If you have extra time on your hands and love to shop, mystery shopping is for you. You can earn money for visiting stores and even get lots of things for free.
Mystery shopping is a growing business encouraged by the increasing number of retail establishments. Realizing the importance of quality customer service, more and more companies are using mystery shoppers to know if their businesses are meeting the needs of their customers. Comments from anonymous buyers are also a way to get information on the effectiveness of their staff training and development programs, and identify key areas where additional sales training may be needed.
A mystery shopper, also called secret shopper or shopper, pretends to be an actual or potential customer of a business. Depending on the research assignment, you will be asked to act like a real customer of the business – try on a wedding dress, test drive a car, stay in a hotel, open a bank account, eat in a restaurant, buy a piano, even apply for apartment rental.
What It Takes to be a Mystery Shopper
Your role as a mystery shopper is to gather information and make observations that the client company wants to know about. You will be given specific instructions for each assignment, including the dates and times you need to check out the business.
Good communication skills and sociability are key qualities a mystery shopper needs to have. You will not be a passive customer who will simply sit down and observe. In many instances, you will need to interact with the customer service people, and ask the questions to get the information that the client wants.
At the end of your assignment, you will be asked to write and submit a report based on your findings. Competent writing skills thus are crucial for mystery shoppers. You must be able to express in words what you have observed succinctly and clearly. Mystery shopping companies are not looking for Pulitzer Prize potentials, but people who are able to articulate in words the observations made.
You also need to have computer basic skills, as instructions and communications with the company are done online. Some companies will let you fill up an online form, while others will send you a document that you need to fill out and email back to them.
Oftentimes (depending on the company), you do not necessarily need to have experience as a mystery shopper to apply. However, the frequency and type of assignments offered to one just starting a career in mystery shopping are different from one who has a competent track record with proven reliability as a shopper.
Earning Money as a Mystery Shopper
Mystery shoppers are considered as independent contractors, not employees of the company. As such, you have the flexibility to accept assignments (even from other mystery shopping companies), and work in the time and place that you want.
Each shopping assignment has different payment arrangements, and will depend on where you live, market demand and urgency of the task.
As a shopper, you can expect to earn anywhere from $10 to $100 per assignment, depending on the shopping assignment, with the average fee per assignment normally ranges from $12 to $25. You can earn anywhere from $20 to $30 for higher-paying assignments such as gyms, car dealers or apartments.
The amount you will earn, including cost reimbursements, are given to you beforehand to help you decide whether you will accept or reject the job. There are companies who will only pay for reimbursement of cost if the assignment offers some kind of “personal benefit” (e.g. eating in a restaurant where payment is reimbursement for the cost of a meal for two). Some assignments may give you reimbursement of cost plus a toke $5 report fee.
Depending on the demand for mystery shopper in your area, you can expect to earn anywhere from $300 to $1000 a month in cash and freebies.
Resources to Check Out:
The best resource to check out is the National Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) http://www.mysteryshop.org , an organization of mystery shopping companies. Check out their listing of shopping assignments by country and by state from member companies. Some of the listings may be outdated, but the companies listed in their database are usually the biggest companies in the industry and most importantly, legitimate. Companies are accepted as members of the association only if they have been in existence for two years and they can submit proof of business existence. Make a list of these companies and check out their requirements to be a mystery shopper.
If in doubt, double-check the company with the local Better Business Bureau http://www.bbb.org , usually under the Service Intelligence category. Find out if any complaints have been lodged with the mystery shopping company, before agreeing to do work for them.
Recommended Books on How to Earn Money from Mystery Shopping:
- Mystery Shopper’s Manual, 6th Edition
- The Mystery Shopper Training Program Book: All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Best Part-Time Job
- Mystery Shopping Made Simple: How to Earn Good Money by Shopping, Dining Out, and More!
- The Essential Guide to Mystery Shopping: Make Money, Shop, Have Fun, Get an Insider’s Guide to Success
- How to Become a Mystery Shopper, The Only Book You’ll Ever Need, Expanded & Updated Second Edition