Mystery shopping, also known as secret shopping, involves posing as a regular customer in order to evaluate the goods and services that a business provides. Your findings are reported back to the client, and used to improve their services.
How Mystery Shopping Works:
A business hires a mystery shopping company to evaluate their services; and the mystery shopping company, in turn, hires shoppers to perform those evaluations. Shoppers are given a list of things to evaluate/note during the shop. This may include:
•how long it takes to be greeted
•speed of service
•cleanliness of the location
•compliance with company standards – dress code, signage, greetings, etc.
•listening for specific services to be offered
•names/descriptions of employees
After completing a shop, the shopper submits her evaluation and receipts. Payment is made one to eight weeks after submission of a successful shop.
What Types of Businesses Use Mystery Shoppers:
•hotels and resorts
•and many others
How to Find Mystery Shop Assignments:
If you're new to mystery shopping, Volition.com is a good place to start. It provides a database of reputable mystery shopping companies, as reported by actual mystery shoppers – so the information is more reliable than what you'll find through a web search.
Spend some time looking through the database. Then, form a list of the companies that you're interested in working for, and submit an application with each one.
Once your application is approved, you'll have access to the company's database of shops. Check it often for shops in your area, and apply for any of interest.
How to Avoid Scams:
Unfortunately, not all mystery shopping companies are reputable. To avoid falling for a scam, you should avoid any company that:
•requires you to pay a fee – you shouldn't have to pay anything to get assignments
•advertises for shoppers in newspaper help-wanted sections or through unsolicited e-mails
•requires you to pay for and earn a shopper certification
•guarantees you shops or a set income
For even more protection against scams, look for companies that belong to the Mystery Shopper Providers Association (mysteryshop.org).
What the Typical Mystery Shop Entails:
Every mystery shop assignment is a bit different, but most assignments will require you to complete your shop on a specific day and time. It will also require you to listen for certain services to be offered; to ask specific questions and remember the answers you receive to those questions; and to note the details of your surroundings – everything from the cleanliness of the bathrooms to whether signage is placed appropriately. It may even require you to try out specific services (say a new burger at a fast food restaurant); to take photos of the location; or to record conversations that you have with employees.
How Much Mystery Shopping Pays:
Mystery shopping is not a way to get rich, nor is it a full-time job. Expect to make $10-15 per shop in addition to any merchandise or services that you receive during the course