Yes, there is a Mystery Shopper. There are thousands, in fact, and they travel about every day, continuing to make glad (hopefully) the hearts of employers with reports of great service, attractive stores and excellent products. And if you’re reliable, with an eye for detail and a certain knack for, well, subterfuge, mystery shopping may be a great way for you to earn some extra money, and have fun doing it! After all, mystery shopping offers…
1. Flexible Hours
As a mystery shopper, you’re an independent contractor who will work from home. You get to decide which assignments to accept. Now, when you do choose one, you’ll have to complete it within the given time frame; however, you don’t have to choose work which conflicts with your personal schedule. This gives you a measure of independence, and the ability to fit your work into your life, instead of the other way ‘round.
2. Helping Business Owners Succeed
On the face of it, mystery shopping may seem like a frivolous enterprise–you “get paid for shopping,” right? However, what you’re really doing is providing a quality control measurement. The clothing store owner who notices her business falling off might never attribute it to an unpleasant staff member if your report didn’t point it out, for example. And the chicken franchise manager who learns that his food doesn’t meet the temperature requirements can make the necessary changes before the health department inspection, or before someone becomes ill. It can be hard for business people to see the flaws in their establishments. Mystery shopping services help bring these to light before they prove fatal.
3. Advocating for Consumers
The flip side of this is, of course that, as a mystery shopper, you’re also working for the consumer. Customers want friendly service. They want clean bathrooms, good selection, helpful staff and safe parking lots. They don’t always get them, and sometimes their complaints can be overlooked. But you, as a representative of the mystery shopping company, have greater credibility. Your evaluations can make shopping a more pleasurable, even healthy, experience for everyone.
Mystery shopping doesn’t offer benefits like insurance or retirement savings… but it does have some perks. You’re reimbursed for purchases, meaning that, while your pay per “mission” may be small, you do end up with some freebies. And who doesn’t love free stuff? And, if you have mystery shopper certification, you may land some gigs with luxurious perks. Imagine, you may never pay full price at a classy restaurant again!
5. Getting Paid to Shop
It’s ok to admit it. You’re a shopaholic. Or at least you would be if you had any money. You love the thrill of the hunt, the interaction, the excitement of acquisition, the whole retail atmosphere. As a mystery shopper, you get to have that experience as often as you wish, only in this case, your bank account gets a little fatter, instead of going into freefall. Just be careful that you don’t extend your license to spend. Get what you came for, and get out!
6. Extra Income Never Hurts
Most people don’t get rich through mystery shopping. If you live in a large urban area and take on lots of assignments, you may be able to support yourself, at least occasionally, but even that situation is unusual. Most of the time, you’re working for some extra spending money or savings to supplement another income. But if you’re careful, a little here, a little there–it adds up.
People are usually paying things like rent, insurance, and car payments every month. Think about making those necessary bills as low as possible; find affordable car insurance from Acceptance Insurance, an affordable apartment on craigslist, and a great deal on a car if you drive. Once you minimize your payments and then fund some of them from a second job like mystery shopping, you will be amazed how much extra cash you find yourself with. Mystery shopping can be an exciting way to get closer to your financial goals.
Are you a bit of a ham? Have a part in all of your high school’s dramatic productions? Make your Oscar acceptance speech in the mirror every morning? Well, as a mystery shopper, you can put your acting chops to good use. Occasionally, you may be required to play a role, such as “harried shopper,” or “irate customer.” And you have to be good to pull it off. No breaking down into giggles mid-tirade, or otherwise blowing your cover. Even if no “character” is required, you do have to play the role of an actual shopper, and not someone with a hidden agenda. You must be able to uncover, remember, and record information surreptitiously, which takes a good deal of skill. In this job, you’ll act every day, but celebrity is your enemy.
8. Take Your Child to Work Day
Of course, on some assignments (bars, anyone?) taking a child would be inappropriate. However, in most instances, you can mystery shop with your youngster. Sometimes, as in rating a store’s “child-friendliness,” being a parent is an asset. Just don’t tell your children what you’re really doing, “loose lips” and all that!
9. It’s an Education
Do you dream of running your own business someday? Then mystery shopping has a lot to teach you about customer service, store appeal, what keeps customers, and what keeps them away. Keep a notebook of your observations for your own reference and always be prepared to learn from others’ experiences.
10. Awesome Assignments
They are indeed out there! If you build a reputation as an expert, reliable, and trustworthy mystery shopper, you could find yourself doing a shop…in a luxury hotel, in a gourmet restaurant, at a weekend spa retreat, an amusement park, or other fantastic location. After all, those businesses need quality checks, too, and mystery shopping allows their managers to see what others see. These plum assignments tend to be few and far between, but they are achievable, and you’ll have fun getting there.
Want to earn some extra money in a job that combines fun with a purpose? Mystery shopping makes customer service exciting!