Tips for New Mystery Shoppers

Mystery shopping is a good way to earn money on the internet. You can sign up with as many mystery shopping companies as you want. After you sign up, you have to check the job boards for each company each day. When you get an assignment, it is very important that you complete it. If you don’t complete the assigned job, or “flake” as they call it, you will not be offered or given any more assignments. Here are some tips for new shoppers to help you get started. These tips are what I wished someone had told me when I first started out.

  1. Make a job log. Mine is a spreadsheet in MS Works. The one I have has the name of the company I am doing the shop for, the name of the place I am shopping, then due date of the shop, the date I completed the shop, how much it pays, how much reimbursement it will pay (if any), the date it was paid, and a contact person’s e-mail or telephone number. I will send a sample job log so you can see what it looks like. I also have a column called “status” where I put AP if I have applied for the job, change it to AS if the job is assigned to me, C if I have completed the job, and P for when I am paid for the job. I highly recommend doing this step because you will need to keep track of what you are doing and when you are paid.
  2. Make another log of companies you have signed up with. This can also be an MS Works Spreadsheet. Columns for this log are Company Name, website address, e-mail address, date I applied with them, username, password, shopper ID #, a contact person, their mailing address, telephone number, and fax number. Write all this info down from their website when you apply with a company, then either put it in a spreadsheet or add them as a contact in your Outlook Express or other e-mail software. You are in business and need to keep track of with whom you do business. It makes life easier, believe me.
  3. A lot of companies want you to list nearby cities or zip codes where you are able to shop. They enter your info into a database and when they have a job come available in your area, they e-mail you with a job offer. So, make a Word document that is a list of zip codes so you can easily cut and paste the information into a job application online. I usually make two zip code lists, one in a single column, and one with zip codes separated by commas. Some of the mystery shopping company alpplications want it one way, some want it the other way, so I am prepared either way. Make another Word document that is a list of cities you are willing to drive to do shops.
  4. Some companies want to see how well you write, and will ask for a short writing sample. Write a short (2 or three paragraphs) report and call it My Worst Shopping Experience. Write another one and call it My Best Shopping Experience. Write one more document and call it Why I Would Make a Good Mystery Shopper (or Why I Would Make a Good Service Evaluator). Some companies want you to write a detailed narrative about a dining experience you have had.Save all of these files in a place where you can remember where they are. I made a new folder on my hard drive called Mystery Shopping Stuff. I saved all of these documents in that folder. As I was accepted as a shopper for various companies, I made new folders in the Mystery Shopping Stuff folder for each company so I can save any forms, reports, or other documents pertaining to that company.
  5. Get a file box and some folders. I made a folder for each company I work for and put things like the Independent Contractor Agreement, any correspondence I receive from them, paperwork for jobs I have been paid for, etc. in the folder for that company.
  6. Get a purse size calendar. Make a note of every shop you are assigned so you won’t forget. A lot of companies are unforgiving if you do not complete a job when you agree to do it. They lose contracts when jobs don’t get done. If you find that you will not be able to complete an assignment, call as soon as possible to let the scheduler know. You could also print out a calenday each month and write in your assignments as you get them. Another idea is to use Outlook Calendar to schedule your assignments.
  7. I would recommend paying for the MSPA Certification. MSPA stands for Mystery Shopping Providers Association. They charge $15 for Silver Certification, but it helps you get more jobs. One other thing I recommend paying for is Roboform software. It is a little program that lets you fill in the blanks one time and it remembers you username and password for all your websites. With the click of one button it can fill in forms for you when you are applying to companies online. It saves so much time and frustration, it is definitely well worth the $25 and is a business expense at tax time.
  8. Create a resume. Use any work experience you may have and relate the skills you gained at that job to the mystery shopping requirements.
  9. I also scanned my driver’s license and social security card and saved them so I could easily print them out or fax them to companies that require it when applying.

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