Isn’t it nicer to be able to turn down a job because you have too much work than to not have enough work? When applying, you most likely do not know what accounts a particular mystery shopping company works on.
Once you apply to the companies, you have to follow the company’s protocol. Some accept you instantly. Others have a review process that can take days or months. They may even wait until they actually have available work in your area before they contact you.
Then, when you are finally accepted as a mystery shopper with a company, you have to figure out how to get jobs with that company. Some companies will send an email every time they have a job in the area you specified you are willing to work in. Other companies maintain job boards on their websites that you must check frequently to find job openings. Some jobs you apply for and have to wait to be contacted by a scheduler who tells you that you have the job. Other websites have jobs that you simply assign to yourself.
As a mystery shopper, you have to be diligent and sometimes very patient. The good jobs will come! Take the lower paying jobs to get your feet in the door with each company and you will be rewarded. Keep working towards your goal and you will be able to achieve it!