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Details, please! Tips on Remember Details on a Shop March 30, 2013

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Written by: Kristin Garvey, Independent Account Manager at Ann Michaels & Associates


Shoppers are often asked to provide specific details regarding their visits; however, they are not allowed to take notes during the shop.  It can be difficult to remember all aspects of your visit, so how do you record the information without being flagged as a shopper?


Timing is everything

You should write down the aspects of your visit as soon as you can after you exit a restaurant or store.  If you wait until you get home or the next day, more than likely, you will forget key details of the visit.  Make sure that you either go to a different area of the mall, if applicable, or drive a short distance away from the store or restaurant and write down your observations.  Never sit in front of the store either at the mall or in your car, as this could flag you as a shopper.  Normal shoppers do not sit down moments after making a purchase to write notes.  I used to bring Post It notes with me and hide them in my purse.  After a visit, I would go to the other side of the mall, take out the Post Its and write down my observations.   You can also print out a copy of your shop report before you leave for your visit and fill out the questions as soon as you are away from the store or restaurant.  You should never take the report into the store with you, and you should never leave the report sitting in the front seat of your car.  All it would take is an employee who is on break to walk past your car and see the report for you to be flagged as a shopper.


To text or not to text

It seems that everyone has their face in their phone these days either texting or emailing.  While you may think that it would be okay to text your observations inside the restaurant or while you browse a store, you’re wrong.  Yes, using your phone is very common; however, it’s also a way for employees to flag you as a shopper.  Say a Server comes to check on you during a restaurant shop.  As soon as he/she leaves your table, you take out your phone and make note of the time and what was said.  You may think that you just look like  you are texting, but due to the timing, a Server would more than likely assume that you are taking notes about him or her.  If you can be discreet and not overuse texting, or avoid using it just after key observations are made, this can be a useful tool to help keep the details in order.


What to do if you forget

We’ve all been there.  You leave the store, recounting your visit, and you think to yourself, was the employee a brunette or a redhead?  If you are in a mall and can casually walk past the store again without going in to refresh your memory, that’s fine; however, you should not re-enter the store again just to check to make sure your observations are correct.  The employees may wonder why you are back, which will make you memorable.  You don’t want to be memorable.


What do you do if you just cannot remember everything

There are shops out there that require a lot of detail regarding very specific items in the store.  If you are unable to remember specific details well, you should make sure that you are right for the assignment.  There’s nothing wrong with declining a visit because you do not feel that you can perform it well.  However, you need to make sure that you review the shop materials before the shop, and if you decide that you are not the best person for the job, you need to let your Account Manager know BEFORE the assignment.  Do not perform the assignment and then tell the Account Manager that you won’t be submitting the report.  This is an even bigger issue if there was a scenario involved, because the employees have now heard the scenario.  If another shopper is scheduled later in the month, and they need to perform the same scenario, it could flag them as a shopper.  Cancel before the shop, not after.


Record it then report it

I have shoppers who carry recording devices in their pocket or purses when they perform a shop.  They record audio for the entire visit and refer to it when they get home.  Recording your visit can certainly help you with the details regarding what was said along with timings; however, you will still need to recall employee descriptions, cleanliness issues, etc. on your own, as you should not talk into your recording device during a shop.  Please be assured that unless the shop specifically asks for audio or video, we do not expect shoppers to record the shops.  However, we do expect shoppers to remember specific details.


When it comes to the details, do what’s best for you that will NOT get you flagged as a shopper.  Remember, it is best to write your reports ASAP when you return from a shop so all of the details are fresh in your mind.  Plus, your Account Manager will appreciate that you submitted your report early.

It DOES Happen – A Case Study on Making a Steady Income From Mystery Shopping March 27, 2013

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Many shoppers have asked us how they can make mystery shopping either a part time or full time opportunity for them. In part it depends on where you live and how far you’re willing to travel sometimes, and another part depends on how much you focus on this type of work as a part or full time position. I would venture to say that, in most cases, making it a full time job opportunity is a rarity. However, there are many people who can make turn mystery shopping into a part-time position.

I came across a great article detailing a mystery shopper’s experience with mystery shopping and how this shopper was able to make $14,000 in one year (not including reimbursements). You can read the entire article here – I highly recommend it, as it gives a fairly realistic view of what the work entails.

For those who are truly serious about mystery shopping and want to increase your workload, it is entirely possible, but you need to put in some legwork to get yourself up to a level of work you’re comfortable with. I also highly recommend working in the industry for a while before taking on too much. Get a good feel for the work involved and build yourself up slowly to be the most successful.

Here are some tips for making the most of your mystery shopping work:

1. Sign up with as many companies as possible: This is a much easier task today than it was five years ago. With sites such as Jobslinger and paid sites like Shadow Shopper, it’s much easier to find mystery shopping providers who do work in your area. Spend some time on these sites and register with companies posting shops nearby.

2. Learn to route your trips: it is true that shops are not high paying – as the article suggests, you can expect to make between $7-$20 on your typical shop. Making the most of your time will allow you to group shops by location and turn those piece meal shops into bundles of income. Do you see a shop posting for a location where you have other shops, but the date range doesn’t work with what you’ve already planned? Take a moment to email the scheduler – explain you’ll be in the area and ask if the date range can be adjusted. In some cases, it can, and a scheduler who knows your history and knows you have other shops in the area will be willing to work with you if it’s possible.  Read message boards, such as Volition, and keep up with the IMSC to learn how others make routes for themselves.

3. Take advantage of technology: streamline your efforts to find and be assigned shops. Follow mystery shopping providers on Facebook and Twitter, and make use of apps when you can. Sassie released an app not too long ago that allows you to be instantly notified of shops with all Sassie-based companies you’re registered with. This way you can be aware of upcoming shops while you’re on the go.

If you’re a shopper who makes this a full or part time job, please share any tips & expertise you have! We’d love to hear from you!

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