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How do I find mystery shops? December 31, 2008

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Mystery Shopping Jobs.
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Mystery shopping is a unique industry…..you are an independent contractor, which means you can work for as many companies as you’d like. While this is great news, it can be difficult to get to the point of having enough work to meet your personal goals. Hopefully, we can give you some tips on making the most of the job boards to increase your workload without spending excessive time searching for jobs.

Each mystery shopping company is different. Some focus on specific industries, such as fine dining or retail, while others serve a variety of industries. There are companies who concentrate on specific areas of the country, while others are global. So, how do you know which companies have work in your area?

The old advice to new shoppers would be to go to a site, such as the MSPA or Volition and find their list of legitimate companies and start registering with each and every one. While this can be comprehensive, it is also extremely time consuming. You won’t know if they have work in your area all the time, so you may find yourself spending time registering with many companies you will never do work with.

Job boards make your search easier and frees up your time, allowing you to focus on companies with known work in your area. One example is Jobslinger – you can register for free and search for jobs listed by zip code or other parameters you set. Once you see which companies are posting in your immediate area, even if you are not interested in the specific job they are currently posting, you can register with the company to be notified of future shops. By doing this, you will know that these companies do have work in your area.

Once you are signed up with companies who have job postings on the boards, you will have a good base of companies to do work with. Another tip is to search for company feedback on boards such as the Volition shopper’s forum or the MSPA shopper’s forum – if a company has long standing bad feedback, you will know to stay away from them.

While these are the largest forums available, there are many other options that will help you in finding more work. From general to state-specific boards and forums, the list below will give you a good start in your search for work. With many of these sites, you can sign up to have digests or updates emailed to you, giving you a streamlined method of finding companies and shops.

Mystery Shop Resources….this forum provides general discussion, a place for schedulers to post mystery shops, as well as an area for shoppers to list the areas they are willing to shop. Schedulers will look to this when they are seeking new shoppers in newer or more remote areas. It is a great community!

MS Freedom
Mystery Shoppers Freedom….this is a forum “dedicated by and for mystery shoppers.” Registration is free, but required to participate. Offers a variety of information for mystery shoppers.

My Space/Facebook
Both newer venues for mystery shoppers, you can search both sites for “mystery shopping” to locate companies that participate on these sites. You can become a fan on Facebook, or become a “friend” of the company to learn more about its shops, news, etc.

Though not as popular as the sites noted above, Topica lists has different forums for schedulers to post available mystery shops. Simply do a search for “mystery shopping” for a general search, or you can search for “mystery shopping (name of your state here)” for more state specific mystery shopping lists.

Once you are registered with companies, it is always a good idea to keep up with the boards and forums, especially for support, feedback, and industry news. As far as shop postings, those will start coming from specific companies as shops become available. This is not true in every case though; be sure to check the company’s website to determine how and when they post jobs, how shoppers are selected, and what their payment policy is. Keeping a spreadsheet or other method of record-keeping will greatly assist you in this new venture.

While it can seem time consuming, the “hunt” for shops can be addicting. By continually building on your list of companies to work with, you will increase the work possibilities.

Good luck and until next time….happy shopping!

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Mystery Shopping’s Reputation December 30, 2008

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in General Mystery Shopping Information.
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1 comment so far

As this blog launches, we first want to address an important issue in this industry. Unfortunately, with the number of scams tied to mystery shopping out there today, people who are first seeking out work may have a jaded perception of mystery shopping and if it’s really legitimate.

We are very aware of this misperception, and it always reminds me of this story…..when I was first getting to know my neighbors, the woman asked about my job. As soon as the words “mystery shopping” came out of my mouth, her eyes lit up and she said, “Oh, wait! My husband knows all about that. I have to go get him.” So she runs inside her house, and I’m standing there thinking he’s going to grill me for information on how to become a shopper. Instead, her husband comes out of his house, finger waving and clearly agitated. He points at me and says, “YOU! You guys are all a scam! I’ve looked into that, and so have my coworkers, and you’re nothing but a scam.” And he turns and goes back inside.

Alrighty then…..

While we can laugh about that now that years have passed, it reminds me of what we’re up against. From radio commercials, unsolicited emails asking for people to perform mystery shops in exchange for gift cards, newspaper advertisements that ask for a $100 fee promising “hundreds of shops a month”, to the newest check scam, it’s no wonder mystery shopping has gotten a bad rap. This article provides a good base of information regarding scams related to the industry and is a must read for all.

It’s difficult to know where to start when you’re new. Our goal is to help people learn the ropes and get into the industry safely and without paying any money upfront. There are links to the right that provide some good sites that not only list legitimate mystery shopping companies, but also have great message boards for mystery shoppers. By reading what other shoppers experience, you will get a better feel for the industry and learn what to do (and not to do) during a shop.

The next installment will include more details on where to go online and how to get started, and some things to think about before you delve into the industry.

Mystery shopping IS legitimate and very useful to companies across the globe. Getting started may be tricky, but it can be a valuable and worthwhile experience – you are helping companies improve their customer service, one shop at a time.

Happy Shopping! Until next time…

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